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B2B Ecommerce: Everything you should know!

Aren’t we all living in a digital era where almost everything is digital now from education to business? With the growing expectations of people, the B2B eCommerce space is constantly evolving and growing fast.

Online product marketing and sales between two businesses is known as business-to-business (B2B ecommerce) or Electronic Commerce.

  • June 3, 2024
  • by Jasreet Kaur
blog
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As the Orders are handled digitally, which increases the efficacy and efficiency of purchasing for manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and other B2B Customers.
As per the study by Gartner, by 2025, 80% of B2B sales transactions between buyers and suppliers will occur via digital channels. So it is the right time to Know everything about B2B ecommerce today!

Don’t worry if this Ecommerce model is unfamiliar to you. This guide will walk you through the process of setting up a B2B ecommerce platform, how it operates, and some successful B2B ecommerce examples to help you with your own business.

Excited?

What is B2B Ecommerce?

B2B, or Business-to-Business Ecommerce, is an online transaction in which only two business parties are involved. In other words, when two parties, both businesses, are involved in the transaction, that is called B2B Ecommerce.

Let us define this for you in a precise manner! 

B2B Commerce Definition

B2B commerce refers to any type of transaction conducted between two companies online. Businesses depend on each other to operate smoothly, whether they are sourcing equipment and supplies or utilising services like manufacturing and distribution. 

These inter-business deals are crucial for the functioning of enterprises. With the increasing shift of commerce to digital platforms, B2B transactions have also transitioned online.

Examples of Business-to-Business (B2B) Commerce 

B2B transactions are a fundamental part of many industries, particularly manufacturing. For instance, Samsung is a key supplier for Apple, providing components for the iPhone. Apple also maintains B2B relationships with other major companies like Intel, Panasonic, and Micron Technology, a semiconductor producer. 

The automobile industry is another prime example of B2B commerce. Many vehicle components such as tires, batteries, electronics, hoses, and door locks are produced by different companies and then sold directly to automobile manufacturers for assembly. 

Service providers also play a significant role in B2B transactions. Companies that specialise in property management, housekeeping, and industrial cleanup typically offer their services exclusively to other businesses rather than individual consumers. These interactions highlight the diverse and essential nature of B2B commerce across various sectors. 

Do you know? 

The percentage of companies switching to Ecommerce is constantly going up. Also, new and latest ecommerce technologies are gradually reducing all kinds of barriers of entry to traditional and online businesses. That makes it easy for traditional businesses to switch to B2B Ecommerce and vice versa.

Types of B2B Ecommerce 

New ecommerce technologies are making it easier for historically B2C enterprises to expand into B2B markets (B2C2B) and, conversely, for historically B2B corporations to sell directly to consumers (B2B2C). 

There are various types of business-to-business ecommerce. We are going to discuss the five most common types. They are as follows: 

1. B2B2C 

B2B2C is an acronym for Business to Business to Consumer Ecommerce. This type of Ecommerce generally eliminates the role of middlemen and puts the businesses in direct contact with consumers. It usually takes place between Business to Business and Business to Consumers. 

It can be best known as the way manufacturers interact with traditional B2C and B2B models. In such cases, the manufacturer or wholesaler sends the goods to B2B, and then those goods are sold to the ultimate consumer. 

Moreover, in the B2B2C model, the manufacturer or wholesaler directly sells its products to the final consumer. This can happen either by a partnership with B2B or by directly selling to final consumers. Also, all these transactions happen online, through ecommerce websites and applications. 

2. Wholesale 

Most businesses generally purchase the goods in bulk at a low price and then they sell them at retail value. The products or goods are directly bought from the distributors or wholesalers. This buying of goods at a low price from the distributors or manufacturers by other businesses is generally known as wholesale. It is one of the most popular forms of B2B ecommerce. 

Furthermore, the B2B wholesale model is present in a lot of industries, namely food service, retail, construction, medical, etc. In the past, B2B wholesale transactions took place via email, phone, or spreadsheets. 

But with the advent of wholesale Ecommerce, everything is digital or online. The best thing about digital Ecommerce is that wholesalers can show or display their goods to the world. This improves the buying experience.

A contributing factor to the growth of the B2B ecommerce sector is the conversion of B2Cs. Compared to B2C purchases, business-to-business transactions are typically larger and depend more heavily on established vendor connections. 

3. Manufacturers 

Coming over to the third type of B2B ecommerce i.e., Manufacturers. The manufacturers or producers produce the finished products on a big scale by making use of raw materials, machines, and labor. 

In this B2B business model, the finished goods are sold to the wholesalers, Suppliers or other manufacturers. 

The automobile industry is a great example of this type of B2B model. The manufacturer of automobiles generally makes individual car parts like an engine and fuel pump. After that, manufacturers sell those parts to an automotive company. Then, that automotive company builds the whole car from those parts and sells it to the ultimate consumer. 

