What Is B2B eCommerce? Definition, Types, and Examples of Use

Updated   |  10 min read
Key Takeaways
  • B2B refers to businesses buying and selling from other businesses. B2B eCommerce takes place online.
  • There are several different types of B2B eCommerce. They all need a seamless and efficient experience for customers. That's where a B2B eCommerce platform, along with B2B eCommerce development experts, come in.
  • Online B2B has several effective marketing strategies that can help drive traffic and boost conversions and sales.
  • B2B eCommerce has a rapidly expanding future ahead. To secure your place above competitors, it's best to work with eCommerce development experts who can help you set up a superb B2B platform, integrate your business systems, offer a seamless user experience, and scale your business.

In recent years, the world of business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce has experienced significant growth, and this trend is expected to continue as more businesses adopt digital technologies to streamline their operations.

B2B eCommerce refers to the online shopping experience that take place between businesses, allowing them to buy and sell goods and services electronically. This digital transformation has revolutionized the way companies conduct business, making it faster, more efficient, and cost-effective.

In this article, we will explore the definition of B2B eCommerce, its benefits, the different types of B2B eCommerce models that companies can choose from to suit their unique needs and requirements, and many more. Let's go for a deep dive into the B2B eCommerce world.

what is b2b ecommerce for business buyers

What Is B2B eCommerce?

B2B eCommerce, or business-to-business eCommerce, is a term used to describe the buying and selling of goods and services between businesses through online channels. It involves using electronic means instead of sales reps to conduct transactions, such as online marketplaces, websites, and other digital channels.

It's a rapidly growing industry that's transforming the way businesses interact and do business with one another. B2B eCommerce enables businesses to streamline their procurement and sales processes, reduce overhead costs, and improve efficiency by automating tasks that were previously done manually (for example, with the help of sales representatives). It also provides businesses with access to a wider range of potential customers and suppliers, regardless of their location.

B2B eCommerce has become increasingly popular in recent years, and its growth is expected to continue as more businesses adopt digital technologies to improve their operations. Experts predict that by 2027, B2B digital commerce will be worth $20.9 trillion - this staggering number alone indicates the importance of this business sector.

B2B eCommerce Types

There are several different types of B2B eCommerce models that businesses can choose from, depending on their needs and goals. Let's take a closer look at some of the most popular types:

Direct-to-Business (D2B)

This model involves businesses selling their products or services directly to other businesses through their own online storefront. D2B e-commerce allows companies to maintain full control over their branding and customer experience, but it requires a significant investment in technology and infrastructure.


B2B marketplaces like Alibaba or Amazon Business provide a platform for businesses to buy and sell products and services with one another. Marketplace B2B offers a wide range of products and services from different sellers, making it easy for businesses to compare prices and find what they're looking for.


This type of B2B eCommerce involves businesses using online platforms to streamline their procurement processes. B2B procurement software allows businesses to automate tasks like purchase orders, supplier management, and invoice processing, reducing the need for manual labor and improving efficiency.


Similar to B2B procurement, procurement involves the use of online platforms to manage procurement processes. However, B2B e-procurement systems are often more sophisticated and can be integrated with other business systems, like inventory management and accounting.


B2B2C involves businesses partnering with other businesses to sell products or services directly to consumers. For example, a clothing manufacturer might partner with a retailer to sell their products to consumers through the retailer's online store.

Wholesale Businesses

Wholesale businesses are essentially intermediaries between manufacturers and retailers. They buy products in bulk from manufacturers and then sell them to retailers at a markup. This type of B2B business is ideal for those who have a knack for finding great deals and are skilled at negotiating prices. Wholesale businesses often require a large amount of capital to get started, as they need to purchase inventory upfront.

Manufacturer Businesses

Manufacturer businesses, as the name suggests, are involved in the production of goods. They create and sell products to other businesses, who then sell them to consumers. This type of B2B business can be incredibly rewarding, as it allows you to create something from scratch and bring it to market. However, it can also be complex and requires a lot of resources, including a production facility, machinery, and skilled labor.

