Embracing new opportunities: A guide to pivoting to B2C

The disruption and changing consumer demands of 2020 has forced many businesses to not only alter the types of products they sell but also who they sell to. For many traditional B2B companies, this has meant taking a leap into the uncharted territories of B2C selling - and the terrain is distinctly different. Especially when it comes to your freight.

In this blog we highlight the major differences these two business models have when it comes to your freight and logistics capabilities before providing options to help make the transition easier, cheaper and faster.

Understanding your new audience

B2B customers are known to be tolerant around delivery processes. If an item arrives on schedule, they generally don’t need to know what happens in the middle. For B2C, however, silence is deafening. Consumers demand far more transparency over their purchases - they expect to see when their order has been fulfilled, when it's out for delivery, and they want notifications about certain events along the way. Whether via email or text, having the capacity to deliver regular updates on the progress of an order goes a long way to keeping customers coming back for more.

Getting a handle on shipping pricing for B2C customers is another crucial piece of the puzzle. It goes without saying that consumers are price sensitive - they need to know the cost of shipping before they complete a purchase and will happily shop around if they consider it unreasonable. This raises a number of questions for consideration - do you charge your customers or build shipping costs into the item price? Does the shipping vary by location, and what are the logics of this? And once decided, how do I calculate shipping costs for the customer?

If something goes a little awry in the delivery process, B2C customers tend to be less forgiving of delays and errors. Worse still are damages - business customers will likely invest in insurance, B2C customers rarely do. Which brings us to returns. There are two key considerations here - simplifying the process for your customers, as well as for your warehousing team. For the former, providing labels and free returns are a surefire way to earn praise and repeat customers. Your internal processes must be able to facilitate this service, yet we’ve seen firsthand that managing customer returns continues to challenge even the biggest B2C sellers. Alarmingly, some find it more cost-effective – though far less sustainable – to turf out returns rather than bring the items back into the warehouse to resell.

Delivering to the home, not warehouse

B2B deliveries often take place in warehouses fully equipped with forklifts to handle whatever comes in their doors. Delivering to residential addresses introduces new considerations. Of course, standard parcel deliveries are easy, but when it comes to bulky items - like whitegoods or office furniture - you’ll need to have the right truck, perhaps fitted with a tail lift. The type of residence comes into play too. For example, will the courier need to navigate stairs or an elevator? And how is price affected by these extra steps?

In addition, authority to leave became more commonplace during the lockdowns of 2020. Ensuring you can capture special delivery instructions or gain authority to leave at the time of purchase can improve delivery timeframes and customer satisfaction.

A broader choice of carriers

While your existing carriers may have served your B2B requirements well, pivoting to a B2C offering will likely mean relying on more carriers in order to reach your new clientele. Like any business, carriers have limits on their services - some will only handle B2B freight and others may focus solely on B2C deliveries. It’s important to be aware of this, because if your B2B portfolio is transitioning to a blended B2B/B2C model, you may encounter carriers suddenly refusing jobs or adding new costs.

And, if you’re worried because you’re already struggling to manage the ones you’ve already got, the good news is that you can have the control and choice that additional carriers provide without having to manage more suppliers yourself. We’ll explain this in more detail shortly.

Control freight costs and meet customer expectations

So, as a new-to-B2C business, how can you successfully tackle everything we’ve covered? You have a couple of options:

1. Use a freight broker

    This option will improve your freight and logistics capability in days, not months. A good freight broker will analyse your needs and identify potential cost savings, they will negotiate with multiple carriers to get you the best possible deal for your freight types, they’ll implement your agreed solution and continue to maintain and optimise your end-to-end freight processes moving forward.

    For businesses new to the world of B2C this is a surefire way to get things moving at the lowest possible cost with the highest possible level of efficiency.

    2. Use a Freight Management system like Cario

        If you’re a little further down the digital innovation path, the other option is to leverage technology to do the hard lifting for you. Freight software has come in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and can provide everything you need to help you automate freight decisions and take control of your order fulfillment. Take Cario for example - it’s designed to manage your multi carrier despatch and shipping and includes functionality including:

        • Carrier management – access and manage multiple carriers through the one platform
        • ERP/WMS integration – ties into your supply chain in real time
        • B2C and B2B ready – offers smart shipping solutions for any business model
        • Pricing – system driven freight decisions to optimise what’s important
        • Automated – removes manual operations out of warehouse
        • Real time insights – track all freight in the one system
        • Customer returns – capabilities are built into the platform

        To learn more or to take your first steps towards embracing B2C opportunities, get in touch today.