Determining your target market is critical to your online strategy. This is one of the few strategic questions to answer before you look at vendors.
This post if Part 1 of 3: Online Target Markets
B2B = Business to business
Business to business in its most generic form describes transactions between businesses. In the print industry, you provide printing products and services so other businesses can promote themselves, inform their communities about their services, or provide compliance documentation to their customers.
This seems like one of those definitions that is so obvious and hardly needs to be defined. It’s the business most printers are in. The alternative to business to business is business to consumer (B2C) – providing products and services to the end customer for their personal use. In the print industry, a photobook or a photo calendar would be a good example.
Who cares? You need to.
Going online requires that you consciously make a decision between B2B and B2C. In the offline world you simply answer the phone and a human brain decides if the product or service being described can be done. One customer could call and say I need 5,000 postcards for an upcoming event and the next customer might say, I have created a personal book of photos for my grandmother and I want you to print just one. You may accept both those jobs and therefore you’re operating in both B2B and B2C.
The difference between the online world (piloted by software) and the offline world (piloted by humans) is that servicing B2B and B2C requires different features and functionality. So you have to answer this strategic question as part of your overall online strategy.
Web to print software that supports the B2B target market must include the following features:
- Private Portals
The ability to “wall-off” customers in order to service them according to their unique needs
- Configurability of the solution (for example)
Products and services
Not every customer is going to require unique configuration and just because a customer requires a special payment method (e.g. requires a valid PO for every purchase) doesn’t mean you have to create a whole new portal. Although creating a new portal for customers should be EASY. This is one of the key criteria I would look at when shopping for a B2B web to print software solution. How much time does it take to create a new customer portal? The basics (swapping a logo, changing colors, etc…) should be easy enough for sales resources to do it themselves!