Disruption is a never-ending battle that every manufacturing company must fight today. From geopolitical conflict and natural disasters to digital transformation and inflation, several emerging issues are coming together to upend traditional workflows and processes.

To find new ways to pivot in this changing environment, many manufacturers are evaluating B2B vs. B2C models — and finding new potential in becoming a B2C company. The B2C approach connects manufacturers directly to consumers, with no wholesalers or distributors in between to move goods. For a manufacturer, shifting to a B2C model not only saves time and money by cutting out the middlemen, but also offers greater control over price, innovation, and brand image.

If you're comparing a B2B vs. B2C model for your manufacturing business, this shift could be a game-changer for you.

B2B vs. B2C Explained

A B2B (business-to-business) model describes a company that sells products and services to other businesses. Think aerospace manufacturers selling to airlines, technology manufacturers selling automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to industrial plants, or a customer relationship management (CRM) solution provider selling its software to an enterprise.

A B2C (business-to-consumer) model, however, describes businesses that sell goods and services directly to the consumer (an individual). Think a coffee shop selling its beverages to consumers or a clothing company selling its jeans to patrons.

Although these two business models differ in terms of who your manufacturing business sells to, they both operate with the customer or end-user in mind.

Why Are Manufacturers Switching from B2B to B2C?

The onslaught of e-commerce has made it easy for manufacturers to sell directly to customers in a B2C environment, which is becoming a more attractive option for many reasons.

First, this enables you to talk to your users: the people who use your products every day. You’ll learn more about their interests and preferences so you can respond faster to what they want—and what they don’t. This gives your customers a more personalized buying experience.

It also enables financial opportunities, such as increased profitability, by allowing you to maintain control over your brand and pricing. You can capture your existing wholesale margin along with the margins that resellers make.

Weighing B2B vs. B2C: Is It the Right Move for You?

There’s more involved with building out a B2C model than simply opening your channel to consumers. Before making the change, consider these factors. If they sound achievable, then a B2C model may be the right move for you.

  • Your company will need a way to store, maintain, and analyze customer data.
  • Your warehouse will need to adjust from managing, storing, and shipping crates or pallets of products to handling much smaller orders in higher volumes within tighter delivery windows.
  • Consumers will expect you to offer the same distribution and delivery models they’re accustomed to with other shopping experiences, including BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store), BOSS (buy online, ship to store), BOPAC (buy online, pick up at curbside), and BODFS (buy online, deliver from store).
  • Consumers will expect you to offer the same return options they’re accustomed to with other shopping experiences.
  • Customer service will become a critical factor for your business. Consumers will expect to connect with you via phone, email, chat, social media, text, and apps to ask questions, cancel or adjust orders, check delivery status, communicate about lost or damaged packages, etc.

Becoming a B2C Manufacturing Business

If your manufacturing business is considering the value of B2B vs. B2C, it’s critical to establish your long-term goals to determine whether a B2C model is the best way forward. Make a plan, be prepared, establish requirements before getting started, and don’t be afraid to redefine your strategy as you go.

As you transform your business, PNC can power your manufacturing progress. We’ll help you select options best suited for your manufacturing operations and long-term goals. Learn more about how we can help.