Distributor Businesses

Distributor businesses act as intermediaries between manufacturers and retailers, similar to wholesale businesses. However, they differ in that they don't own the products they sell. Instead, they simply act as a middleman, buying products from manufacturers and selling them to retailers at a markup. Distributor businesses are ideal for those who don't want to deal with the hassles of manufacturing, but still want to be involved in the supply chain.

These are just a few of the most common types of B2B e-commerce models, but there are many other variations and combinations out there. No matter which model a business chooses, the key to success in B2B e-commerce is providing a seamless and efficient buying experience for customers.

Stages of a B2B eCommerce Business

B2B businesses, just like any other business, go through a number of different stages throughout their lifecycle. While every business is unique, there are four general stages that most B2B companies go through: startup, growth, expansion, and maturity.

  1. Startup – This is the initial stage of a B2B business, where the focus is on establishing the company and building its foundation. During this stage, the company is typically small and may only have a handful of employees. The main goal of this stage is to create a product or service that meets the needs of the target market and secure funding to sustain the business.
  2. Growth – Once the business has established itself and the product or service is generating revenue, it enters the growth stage. This is where the company starts to scale up, hiring more employees, expanding its offerings, and reaching new markets. The focus is on building a strong customer base and establishing the business as a leader in the industry.
  3. Expansion – The expansion stage is all about taking the business to the next level. At this stage, the company is typically well-established and has a strong presence in its market. The focus is on expanding the business into new markets and offering new products or services. This may involve mergers and acquisitions, strategic partnerships, or international expansion.
  4. Maturity – The final stage of a B2B business is maturity. This is where the company has achieved a stable and profitable position in its market. The focus is on maintaining that position and continuing to grow the business in a sustainable way. This may involve optimizing operations, investing in research and development, and staying ahead of industry trends.

Of course, the path to success is never linear, and B2B businesses may experience setbacks or face unexpected challenges along the way. However, by understanding these four stages and the goals associated with each one, businesses can develop a roadmap for growth and navigate their way to success.

b2b ecommerce stages with an online sales portal

B2B eCommerce Examples

B2B eCommerce is growing at an unprecedented rate, and these companies are leading the way in the industry. Let's dive into some of the most notable examples:

Amazon Business

Amazon Business is a leading example of B2B eCommerce, offering a wide range of products for businesses of all sizes. The platform allows businesses to purchase products at discounted prices and offers additional benefits such as free shipping, exclusive pricing, and business-only products.


McKesson is a leading healthcare services and information technology company that offers a broad range of medical supplies and equipment to healthcare providers. Its ecommerce platform, McKesson Medical-Surgical, allows customer groups to place orders online and offers a comprehensive range of products, from bandages to surgical equipment.


Alibaba is one of the world's largest B2B eCommerce marketplaces, connecting business buyers and sellers across the globe. The platform offers a wide range of products and services, from electronics to textiles, and provides a streamlined buying process that allows businesses to source products quickly and efficiently.


Microsoft's eCommerce platform provides businesses with access to a range of software and hardware products. The platform offers a personalized buying experience, with customized pricing and product recommendations based on the customer's needs and preferences.

Google Cloud

Here you have an example of B2B eCommerce that provides businesses with access to cloud-based computing services. Google Cloud offers a range of services, from data analytics to machine learning, and allows businesses to scale their operations as needed.

Facebook for Business

Facebook for Business is a B2B eCommerce platform that allows businesses to run targeted advertising campaigns on the social media platform. It provides businesses with a range of tools to create and manage campaigns, track their performance, and target specific audiences.


Oracle is a leading provider of enterprise software and cloud services, offering businesses a comprehensive range of products and solutions. The company's eCommerce platform allows businesses to purchase software licenses and services online and provides a streamlined purchasing process that saves time and money.


Salesforce is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform that provides businesses with a range of tools to manage their customer interactions. The company's eCommerce platform allows businesses to purchase software licenses and services online and provides a personalized buying experience that meets their specific needs.

General Electric

General Electric (GE) is a multinational conglomerate that operates in various industries, including aviation, healthcare, and energy. GE has a comprehensive eCommerce platform that offers products and services to businesses in these industries. Their site is user-friendly, making it easy for businesses to find the products they need and order them quickly.


