Understanding the Difference Between B2C & B2B Fulfillment

Whether you are fulfilling orders for a single end-customers or for a retail store, it may seem on the surface there won’t need to be much difference between the two. An order is an order, right? Wrong. B2B (business-to-business) B2C (business-to-consumer, also known as direct-to-consumer or DTC) each require very different operations and processes.

Every order is a reflection of your brand, any order inaccuracies will reflect poorly on your business. Working with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) that aligns with your brand will help you navigate and streamline order fulfillment process, warehousing and inventory management for B2C orders and B2B orders. High-growth ecommerce businesses need to choose a fulfillment partner who can support an omnichannel strategy, which means getting orders out perfectly, no matter where they are going.

B2B Fulfillment Defined

In B2B ecommerce fulfillment, products are shipped directly to a business or retailer (sometimes retail fulfillment is called B2R). Purchase orders are generally made for large quantities so that the receiving business will have enough inventory to sell from. When businesses place orders, it’s usually more efficient for them to do so in advance, and to order in bulk, so they don’t have to make purchases for more orders frequently.

B2B Ecommerce Order Considerations

Accuracy is extremely important with B2B order fulfillment services. Businesses may have compliance requirements, such as tax rules, product restrictions, SKU codes, parcel labels, barcodes, or specific invoicing structure.

Wholesale orders can be expected to cost more and have longer delivery lead times. Expect to get more familiar with carriers who can support the shipping methods you’ll need to meet your B2B business needs. Bulk orders may need to be moved by sea freight or air freight, and international trade barriers like taxes, tariffs, and subsidies.

Common Fulfillment Services for Shipping to Retailers

If you choose to have your B2B orders fulfilled by a 3PL they should focus on providing fast and reliable delivery. Your should expect your 3PL to provide fulfillment solutions that help optimize your operations, bonus points for cost-cutting and increased efficiency.

Your fulfillment provider will also play a crucial role in the ability to meet orders on time. Delays and mismanagement on the part of a 3PL can harm the reputation of the company they represent, as well as incur penalty fees and refund losses that they might have to provide. A reliable 3PL will help improve your business’ profitability and scalability.