B2B eCommerce Complete Guide: Everything You Need to Know

B2B eCommerce Complete Guide: Everything You Need to Know


09 August 2022

By attalime

Digital commerce is one of the business enablers nowadays. The implementation became massive across various channels, devices, sectors, and markets. If talking about e-commerce, it is not only for B2C transactions. B2B is also possible for using e-commerce and is called B2B commerce. 


It is concerned with business-to-business transactions and, like B2C commerce, considers the needs and desires of business consumers. And on this article, we will deep dive into the B2B e-commerce definition, its advantages, the types, and how to know when a business needs e-commerce. So, let’s dive in!

What is B2B Commerce? 

B2B Commerce is an online trading platform where both parties are businesses. In other words, a transaction is conducted between companies where a company sells products or services to another company, such as wholesalers and online retailers. 

B2B businesses come in many shapes, sizes, and business models, such as manufacturing, accounting, marketing, digital advertising services, education, retail, technology, telecommunication, engineering, etc. In B2B commerce transactions, improving purchasing efficiency and effectiveness for wholesalers, manufacturers, distributors, and other B2B sellers.

And if we talk about the opportunities, B2B e-Commerce has a vast and significant figure which is not inferior to B2C. According to Jakarta Globe, B2B e-commerce in Indonesia is forecast to have a market size of US$21.3 billion in 2023. 

With this myriad of opportunities, B2B e-commerce has become critical to your business’s success by enabling companies to trade electronically and through portals that allow security and privacy. 

One of the key-driven is the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2020 that triggered a boom in B2B e-commerce. A McKinsey study shows how digital channels have become essential to businesses since the outbreak of Covid 19. Not only did the lockdown require more digital interactions, but more customers wanted digital and self-service options, which changed customer preferences accordingly. 

How B2B Commerce Works? 

B2B transactions happen in the supply chain when companies purchase parts, materials, and equipment to manufacture their products or sell them as finished goods. Businesses also buy items for internal use, such as paper and printers, from his B2B sellers. When procurement is done through online portals such as Alibaba, that’s how B2B e-commerce works. 

The parties involved in the B2B supply chain are manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers. The products moving between these parties depend on the distribution channel. And here are the workflow of B2B e-commerce.

  1. Creating or sourcing products. B2B commerce starts with manufacturers using raw materials to create physical goods at scale. 
  2. Selecting a distribution channel. After creating the product, the manufacturer either chooses to sell the product directly to the customer (i.e., the business) or works with an intermediary distributor or agency to sell the product on their behalf. 
  3. Moving products through the supply chain. The distributor, agency, or third parties will find and offer retailers or wholesalers interested in the manufacturer’s product. Wholesalers sell manufacturer’s products in bulk to retailers, who resell the products directly to consumers.

The Advantages of B2B Commerce

Let’s talk about the advantages of B2B Commerce that underline its importance in today’s commercial world. 

The Advantages of B2B Commerce

  • Expand the customer reach anytime, anywhere

The rise of e-commerce allows access to buyers anywhere and anytime. So does the B2B e-commerce gives access to new stores, geographies, product catalogs, divisions, and more to reach out to B2B buyers globally. 

You can maximize the power of SEO to promote your offerings to your current customers and the opportunity to expand into different markets and attract new customers or clients. With B2B e-commerce, your digital sales channel is available 24/7, 365 days a year. And B2B e-commerce makes it easier to serve a broader international market because there will be no time difference issues. 

  • Better inventory management

Good inventory management is crucial for B2B Commerce because it allows sellers to manage the order fulfillment process quickly and easily. It is possible because it keeps records of the stock. When your customer base is growing exponentially, delivering on customer orders as expected is essential because failure to do so can affect in a loss of customers and reputational damage.

That’s why most companies use integrated inventory and B2B eCommerce software to manage their B2B stocks effectively and ensure the e-commerce store displays are up-to-date and accurate. This inventory system will help you not run out of stock or order too much, which can be costly. 

The most interesting is this system can also set alerts when stock levels are low and reorder products. And this inventory management data will give you a wealth of insights to inform future business decisions.

  • Offer customer-centric experience

B2B e-commerce can build trust and encourage more sales interaction by providing a customer-centric experience. Every B2B company has an opportunity to enhance its revenue by offering a delightful experience. And you better not skip this because here’s what your customers are likely to experience.