Chocomize is a B2B eCommerce site that allows businesses to customize chocolate bars with their branding and messaging. They offer a wide range of customization options and packaging solutions, making it easy for businesses to create unique and personalized gifts for their clients and employees.


ScaleTrains is a company that specializes in manufacturing model trains and accessories for the hobbyist market. They also offer their products through their B2B eCommerce site, where they provide a seamless shopping experience for retailers and distributors.


Printful is another great example of a B2B eCommerce site that is doing it right. They offer custom printing and fulfillment services for businesses looking to create branded merchandise. Their site is easy to navigate and offers a wide range of products and customization options, making it a great choice for businesses of all sizes.

eJuices is a B2B eCommerce website that sells e-liquids and vaping products to retailers and distributors. They have a wide selection of products from various brands and make it easy for businesses to find what they need and place orders quickly and efficiently.

Their robust search features, a generous rewards program, and focus on personalized customer experience, among other factors, are what makes eJuices one of the best wholesale eCommerce platforms on the market.

These examples of B2B eCommerce demonstrate the diversity and innovation that exist within the industry. From marketplaces like Alibaba to software providers like Microsoft and Salesforce, these companies are transforming the way businesses buy and sell products and services online. As B2B eCommerce continues to grow, we can expect to see even more exciting developments in the years to come!

B2B eCommerce Myths

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what it takes to run a successful B2B business. Some people believe that B2B businesses are boring, lack innovation, and don't require as much marketing as B2C businesses, or that they're not even equipped to sell online. Let us tell you that these myths are just that—myths!

Myth #1: B2B businesses are boring and offer little to no value

One of the most common myths about B2B businesses is that they're boring. People often assume that B2B businesses only sell products or services to the next business (wholesale eCommerce), and that these products or services are inherently dull.

But the truth is that B2B businesses can be just as exciting and innovative as B2C businesses. In fact, many B2B companies are at the forefront of technological advancements and are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible. How's that for not offering any value?

Myth #2: B2B businesses don't require as much marketing

Another common myth about B2B businesses is that they don't require as much marketing as B2C businesses. This is simply not true.

While it's true that B2B businesses often have smaller, more targeted audiences, they still need to invest in marketing to generate leads and grow their customer base. In fact, B2B marketing can be just as creative and impactful as B2C marketing and can involve a wide range of strategies, from content marketing and social media to email marketing and events.

Myth #3: B2B businesses don't innovate

There's also a myth that B2B businesses are less innovative than B2C businesses. This couldn't be further from the truth. Many B2B businesses are responsible for some of the most groundbreaking innovations in their respective industries, from new medical technologies to sustainable energy solutions. B2B businesses often have to be even more innovative than B2C businesses, since they're catering to the needs of different businesses, which often have high standards and specific requirements.

Myth #4: B2B companies don't do eCommerce

If you thought that automated sales processes had no place in a B2B environment, you thought wrong! According to recent research, a significant 65 percent of B2B companies across different industries have now incorporated e-commerce capabilities, which means they are able to fully execute online sales transactions. This percentage has increased from 53 percent in early 2021, and it has been driven by the surge in digital adoption over the past two years.

Interestingly, B2B sellers are now more inclined to offer e-commerce channels than in-person selling, which is a first. This trend has continued even as face-to-face interactions have resumed with the widespread vaccine rollouts.

B2B ecommerce with enterprise resource planning (ERP)

10 Effective B2B eCommerce Marketing Tactics

Remember myth#2? We managed to establish that marketing is crucial in terms of B2B e-commerce if you want to grow your business and reach your target audience. So, whether you're just starting out or looking to expand your existing B2B eCommerce efforts, these tactics can help you drive more traffic, increase conversions, and boost sales.

1. Content Marketing

Creating high-quality content is a great way to attract and engage your target audience. By publishing blog posts, videos, and other types of content, you can position yourself as an authority in your industry and provide valuable information to potential customers. Content marketing can also help improve your SEO and drive more online purchases.

