B2B eCommerce: What is it and what can it do?

Last Updated on February 8, 2021 by Dan Christoffersen

What is eCommerce

B2B eCommerce is on the rise. And for good reason. In fact, we argue, that if you want your B2B wholesale business to have a place in the future, investing in B2B eCommerce is a must!

In this blog post, we help you understand the basics of B2B eCommerce. Specifically, we are going to answer two questions of “what”. 

  • What is it? 
  • And what can it do for my business?

What is B2B?

To understand what B2B eCommerce is, you first need to understand what B2B is. 

B2B stands for business-to-business and is the process of selling products between businesses. In comparison, B2C is the process of selling products from a business to a consumer.

A good example of B2B is a brand that sells its products to retailers (both physical and webshop). These retailers resell the products to the end-consumer. They sell from the retailer to the consumer is B2C, while they sell from the brand to the retailer is B2B.

Another example of B2B could be a software company – like us here at Turis – that provides a software service that other businesses can use and benefit from.

Read more about B2B here.

What is eCommerce?

Next, you need to know what eCommerce is. ECommerce means electronic commerce and is the process of buying and selling products and services via the internet. The purchasing of products and services and the transactions of payment all take place online.

The first real eCommerce transaction took place in August 1994, when Dan Kohn sold a Sting CD to one of his friends online. Since then, eCommerce has grown in popularity, and the eCommerce share of total transactions is growing steadily each year.

B2B, B2C, C2C…

In addition to B2B (Business-to-Business) eCommerce, and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) eCommerce that we already mentioned, there is a long list of other types of eCommerce. A few examples are:

  • C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer)
  • C2B (Consumer-to-Business)
  • B2G (Business-to-Government)

Direct vs marketplace

Furthermore, you can also divide eCommerce into direct sales and marketplaces. In direct sales, the seller offers their product directly from their own online eCommerce shop – be that B2B or B2C. A customer orders directly from the seller and pays the seller directly as well.

In a marketplace, there is a third-party in charge of the eCommerce platform. The marketplace does not own the products sold on their platform but merely allows sellers and buyers to find each other via their platform. As payment for their service, they usually take a small cut of the transaction costs.

A great example of an eCommerce company is Amazon, where you can buy pretty much anything directly from your tablet, phone, or computer. Amazon operates both as a direct eCommerce store and as a marketplace, and within both the B2C and C2C market.

What is B2B eCommerce?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, B2B eCommerce is: 

Businesses selling their products to other businesses online.

This can be both directly or via a marketplace. For the remainder of this blog post, we will focus on the direct B2B eCommerce.

This concludes the first “what” part of the question. Up next is the much more interesting “what”; What can it do?

Woman on ipad

What can b2b eCommerce do?

Now that you know what it is, it is time to learn what B2B eCommerce can do for your company. 

First of all, for companies to be able to do eCommerce between businesses, they will in most cases need what is called a B2B eCommerce platform (often a B2B eCommerce website).

B2B eCommerce platforms

There exist many different eCommerce platforms. 

Mostly B2C eCommerce platforms, but also a few for handling B2B sales. 

What is common for most (if not all) of the B2B platforms is that they include a B2B webshop. 

This is the heart and soul of every B2B platform. Why? Because it’s here where the actual purchasing of products takes place.

B2B webshop

The B2B webshop is very similar to the B2C webshop that most people are familiar with. It is an online display of the products that the seller sells, and the customer can order with just a couple of clicks.

There are, however, a few subtle differences between a B2C and B2B webshop. For instance, in a B2B shop, the customers often have to buy units in cases. Depending on the product, sometimes they are sold 2 units in a case. Sometimes 6 or 12 units in a case. And for smaller products, perhaps 20, 50, or 100 units in a case. In comparison, in B2C webshops, the customer is typically allowed to order one unit at a time.

Also, B2B webshops are designed to take differentiated pricing into account. This means, that two B2B customers logging in to shop in the same webshop will be shown their unique prices. In a B2C webshop, the customers are almost always paying the same price for the products.

Other features

Apart from the B2B webshop, some B2B eCommerce platforms contain additional features. Some of the most common examples of these features are:

  • Product information and Customer management
  • Images & content banks
  • Integrated invoicing

Some B2B eCommerce platforms, like Turis, for example, also includes a dashboard with KPI’s and data visualizations to help the user get insights on their business and sales.

Advantages of B2B eCommerce

As of now, it should be obvious that the main effect of B2B eCommerce is the digitization of sales. The advantages of digitization, however, are numerous

The most obvious advantage is the time and money businesses save from not having to handle B2B orders analog. 

Using an eCommerce platform instead of manual order handling also means less risk of order errors. If you want to learn more about the many other benefits of Turis’ eCommerce platform you can read our in-depth blog post on the topic here.

Do you want your B2B company to enter into the digital era? 

Then you should consider investing in your own eCommerce platform. Turis is the most affordable platform you will find on the market – see for yourself.

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