4. Distributors 

A distributor is a person who works with the manufacturers. They display and sell the goods produced by manufacturers. The ultimate goal of distributors is to increase sales. 

In this Ecommerce model of business, the transactions happen online which increases the opportunities. Also, a lot of producers and manufacturers work with the distributors to expand their businesses. 

Just like the other business models, distributors work with manufacturers just to reduce the time from sales to delivery. They also create a consumer experience that satisfies the consumers fully. 

5. Turning Into Wholesale from Customer Focused Business 

Do you know why the business-to-business ecommerce market is touching the sky?

Yes, you guessed it right!

They are expanding continuously because the “Business to Consumer” Ecommerce model is switching to the “Business to Business” Model.

Though it’s possible to make this change, it involves a small learning curve. The B2B transactions are generally larger than B2C transactions. Also, the sales of B2B Ecommerce generally rely on the relationship with their sellers.

Stages of a B2B Ecommerce Business 

Like a tree, which starts off as a seedling and needs various resources to grow, your B2B company will go through multiple stages of business development, each of which will call for different funding, advertising approaches, and other resources. 

B2B ecommerce businesses, much like any other venture, experience various stages throughout their lifecycle. Each business has its unique journey, but most B2B companies typically navigate through four general stages: startup, growth, expansion, and maturity. 

  1. Startup: This is the exciting and challenging initial stage, where the focus is on laying the foundation. At this point, the business is usually small, often with just a handful of dedicated team members working tirelessly.  

At this point, your company’s primary focus should be on studying your target market and identifying consumer categories. Sales are often modest but gradually increasing. You will most likely need to modify your product or advertising once you start making your first sales in response to feedback and demand from customers. 

The main goals are to develop a product or service that truly meets the needs of your target market and to secure the necessary funding to keep the dream alive. It’s a time of creativity, innovation, and often, a lot of trial and error. 

  1. Growth: Once the business has found its footing and starts generating revenue, it enters the growth stage. This phase is all about scaling up. You’ll likely be hiring more employees, expanding your offerings, and reaching out to new markets.  
    This stage frequently comes with it more competition, so you’ll need to review your business plan and give important aspects like marketing, operations, and sales model careful thought. The focus shifts to building a strong and loyal customer base and establishing your brand as a leader in the industry. It’s an exhilarating period of rapid development and increasing momentum. 
  1. Expansion: In the expansion stage, your business aims to reach new heights. By now, you’ve built a solid presence in your market, and it’s time to think bigger.  
    The market may get more saturated and new competitors take market share, which could cause this expansion to slow down.
    Now the focus is on entering new markets and introducing new products or services. This might involve exciting ventures like mergers and acquisitions, forming strategic partnerships, or even taking your business international. It’s a time of bold moves and strategic decisions. 
  1. Maturity: Mature is the last stage, during which your company has established a reliable and lucrative place in the market. Even if your company is still growing and dominating, it’s probably not doing so as quickly as it was during the expansion phase. 
     
    The objective is now to hold onto this position and expand responsibly or you now have to decide whether to create an exit strategy or start over as a B2B company. It is possible for your company to prolong its life cycle and return to the expansion stage by investing in new ecommerce technology and investigating untapped markets. They include streamlining your business processes, making research and development investments, and making constant adjustments to keep ahead of market trends. It’s about making sure you stay viable in the long run and securing your success. 

The path to success is rarely a straight line, and every B2B business will face its share of setbacks and unexpected challenges. However, by understanding these four stages and their associated goals, you can develop a thoughtful roadmap for growth and navigate your way toward lasting success.

Want to Know How to Start a B2B Ecommerce Business from Scratch?

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Top B2B Commerce Platforms You Need to Know About

Ready to revolutionise your business with a top-notch B2B Ecommerce platform? These platforms are game changers, designed to streamline your operations and boost your sales. Here are some of the best B2B commerce platforms that can take your business to the next level:

B2B Ecommerce platform’s high subscription fees holding you back?

Enjoy all the enterprise B2B features and get custom B2B feature build for your ecommerce store with

Magento (Adobe Commerce) 

Why It’s Awesome: This Ecommerce platform is known for its flexibility and extensive features, Magento Commerce allows you to create tailored B2B experiences. Its open-source nature means you can fully customise your platform to meet your unique business needs. 
Standout Features: Advanced pricing rules, multi-channel support, and comprehensive inventory management.

Shopify Plus 

Why It’s Awesome: Shopify Plus is a robust, scalable platform perfect for high-growth businesses. It offers advanced customisation options, seamless integrations, and powerful analytics tools to help you manage and grow your B2B operations effortlessly. 

Standout Features: Customisable checkout, automated workflows, and a dedicated support team.