In recent days, before purchasing products or services, people tend to research products and services. And your B2B e-commerce will give them access to self-service portals equipped with reviews, product descriptions, shipping and handling information, order history, and delivery tracking information. 

As a store or business owner, you can be availing the personalization capabilities of B2B eCommerce platforms, such as personalizing the storefronts and displaying the products to customers’ demand. And you can also gain access to every customer’s data, and transactions allow you to offer completely personalized and customer-centric support to customers.

​​With rich content, intuitive design, and interactive features, B2B e-commerce ensures a great customer experience for both retail and B2B buyers. 

  • Efficient costs

At first, you might wonder, how come B2B commerce offers lower costs? But if you realize that countless emails, phone calls, and other activities involved in offline commerce are time-consuming and take up margin hits. 

Conversely, B2B e-commerce allows customers to do the work themselves by reaching out to your website. And that makes them feel good too, because it’s their choice after taking time and consideration to research and review. 

Moreover, B2B commerce allows you to automate order management – everything that happens after the purchase. So, how convenient is it? 

  • Data-driven decisions and strategy

Another benefit of B2B commerce is it lets you streamline and automate time-consuming processes. The most exciting thing is granted unique insights into the data that matters for sales and marketing operations, especially if you integrate the B2B e-commerce platform with the ERP system.

The ERP can calculate detailed sales statistics for your clients, such as order totals, revenue, profit percentages, or even discounts within a specific period. It will let you make informed decisions and get precise data on what works for your business to make the best decisions in the future.

Type of B2B Commerce

There are three common types of B2B Commerce, each differing in terms of its audience and scope. And here are the details of B2B e-commerce:

Buyer oriented

In a buyer-centric marketplace, there are more buyers than sellers. In this situation, the buyer has its own internet market that allows suppliers and manufacturers to display their products and take bids on the request for quotes (RFQ). For you who are wholesalers, these B2B marketplaces are cost-effective for selling goods or items to buyers and merchants.

An example of this type of business is Walmart. Walmart has stores worldwide and influences many suppliers based on their location. As a result, Walmart must set delivery standards that suppliers should comply with. The general rule, bids are submitted between local suppliers and can be offered to the organization by the highest bidders.

Intermediary oriented

It is one of the most popular B2B models, providing a common platform for sellers and buyers to interact and trade with each other. This common platform is formed by intermediaries. Buyers often miss related products available in the digital market. The third marketplace is an excellent addition platform. 

For example, eBay and OLX provide a platform for connecting with potential buyers of products or services. You agree to the terms and conditions of the fees charged by these third parties. Every time a transaction or sale is made, the intermediary makes a certain amount of money.

Supplier oriented

The e-commerce business acts as a supplier to other companies in a supplier-oriented model. It is mainly due to many buyers and few sellers in the market. In this model, companies typically sell their products to various companies through their own or other platforms. 

Cisco is an excellent example of a supplier-centric model. Cisco has its market for selling network equipment to other companies. Supplier-centric models usually mean that you are in control of product pricing and inventory.

The Must-Have Features for B2B Commerce

You might be curious, what are the features of B2B e-Commerce needs? No worries, here are the essential B2B e-commerce features to consider when assessing a new or replacement platform.

Must-Have Features for B2B Commerce

Greater focus on the user or customer experience 

When a brand or business creates an e-commerce website, one of the most important things is the user experience. A B2B customer should resonate with the user experience and user interface (UX/UI) of the brand and the website to provide a more satisfying and enjoyable experience during shopping. 

You may consider automating videos for your e-commerce products because the video is more visually appealing than text. Increasing creative quality and volume may result in higher conversions. And nowadays more B2B companies are turning to improved UX/UI with personalization options. What kind of criteria to achieve this user or customer experience? 

  • User-friendly and intuitively designed templates. 
  • Customizable and brandable. 
  • Responsive on various devices.
  • Easily add tools like lead gen forms, personalization plugins, and reward programs.
  • Open for extension and integration with other systems, such as CRM, ERP, etc. 

Product catalog 

Every e-commerce platform requires a dedicated content management system (CMS). So does the B2B e-commerce, which supports product information management and online presentation. Besides, the CMS must support product taxonomy with necessary hierarchy levels, product descriptions, pictures, specifications, prices, manuals in PDF format, and videos. Some product types may require a unique configurator to select the necessary parts and options. 

