What is a B2C Business?

B2C businesses, or business-to-consumer businesses, work directly with consumers, selling products and services to customers rather than to other businesses (which is known as a B2B business). Technically, a B2C business is any business providing goods directly to customers. However, most often the term applies to online businesses dealing directly with consumers.

The popularity of online B2C businesses has increased dramatically over the last two decades. In fact, B2C stores online have become so popular that they’re making a dent in the revenue of traditional brick-and-mortar stores, causing many of these physical locations to have to rethink their business plans, including how they operate and where they sell their products. For example, many savvy brick-and-mortar stores are taking a closer look at the online B2C model, finding ways to provide their goods online while still making use of their physical location.

Within the B2C model, there are several different ways to do business. Below are the five most common methods for delivering B2C services specifically with an online component.

  1. Direct: Selling directly to consumers online is the most frequently used method of B2C businesses. Direct B2C businesses range dramatically, both in what they sell and size. Sometimes direct B2C businesses are also the manufacturers of goods, but there are plenty of ones who get their goods from other manufacturers to sell. Direct B2C businesses can also include brands that do not sell physical products, but rather services or digital goods. B2C businesses online can also have a physical presence, once again ranging from huge reaches, like Target and H&M, to smaller local stores.
  2. Intermediary: Intermediary B2C businesses use their online presence to help consumers find the goods they are looking for. These goods are fulfilled by other brands and businesses, but these intermediaries still fall under the B2C model. A great example of a well-known B2C intermediary business is Etsy, which created a platform to allow others to sell directly to their customers.
  3. Advertiser: Advertising-based B2C businesses use their ability to generate online traffic through advertising. A B2C advertiser will typically create a website that provides useful and free information or content which then sells the potential customer on a specific product.
  4. Community: Online communities have exploded over the last decade, and they’re taking advantage of their reach by creating another form of a B2C business model. Leveraging their unique online community, these businesses allow others to advertise their goods to potential customers. Social media platforms, like Instagram and Facebook, are good examples of community-based B2C models.
  5. Fee: B2C businesses will also use subscription fees to generate revenue. Rather than customers paying for one product once, these fee-based businesses create subscriptions that typically grant access to content. Fee-based B2C businesses can range from huge companies, like Netflix, to smaller one-person brands that offer access to libraries of content, like workout classes, for a monthly fee.

To be successful, B2C brands need to understand exactly who their target customers are and where to find them online. The more targeted their advertising is, the more sales they’ll earn.

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