As the name suggests, Business-to-Business (B2B) is a type of commercial transaction between two businesses. There are a wide variety of transaction types that this might encompass, such as between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a customer-facing retailer.
This contrasts with other types of commercial transactions, such as between a company and an individual consumer. This latter type of commercial relationship is known as ‘business-to-consumer‘ (B2C). You can also have ‘business-to-government’ (B2G) transactions, which describes a transaction between a commercial entity and a government or public body.
B2B relationships and transactions are common in any type of commercial supply chain, as they most often capture the purchase of components, products or other raw materials by a company for manufacturing or sale.
B2C transactions are the last stage in this supply chain, which captures the final sale of the finished product to an individual consumer.
As with many other aspects of the commercial world, the emergence of the internet has both shaped and facilitated B2B transactions in the modern age. In much the same way that e-commerce platforms have revolutionized the way we shop for and acquire goods and services, e-commerce platforms have similarly impacted how B2B transactions are carried out.
According to a 2022 industry report, the global B2B e-commerce market was worth around $6.92tn dollars in 2021. This same report also estimates that this figure will rise to a staggering $18.97tn in 2028 at a compound annual growth of 18.30%.
These are truly staggering figures and give us a sense not only of the importance of B2B transactions to the global economy as a whole, but also how e-commerce has proved to be a disruptive force — particularly when compared to a 2018 report that estimated the B2B e-commerce market would reach
$1.134tn by 2023.
B2B e-ecommerce platforms — also known as ‘B2B platforms’ — have proved essential to the growth of B2B e-commerce in general, as they provide a robust, accessible and cost-effective way for a business to find out about products and services offered by other businesses in particular supply chains.
They also provide an efficient means for interested businesses to initiate contact and to start building commercial relationships with each other.
This might come in the form of a direct transaction that is initiated and carried out within a relatively short timeframe. Alternatively, it might be used to initiate procurement processes.
Other B2B platforms act as specialized directories where B2B players can be listed, which provides other interested parties with information about their industry and the relevant products and services they offer.
For the business providing the goods or service, B2B e-commerce platforms are particularly useful as they allow for order management. This includes everything from initially processing orders, organizing shipping and providing the customer with updates about their orders. They can also be used to manage ongoing customer service relationships.
In terms of the most important features a B2B platform should have, the following features are particularly important:
· Accessibility and usability: Is the website equally easy to use for the seller and the buyer?
· Corporate account management: Does it allow the client to easily manage their corporate account?
· Order management: Does it allow you to easily manage orders, whether that is processing new orders or amending existing ones? Does it support automated ordering? Can it handle high-volume order processing?
· Catalog management: How easily does it allow you to manage your catalog?
· Shopping lists: Does your B2B platform support shopping lists? These are great for allowing clients to keep track of their future orders and provides you with an opportunity to upsell.
These are just a few of the features to keep in mind when you are looking for a new B2B platform.
It is also important to keep in mind that your needs will also be industry dependent. With this in mind, what a client in the fast-moving consumer goods space needs, will differ quite significantly from a business such as the Gaming Innovation Group, which operates in the iGaming space.
Needless to say, the internet has completely changed how we buy, sell and access goods and services. With it, the nature of B2B relationships have changed as well.
We are now entering an era where B2B relationships are easier than ever to build. However, with so much competition out there, they have also never been easier to lose. With that said, choosing the right B2B platform to support your business will be an important step in ensuring you remain competitive in the digital age.