Prefer B2ALL, B2Client over B2C, B2B

A better way to segment your customer portfolio into Web-to-Print

Perhaps the two most fundamental concepts in marketing are customer segmentation and the concept of product differentiation. I'll talk about product differentiation a little later, but there is a lot of confusion in web-to-print when it comes to customer segmentation and how best to implement it. The idea is simple however: we need to bring customers together with common expectations, so that we can match service strategies to their unique (but shared) needs. 

The goal is to recognize the similarities between customer groups so that their needs can be met effectively. Customers in different sectors may have similar needs, but most of the time the differences will be greater than the similarities observed. Where similarities are observed, supply chain structures and strategies may be similar and savings can be achieved by sharing costs across target segments.

In the Industry 2.0 era, most companies and print shops wishing to mass-produce and mass-print were mostly in a classic one-size-fits-all approach; it was difficult at that time to talk about segmentation. The main concern was to standardize products and service offerings to simplify internal processes and thereby reduce costs. 

Digital and Internet in the era of Industry 3.0 enabled companies to move forward with solutions, such as web-to-print and print-on-demand, which better match their customers' preferences and not the reverse. Traditional B2C and B2B segmentation is being challenged by these new printing companies who are learning the basics of online sales and completely rethinking the graphic industry markets. The traditional definition of B2C masks business opportunities for printers, according to Tony Rafferty, founder of printing.com (2014), which is why he prefers to talk about B2All and B2Client instead. Because who buys printing online? Everyone, from small and large companies, self-employed people, freelancers, students, parents, or sports clubs. What about electrical contractors, plumbers, architects who order business cards? Are they positioning themselves less in B2C and more in B2microB? questions the founder of printing.com. 

Figure 1- Problem of B2B and B2C segmentation

Source: WEB2PRINT MD2 by Tony Rafferty (2014). 

B2B and B2C segmentation may seem like an obvious way to segment the market, but it overshadows the differences between the types of websites specific to each segment, observes Tony Rafferty (2014). It also masks the ways in how sites are promoted, and how customer relationships are managed. Noting that SMEs often behave as simple consumers when it comes to online shopping, online printing professionals in the graphic industries prefer the definitions of B2B and B2C to those of B2Client, B2All and B2Trade :

Figure 2 - New segmentation B2ALL, B2Client

Source: WEB2PRINT MD2® by Tony Rafferty (2014)

- B2Client reflects the management of traditional key accounts, with the use of e-procurement type web platforms. By connecting to an extranet on the web, a key account can choose a media type from a predefined catalogue, paper and finishing options, indicate a quantity and then pay online to trigger the production of its document;

- B2All encompasses both individuals, but also sub-segments of SMEs, micro-businesses, organizations and nano-business consumers with similar behaviors when it comes to online print purchasing;

- B2Trade is aimed at a population of graphic professionals (local printers, resellers, graphic designers, advertising agencies and other clients with professional skills in desktop publishing), the printer in this case mainly resells to its colleagues (Exaprint, Realisaprint or PrintOClock, for example in France).

The interest of this typology is to highlight the differences in resources, capabilities and skills required for the different forms of business or e-commerce applied within the graphic industries and undoubtedly in many other industries.