BigCommerce 

Why It’s Awesome: BigCommerce offers a robust solution for B2B businesses with its easy-to-use interface and powerful features. It’s designed to handle complex product catalogs and pricing structures, making it a favorite among wholesalers and manufacturers. 
Standout Features: B2B-specific payment options, quote management, and extensive API capabilities.

Want t[ Learn More about the best Platforms for B2B!

Check out our comprehensive blog!

Advantage of Using a B2B Ecommerce Platform

There are a lot of merits of using a B2B ecommerce platform, and they are very important for the success of a business. 

So, here are some of the reasons why B2B Ecommerce is advantageous: 

1. Customer Reach 

The first thing you should know about B2B ecommerce is, there is no limit or boundaries to the customer’s reach. Your business is exposed and displayed to a large number of customers, and it indeed is a great thing. 

Furthermore, an eCommerce website that has catalogs for public display reaches more customers than usual. By going digital, you can also make use of digital marketing strategies. Those proven will surely help in increasing the reach. 

In addition to this, everyone prefers buying online now and this will continue in the future too. Now, the B2B buyers are also involved in buying the goods online. The reason behind this is the convenience. Buying goods digitally is way more efficient and easier than traditional buying. 

2. Better Customers and Suppliers Management 

B2B Ecommerce offers good management for both customers and suppliers. Going online means you can make use of various business management software. This will help you in getting the exact data and pattern of purchases. 

Also, you’ll be able to utilise this vital information to be better and to create a more personalised experience for the consumers. Ultimately, the whole motive of this initiative is to benefit both parties. 

3. Sell More to the Old Customers 

You’ll not only reach out to the new customers, but Ecommerce also allows you to implement automatic cross-sell to the old customers. This goes together with providing the buyers with a more personalised experience. You’ll be able to assist them in finding new products even when they’ll not ask for them. Basically, it works much like a personal sales associate. 

4. Improved Data Analytics 

B2B ecommerce offers a perfect platform for a business to launch an extensive analytics campaign. Most importantly, with the help of analytics, various B2Bs can make great decisions. 

Moreover, this feature is available for every B2B Ecommerce platform that offers a detailed analysis of sales effectiveness. Also, you can create several types of reports to know about the progress of your business. 

In addition to this, analytics will also help you in identifying what’s good for your business and what’s not. With the help of analytics, you can also find out the preferences and wishes of your customer. To conclude, this feature is the boss of everything else. It will play a significant role in the success of your business.

B2B Ecommerce Misconceptions

Sure, B2B ecommerce might lag behind B2C in some areas, but the truth is clear: B2B is rapidly going digital. Despite this shift, several misconceptions still cloud the industry, let’s expose some common myths. 

Myth 1: You’re Not Selling B2B 

Many brands don’t realise they’re already engaging in B2B sales. Selling B2B can take various forms: 

  1. Wholesale Business. 
  2. Distribution relationships with large or multi-location retailers. 
  3. Selling to organisations like businesses, schools, and nonprofits firms. 
  4. Suppliers selling to resellers.

You don’t have to be a supplier to engage in B2B sales. Many brands operate in both B2B and B2C spheres. And no, you don’t need a separate ecommerce site for B2B. Optimise site engagement and SEO on a single URL, using customer groups to personalise browsing experiences for your B2B segment. 

Myth 2: B2B Customers Don’t Want to Order Online 

As younger generations step into managerial and purchasing roles, their preference for ecommerce over traditional methods becomes evident. B2B customers increasingly desire B2C-like conveniences: 

  1. 41% of B2b customer want self-service functionality to make online shopping easier. 
  1. 73% of B2B executives say customer expectations for personalised experiences have significantly increased. 
  1. 50% of B2B buyers identify improved personalisation as crucial when choosing online suppliers. 

Unlike older generations, young men conduct extensive independent research before engaging with salespeople, often mimicking B2C buying behaviors. To be considered by these buying committees, your brand needs a strong online presence.

Myth 3: Ecommerce Requires Price Transparency 

Most B2B researchers (89%) use the internet extensively, conducting around 12 searches before engaging with a brand. This shift to ecommerce means B2B customers expect practices like price transparency and personalisation. However, with low margins and fierce competition, many brands hesitate to make prices public. 

To balance transparency with competitiveness, consider showing prices only after customers log in. This way, only your customers see the prices, tailored to their negotiated agreements. For non-logged-in prospects, requiring a call for pricing can maintain confidentiality while encouraging engagement.

B2B Ecommerce platform Integration

Customise or Integrate Bespoke Enterprice B2B feature in your Existing Ecommerce store with our B2B Excellence Platform

Myth 4: Online Ordering does not build long term relations 

Personal relationships are crucial in B2B, often built through phone calls, dinners, and visits. While an online store might seem impersonal, it doesn’t have to be. Millennials, now leading many B2B purchasing decisions, prefer a streamlined digital experience. 