2. Email Marketing

Email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience and promote your products or services. By building an email list and sending out regular newsletters or promotional emails, you can keep your audience engaged and informed about your latest offerings.

3. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves partnering with industry experts or thought leaders to promote your products or services. By collaborating with influencers in your niche, you can reach a wider audience and build trust with potential customers.

4. Retargeting

Retargeting involves showing targeted ads to people who have previously visited your eCommerce site but haven't yet made a purchase. By reminding these users about your products or services, you can encourage them to come back and complete the purchase.

5. Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are a powerful tool for building trust and credibility with potential customers. By displaying reviews on your B2B eCommerce website, you can provide social proof that your products or services are high quality and reliable.

6. Social Sharing Buttons

Social media is a powerful tool for reaching new audiences and increasing brand awareness. By adding social sharing buttons to your B2B eCommerce store, you can encourage your customers to share your content with their networks, which can help increase your reach and drive more traffic to your site.

7. Personalized Content

Personalization is key to building strong relationships with your customers. By creating personalized content that speaks to your customers' interests and needs, you can make them feel valued and increase their engagement with your brand.

8. Use SEO to Increase Your B2B eCommerce Store's Reach

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial tactic for increasing your business to business eCommerce store's reach and visibility. By optimizing your site's structure, content, and metadata, you can improve your ranking in search engine results pages and attract more organic traffic.

Also, it is worth noting that in this day and age, when businesses, institutions, and human lives are becoming more and more digitalized, SEO is an absolute must for any online business venture.

9. Solid Keyword Strategy

A solid keyword strategy is essential for optimizing your B2B eCommerce store's visibility in search engines. By conducting keyword research and incorporating relevant keywords into your content, you can increase your site's ranking and attract more organic traffic. There's no SEO without a keyword strategy, so make sure you hire experts to do it for you, if you're not familiar with SEO yourself.

10. Content for Every Stage of Your Funnel

Creating content that caters to every stage of your funnel is a great way to engage your customers and guide them towards a purchase. By providing informational content for customers who are in the awareness stage, educational content for those who are in the consideration stage, and persuasive content for those who are in the decision stage, you can create a cohesive customer journey that leads to conversions.

B2B eCommerce marketing requires a multi-faceted approach that leverages a variety of tactics to reach and engage your target audience. By implementing these effective marketing tactics, you can drive more traffic, increase conversions, and grow your business.

Sales reps temper customer expectations

Biggest Advantages of Using a B2B eCommerce Platform

As businesses continue to evolve and embrace digital transformation, more and more B2B companies are adopting eCommerce platforms to streamline their operations and remain competitive. A B2B eCommerce model can provide businesses with numerous advantages that can help them improve their performance and ultimately achieve their goals.

So, what are the top advantages of using a B2B eCommerce platform? Let's take a closer look.

Better Management of Suppliers and Customers

One of the primary benefits of using a B2B eCommerce platform is that it allows businesses to manage their suppliers and customers more efficiently. The platform can streamline processes such as ordering, invoicing, and payment, making it easier for businesses to manage their transactions and relationships with their suppliers and customers. This can help businesses save time and reduce the risk of errors, allowing them to focus on other important aspects of their operations.

Improved Data Analytics

Another advantage of using a B2B platform is that it can provide businesses with better analytics capabilities that can improve marketing strategies and the overall customer experience. The platform can collect data on customer behavior, transaction history, and other relevant metrics, allowing businesses to gain insights into their operations and make informed decisions. With the right analytics tools, businesses can identify trends, optimize their operations, and improve their overall performance.

Potential Expansion

Using a B2B commerce platform can also open up new opportunities for businesses to expand their operations. With the right platform, businesses can reach new customers all over the world, expand their customer base beyond their local market, and increase their sales. This can help businesses increase their revenue and achieve their long-term goals, as well as open up new opportunities for growth and innovation with new customers.

