Order fulfilment is a critical part of both B2B and B2C environments; both markets play important roles in the global economy. Each model has a slightly different order fulfilment method. Their approaches to logistics, operations and end-customers vary, as well as the regulations they are subject to in the business world.
B2B order fulfilment
In the B2B world, businesses are shipping to other businesses. Their orders are often large and bulk supply is the primary order. Businesses look to stock up on products or materials in advance so they can operate their businesses for weeks or months on end. This is often referred to as wholesale. Businesses will buy bulk orders to then resell on to consumers.
It is common to supply manufacturing inventory in B2B order fulfilment. Manufacturing inventory is dependent on timelines. This means that order fulfilment must focus on speed and efficiency to get the products delivered on time. If there are long hold-ups with the manufacturing inventory, it could significantly delay assembly line production. In the B2B environment, speed takes priority and customer service often sits on the back-burner. It is a much different relationship than with B2C where you are in contact with individual customers and individual products every day.
B2B order fulfilment is also subject to a lot of regulations. In this global economy, wholesale products are coming from countries near and far. They are being sent by ships, planes and across country borders. Trade barriers, such as tariffs and shipping levies, taxes, and different government regulations can slow down large shipments. In some countries, corrupt governments and language barriers provide further challenges.
B2B must adhere to the Electronic Data Interchange. In addition, they need their labels, barcodes and invoices to suit regulations as well. It is a complicated game to follow, and any problems with these shipping details can hold up large B2B sales.
B2C order fulfilment
In the B2C environment, orders go directly to the customer instead of to a business. This means that this order fulfilment process is much simpler than the large-scale bulk orders of B2B. Rules and regulations are decreased for individual customers. There is much more emphasis on customer service and satisfaction. They still concentrate on speed like B2B, but focus on enhancing the customer experience and delivery process for individuals more.
B2C order fulfilment looks to make the customer satisfied through providing specialty shipping options. These can include free shipping or expedited same-day shipping. B2C companies have to build good impressions with customers over a shorter period of time. In the B2B space, there are long-term relationships to work on, where B2C interactions may happen only once or twice.
However, shipping can be very complex with B2C because each order is unique. B2B orders get placed on pallets and it’s often the same product in bulk. B2C packages get crafted individually and this can prove difficult during busy times of the year.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.