A Report found that 55% of buyers value a digital buying experience when factors like price and quality are equal. With 24/7 chat technology, you can offer real-time support via text, Facebook Messenger, or other channels, providing the personal touch customers desire. Speedy responses can replicate the quality of face-to-face interactions, ensuring customer satisfaction. 

Myth 5: An Online Store Negates Custom Ordering 

B2B transactions often involve custom orders, vital for maintaining personal relationships. Contrary to popular belief, custom orders are possible with Ecommerce. Tools for custom quoting, unique variants, and segmented customer groups enable businesses to handle custom orders efficiently. Customers can submit quote requests anytime, and businesses can review and respond during regular hours. Once a custom order is set, customers can easily reorder without repeating the quote process. 

Myth 6: Customers Aren’t Willing to Make Big-Ticket Purchases Online 

Bespoke orders are quite possible with B2B clients and wholesalers, and many B2B companies wish to fulfill bespoke orders because it strengthens the personal connection. 

But contrary to popular belief, personalised orders aren’t always the standard in online shopping. 

Custom quoting tools, unique variants, and segmented client groups enable B2B companies to enable customers to submit a PDF quote round-the-clock. The company may then assess the quote and determine whether the unique order can be fulfilled during regular business hours. 

After that, your online store can add the client to a special customer group so that they won’t have to use the quote engine again when they place another order. Instead, all they have to do is click to view the item that has been customised particularly for them. 

Want These customised B2B feature in your Existing store Contact us today!

B2B Commerce vs. B2C Commerce

At first glance, the apps or websites supporting B2B commerce might look similar to those designed for consumer commerce. However, B2B platforms offer additional functionality tailored to the unique needs of businesses. 

For instance, a B2B commerce site might feature bulk pricing options since companies often need to order large quantities for their workforces. These sites might also provide different payment options beyond standard consumer methods like credit cards or PayPal. This is because B2B buyers often need to navigate approval processes and pay for large orders via invoice. 

Larger business deals, such as those involving SaaS sales, often require negotiation. In these cases, users typically don’t complete the transaction directly through the website. Instead, they connect with a sales rep via the site to start the enterprise sales process. 

The distinction between B2B and B2C commerce websites isn’t always clear-cut. Take Amazon, for example. It’s the largest B2C commerce site on the web, projected to generate over $400 billion in revenue according to Forrester and other analysts. But Amazon also serves as a marketplace for businesses. individual business owners or major brands any merchants can open stores within the Amazon platform and sell directly to consumers. This dual functionality means Amazon operates as both a B2C and B2B commerce solution. 

In summary, while B2B and B2C commerce platforms may share some similarities, B2B platforms are specifically designed to meet the more complex needs of businesses. This includes features like bulk pricing, diverse payment options, and the ability to facilitate large-scale negotiations.

Want to take your B2B ecommerce business to the next level?

Discover the Eight Techniques to Step Up Your B2B eCommerce Business in our comprehensive guide

Examples of B2B Ecommerce we Worked with

Almost every kind of business has adopted the B2B ecommerce model. Here are some examples of the businesses that have adopted B2B ecommerce that we have personally worked with at RVS Media

1.  Amathus Drinks

Amathus Drinks provides first-class products and services for on-trade, specialist retail, and direct-to-consumer markets. Having eight stores in London they offer expert advice on wine and spirits.

Amathus Drinks

Solution: 

  • Developed a specialised login portal for trade customers with exclusive access and personalised dashboards. 
  • Integrated negotiation buttons on product pages, streamlining deal-making with automated workflows. 
  • Optimised platform performance with caching, database enhancements, and load balancing, reducing page load times by 40%. 

Results: 

  • Enhanced trade customer experience led to higher engagement and repeat business. 
  • Simplified process, reducing time and effort. 
  • 40% faster page loads and higher transaction efficiency.

2.  Gemar

Gemar is among the world’s largest manufacturers of natural latex balloons and has positioned itself as the undisputed industry leader in Europe.

Gemar_b2b

Solution: 

  • Developed a specialised login portal for trade customers with exclusive access and personalised dashboards. 
  • Integrated negotiation buttons on product pages, streamlining deal-making with automated workflows. 
  • Cretaed a bulk ordering functionality besopke to their Specific business needs. 

Results: 

  • Enhanced trade customer experience led to higher engagement and repeat business. 
  • Simplified processes, reducing time and effort for trade transactions.

Conclusion

Here we are at the end of this blog and we guess now you are aware of all the things that you wanted to know. It’s a misbelief that an Ecommerce world cannot keep up with the needs of the business to business brands and sellers. 

To conclude, we would just say that you can allocate funds to your B2B Ecommerce website launch. This includes work with partners and agencies too. 

Although you need to make a big investment, the results you’ll get will be much higher than the initial expenditure.