Customer-Centric Experience

A B2B eCommerce platform can provide businesses with a customer-centric experience that meets the expectations of modern buyers who are used to online sales. With features such as personalized content, product recommendations, and easy-to-use interfaces, businesses can create a seamless shopping experience that drives customer loyalty and satisfaction. This can help businesses build strong relationships with their customers and increase their sales over time.

Increased Efficiency and Productivity

By using a B2B platform, you can automate many of your business processes, such as order processing and inventory management. This leads to increased efficiency and productivity, allowing you to focus on growing your business instead of getting bogged down in administrative tasks.

Possibility of Selling More to Existing Customers

The B2B eCommerce model can help businesses sell more to their current customers. By offering relevant product recommendations, personalized content, and other features that enhance the customer experience, businesses can increase their sales and customer loyalty. This can help businesses generate more revenue from their current customer base and improve their overall performance.

The B2B eCommerce system can provide businesses with numerous advantages that can help them improve their performance and achieve their goals. From better management of suppliers and customers to improved data analytics, potential expansion, and exceptional customer service, a B2B platform can be a game-changer for businesses of all sizes and industries.

Sales reps work with personalized sales portals to target customers

The Future of B2B eCommerce

According to the State of Commerce report, B2B respondents consider eCommerce to be the most important sales channel to invest in. Furthermore, B2B commerce, which is an eCommerce platform designed specifically for businesses to purchase goods and services online, has experienced significant growth in the last year, with a 200% increase in usage between March 2019 and March 2020.

We have also observed steady and continuous growth of people who sell and shop online. With advancements in technology, businesses can now conduct transactions online with greater ease and efficiency. The growth of eCommerce has had a profound impact on the landscape of B2B transactions and distribution, and we can only expect further innovations and advancements in the future.

One of the most significant trends shaping B2B eCommerce is the increasing use of mobile devices for B2B mobile eCommerce. More and more business owners are using their smartphones and tablets to conduct transactions while on the go. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years, which means that businesses that don't optimize their websites for mobile use risk falling behind.

Another trend that's shaping the future of commerce is the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence in eCommerce. These technologies are being used to create personalized shopping experiences for customers and streamline the sales process. They can also help analyze customer data, make a prognosis of customer expectations, and facilitate information flow across different sales channels. Businesses that leverage AI and machine learning will be better positioned to compete in the B2B eCommerce landscape.

The rise of omnichannel commerce is another trend that's shaping the future of B2B eCommerce. This approach involves creating a seamless experience for customers across multiple channels, such as online marketplaces, social media, and brick-and-mortar stores. By embracing omnichannel commerce, businesses can expand their customer reach, attract more customers and grow sales.

Overall, digital eCommerce model is a force on its own. In the coming years, we can expect it to only grow in popularity, and continue using increasingly innovative technologies to do so.

B2B vs B2C.

Final Thoughts

B2B e-commerce is a rapidly growing industry that's transforming the way businesses interact and do business with one another. With so many different types of models to choose from, businesses have the flexibility to find the right fit for their unique needs and goals. Whether it's direct-to-business, marketplaces, procurement, e-procurement, or B2B2C, the key is to prioritize customer experience and efficiency.

As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more advancements in B2B eCommerce that will further enhance the way businesses operate. It is clear that B2B eCommerce has become an integral part of modern business, and companies that adapt to these changes will be better positioned to succeed in the future.


Work with B2B Development Experts

Clarity Ventures can help you start and grow your B2B eCommerce website. We offer a free discovery session with our subject matter experts so you can find out which solution and features would suit your needs best. There's no obligation and no risk at all—so why not click the button below to see what you can gain?

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B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) are two different models of conducting business. B2B refers to transactions between businesses, where one business sells products or services to another business. In contrast, B2C refers to transactions between a business and individual consumers.

In a B2B transaction, the products or services are often used to support the operations of the buying business. In contrast, in a B2C transaction, the products or services are intended for personal use by the end consumer.

B2B transactions generally involve larger order sizes and longer sales cycles, while B2C transactions typically involve smaller order sizes and shorter sales cycles. Additionally, B2B marketing often focuses on building long-term relationships with customers, while B2C marketing often emphasizes impulse buying and emotional appeals.

