Is buyer the only customer for B2C platforms?

You have used services of B2C platform(Flipkat, snap deal, Ola, Uber) . You have experienced fun with non-delivery of goods or non- arrival of driver at pick-up time. As a buyer, I used to think that I am only customer of eCommerce marketplace and cribbed about the experience.

You may have got it wrong. You are not the only customer.  Buyer, seller and delivery boys are customers You are just one more stakeholder on B2C platform, similar to seller and delivery boy.For sure, buyer is consumer.

This is how seller and B2C platform work today. Drivers are seller equivalent.

While a  buyer has no power to negotiate with B2C platform or seller and had to accept discounts provided, sellers have choice to negotiate margins on products sold based on their brand value.  Branded sellers have made all eCommerce sites as their channel and have put constraints on the channel to take care of their interest. Can you start to visualize that seller is also the primary customer?  Currently, discounts and quantity of goods present for discount sale is in discretion of seller and B2C platform

When an item is sold by market place to buyer, the marketplace collects money from buyer on behalf of seller. B2C platform gets a margin or percentage of the money as part of each transaction. That accounts for earning. More margin, more earnings to profit and pay overheads. When B2C platform gets money from seller, Should B2C platform consider seller as the primary customer?

When there is COD order and buyer is not available at home, where does the money for delivery logistics come from? If item is lost in transit, who undertakes loss? Until the product reaches buyer, B2C platform undertakes charges & losses ahead of the seller.

This is how delivery boy and B2C platform work today. Most of delivery logistics  is outsourced or done by external partners of  B2C platform. B2C platform can exercise limited control over the delivery logistics. This quality control reduces in areas where supply of delivery boys is low and demand is high.  Any attempts to demand higher quality of delivery lead to increase in cost of delivery eroding margin of platform.

Without granular control, the buyer experience suffers. In additon as buyer, you make payments to B2C platform honoring your commitment and agreed to wait for delivery as proposed by eCommerce site. You believed in other stakeholder commitments and  you need to prepared to face delivery challenges.

This is how buyers and B2C platform work today. You already got discount and may you sacrificed your rights in lieu of the discounts.As buyer

  • You have no power to demand commitment from other party beyond rating of the seller. Only when you are sure that other party has failed in their commitment, you can reach phone number available to resolve issues.
  • On order page, you see option to cancel order and failed to see support number to call for issues. May be they prefer buyers to cancel order and order again instead of offering customer support.
  • You have to perform a good amount of work in terms of coordination delivery boy does not deliver and asks for address effectively coordinate delivery.
  • You need to perform logistics when you received a less quality product and product is delivered with your security.

While eCommerce marketplace have intent to serve stakeholders better, their actions cannot be only towards one stakeholder, buyer.

As buyer, I ask myself a fundamental question: Is there real convenience after paying money upfront and spending significant time with delivery logistics ? My answer is mostly No. I continue to use eCommerce site in scenarios where i need to purchase things that are not urgent and not important and on getting  value for money.