A robust search engine is essential for companies with bulky catalogs. Another requirement is that B2B commerce needs to be able to share its catalog across multiple channels such as social media shops, marketplace, etc. But if the base platform doesn’t have the required product information management functionality, you can consider extending it with a compatible third-party application.

Product pricing

Before purchasing, business buyers must understand product pricing and compare it with different sources. All customers can see the different prices for the same product. An existing customer from an organization with an agreement that subscribes with a specific discount may see a lower price than all store visitors. 

That’s why ensure your e-commerce platform supports pricing by customer group. For example, a platform that supports bulk purchase discounts, price lists, and promotions for select groups. All store visitors, including new customers, should be able to understand unit prices and volume discounts to make decisions. Because usually, corporate buyers are value-oriented, and procurement departments often need to compare “apple to apple” to approve purchases.

Quick & easy reordering capability

B2B purchasers often make repeat purchases following a replenishment cycle. A B2B store user must view all previously purchased company-level products with company-specific base prices. 

And other quick order features for B2B purchasers include: 

– Manage and save multiple shopping lists. Retrieve it for later use and seamlessly purchase previously saved products. 

– Quick Order: Upload a list of products for the company’s custom quick order page.

Bulk order capability

Bulk orders and wholesale purchases are fundamental to B2B transactions. B2B e-commerce websites need to make large purchases as seamless as possible for their customers. Pricing, bulk quantity, availability, and shipping estimates are essential aspects of the bulk order user experience. Solutions like wholesale order management software go a step further and offer a range of B2B e-commerce features that streamline your wholesale workflow end-to-end. 

Corporate account management 

As a B2B buyer or purchaser, one or more persons may represent a business account at any time. Remember that the business accounts remain the same, but individuals can change. The Corporate Account Management Tool allows business administrators to set up multiple levels of buyers with specific roles and permission levels. Users with company admin access can manage other users in their organization account.

Payment flexibility

Today’s B2B payment methods are a mix of traditional and modern payment methods. B2B buyers may require specific payment options depending on the type of business. So, for B2B commerce, supporting a wide range of payment methods can contribute to a great checkout experience. And you can ensure that your B2B platform should allow your customers to manage and pay their invoices quickly with flexible payment options.

How Do You Know You Need B2B Commerce Software

There are many reasons why companies choose software specifically designed for the e-commerce B2B market. Your company may be able to achieve a positive ROI very quickly with a digital commerce solution if it can be identified by one or more of the following: 

  • I have no online presence or experience managing a customer’s e-commerce store. From a workflow, user experience, and shopping experience perspective, it cannot meet the needs of  B2B buyers. 
  • There are complex and interconnected product data, pricing, orders, checkouts, and customer segments.  
  • You must perform manual tasks such as entering, filing, updating, and maintaining the correct customer, product, and order data. 
  • It can’t be scaled on a large scale without encountering performance issues or poor user experience. 
  • You cannot track and optimize your customer journey for a mobile, localized, and personalized customer experience.  
  • You cannot integrate other business systems, solutions, and processes with your e-commerce system. 
  • Your current e-commerce platforms are expensive, difficult to use, and do not meet the needs of the product or user experience.

So if you have to tick more than one, you need a B2B e-commerce website to enhance your B2B business to the next level. 

Create Your B2B E-commerce Website with Limecommerce

Reading all the explanations above convinces you that B2B eCommerce is an excellent approach to attract new clients and boost revenue. A right and suitable B2B e-commerce platform can help you achieve your goals, enhancing inventory management, optimizing your accounting process, and increasing sales and revenue.


Magento could be a consideration for building your B2B e-commerce website. With its basic e-commerce functionalities, Magento also offers B2B features tailored to serve B2B merchants’ specific needs, such as quotation, company accounts, purchasing management, and so on. And all you need is a trustworthy and seasoned e-commerce website builder partner or Magento development services to handle this for you.

Limecommerce has over eight (8) years of experience in B2C and B2B e-commerce services with our Magento Certified Developer to ensure your project is exceptionally delivered. We always strive to create stable and well-optimized e-commerce systems that fuel and do endless possibilities for B2B businesses. Contact us and tell us your needs, our customer representative will gladly help you.

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