Additionally, retail consumers and business buyers have different purchasing needs. For example, in business-to-consumer transactions, buyers can make more impulsive decisions and opt for one-off purchases. On the other hand, business clients often make recurring purchases, and the whole buying process is more rational and planned out.


Business-to-business (B2B) transactions refer to the exchange of goods or services between two businesses rather than between a business and a consumer, and are common in a typical supply chain. Some examples of B2B transactions include:

  1. A manufacturer selling raw materials to a production company.
  2. A software company licensing its product to another business for internal use.
  3. A marketing agency providing services to a corporate client.
  4. A logistics company transporting goods for a retailer.
  5. An accounting firm providing auditing services to a corporation.

These types of transactions are essential to the functioning of businesses across various industries and sectors.


B2B buyers are individuals or groups of people who purchase products or services on behalf of their businesses or organizations. These business buyers are typically responsible for making purchasing decisions that will benefit their company, such as increasing efficiency, reducing costs, or improving productivity.

Customers can be found in various roles within a company, including procurement, purchasing, operations, and management. Business-to-business relationships often have specific requirements and expectations when it comes to the products or services they are purchasing, and may require a more personalized approach compared to B2C (business-to-consumer) transactions. Effective communication, trust-building, and relationship-building are important factors in successful B2B sales.


B2B marketing messaging is designed to appeal to business customers or businesses and organizations rather than individual consumers. Here are some key features of effective B2B marketing messaging:

  1. Focus on value proposition: B2B messaging should clearly communicate the value proposition of the product or service being offered. Businesses want to know how the product or service will benefit them and help them achieve their goals.
  2. Emphasis on problem-solving: B2B messaging should focus on how the product or service can solve the problems that businesses might be facing. It should address the pain points and challenges that businesses are experiencing and how the product or service can help alleviate them.
  3. Technical language: The B2B business model often involves using technical language and industry-specific terminology. This is because businesses are typically more knowledgeable and educated about the products and services they are purchasing.
  4. Data-driven: B2B messaging should be backed by data and analytics. It should provide evidence and statistics that demonstrate the benefits and effectiveness of the product or service.
  5. Personalization: B2B messaging should be personalized and targeted to specific businesses, business customer groups, and industries. It should be customized to suit the unique needs and requirements of each business.

Maintaining strong business-to-business (B2B) relationships is essential for the success of any company. Here are some tips on how to maintain B2B relationships:

  1. Communication: Regular communication is essential to maintaining strong B2B relationships. Keep in touch with your partners and suppliers through regular phone calls, emails, video conferences, and meetings.
  2. Be reliable: Deliver on your promises and be consistent in your business dealings. This helps build trust and credibility with your partners.
  3. Personalize your interactions: Personalize your communication and interactions with your partners. Get to know their business and their needs, and tailor your approach to meet their specific requirements.
  4. Provide value: Offer your partners value-added services such as discounts, special promotions, or exclusive access to new products or services.
  5. Seek feedback: Ask your partners for feedback on your products, services, and business practices. Use their feedback to improve your offerings and strengthen your relationship.

By implementing these practices, you can build and maintain strong B2B relationships that are beneficial for both parties.


B2B eCommerce, or Business-to-Business Electronic Commerce, refers to online transactions between businesses, where products or services are bought and sold through digital platforms.

Unlike the B2C (Business-to-Consumer) eCommerce business model, B2B transactions involve businesses trading with each other rather than with individual consumers. It encompasses a range of activities, including online procurement, wholesale trade, and electronic collaboration between business partners. B2B eCommerce platforms streamline complex processes, facilitating efficient transactions, order processing, and supply chain management.

A B2B eCommerce online store often integrates features like bulk ordering, personalized pricing, and robust inventory management to cater to the unique needs of businesses. B2B eCommerce has become increasingly essential in the modern business landscape, fostering global connectivity, reducing costs, and enhancing overall efficiency in the supply chain.

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Autumn Spriggle is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures who stays up to date on the latest trends in eCommerce, software development, and related topics to provide readers with the latest and greatest. She strives to help people like you realize the full potential for their business.