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B2B Business Models: The Ultimate Guide

Are you thinking about starting a business but have difficulty understanding what exactly B2B business models are?

Well, you’re in luck because in this article, we provide a detailed guide that explains everything, from the concept of a B2B business model to the principles of its functioning, so you no longer feel intimidated or confused and can nail down as a pro.

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B2B Business Models: An Exploration

The B2B business model is quite different from the B2C business model, in ways that require careful examination from anyone considering making the leap to B2B.

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The B2B business model is quite different from the B2C business model. To anyone who has not studied business, the distinction is obvious at a surface-level. However, the biggest variances are below the surface - in the supply chain, in price negotiation, and in distribution, to name a few. The implications of these dissimilarities are so far-reaching, in fact, that they require careful examination from anyone considering making the leap to B2B.

Let’s take a closer look.

What is the B2B Business Model? In the B2B, or business-to-business model, businesses exchange products, services, or information with each other. The transaction might be between a manufacturer and wholesaler, or a wholesaler and retailer. In any case, the business transaction takes place between companies instead of between a company and consumer. In both cases, each business benefits in some way.

For instance, a company might purchase raw materials necessary for use in manufacturing its product. Once manufactured, the company sells the finished product to a wholesaler. Both transactions are B2B - one business is purchasing and/or selling a product to/from another business.

What is the Difference Between B2B and B2C? In the B2C, or business-to-consumer model, a business sells its products or services directly to consumers. In this model, the business is closer to the consumer, interacting with them directly to support the use of their product or service.

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Types of B2B Business Models Customer-centric A customer-centric business model is one in which company A sells its product and provides service to customer companies B, C, and D, who use it. Businesses that follow this model seek to distinguish themselves from competitors by providing a superior product and service that gains them brand loyalty over time. For instance, Microsoft Office sells its software to businesses, then relies on the strength of the software itself, and Microsoft’s ability to support its use through customer-centered relationships, to stimulate brand loyalty.

In this model, company A acts as a supplier for company B. Most often, company A has control over the pricing and inventory of the products it sells and the marketplace through which it sells its products to other businesses.

Buyer-centric Businesses that utilize a buyer-centric business model are often large corporations with extensive purchasing power. In this model, company A is looking to procure products and has its own online marketplace or portal where it invites suppliers (companies B, C, and D), to put up bids for its business.

For example, a corporation may set up an online portal to accept bids for shipping and logistics services in a certain region. Bidders (sellers of shipping and logistics services) will enter quotes in the online portal; the corporation (buyer of services) will typically proceed with the bid that is most profitable for the business.

Intermediary-centric In an intermediary-centric business model, an intermediary business provides a platform for buyers and sellers to come together, interact, and develop a business relationship. The intermediary charges a fee for providing a platform that brokers the relationship. The intermediary’s payment may come in the form of a membership fee, transaction fee, or a commission on the value of the deal that is brokered between the two entities.

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce site, is an example of an intermediary-centric business model in practice.

B2B Business Model Advantages

Large Average Deal Size B2B businesses can grow revenue by closing a small number of high-value sales; whereas, a B2C business typically must close hundreds, thousands, or even millions of individual sales to see significant revenue growth. While large deals between businesses often stimulate a collaborative mindset when it comes to distribution decisions, the deals themselves are costly and time-consuming, placing a premium on reliable partners. Accordingly, when businesses find mutually beneficial solutions to their challenges, long-term relationships and loyalty ensue.

Long-term Relationships Due to the long sales cycle, it can be difficult, time consuming, and costly, for a business customer to leave its business supplier. The customer relies on the supplier’s ability to produce a quality product or service; the supplier purchases raw materials on the understanding that the customer will purchase the finished product. The shared risk assumed by both parties in a B2B transaction strengthens the relationship. Stability is valued by both. Contracts tend to last a year or more, include guaranteed pricing, and terms are negotiated up front to reduce the risk of surprises.

While B2C customers may leave one retailer for another without much thought, B2B customers are less likely to do so.

Differentiated Product/Service Offering B2B companies strengthen their market position and reduce risk by providing specialized services and customized products to valued customers. Consider the case of a supplier who customizes a widget for their customer. The customer now has a unique product to bring to the marketplace and the supplier has become a valued business partner in the process.

In contrast, B2C companies tend to mass produce undifferentiated products that will appeal to a variety of potential customers. In doing so, they risk creating products that will appeal to no one.

Lower Marketing Costs B2B businesses target their marketing spend to a few specific individuals who hold decision-making authority at select companies. In contrast to B2C companies who may invest heavily in social media and outdoor advertising campaigns, B2B businesses invest in hiring quality staff who will maintain or enhance their brand’s image and status in the marketplace.

B2B Business Model Disadvantages

Extended Sales Cycle While consumers can make purchasing decisions based on their short-term or immediate needs, the B2B sales cycle can be months or even years long as businesses look to sustain their growth over time. Businesses manage cash flow closely while looking downstream to when they will get a return on their investment; if they see a gap in time, they may wait to buy until the last moment to reduce inventory holding costs.

Multiple Decision-Makers In a B2C transaction, the individual has 100 percent authority to make a purchasing decision. In the B2B business model, multiple decision makers often must be consulted through processes and timelines unique to their business.

Limited Competitive Market The B2B market is smaller than the B2C market with fewer companies competing for market share. In the B2B business model, buyers hold the power; losing just one buyer can be devastating for a business. Because B2B buyers buy in bulk, they are accustomed to negotiating for the best possible price, have specific requirements that stretch the supplier too far, or demand extra services.

Accordingly, B2B is risky for small and mid-size companies. Finding and retaining a competitive advantage is difficult, and innovating when the marketplace demands it is costly.

Requires Greater Investment B2B companies must often provide proof, warranties, or guarantees of their ability to provide the product or service. This may require costly duplication or redundancy of systems or people, or insurance with expensive premiums and stipulations. The failure of one business in the B2B supply chain can have catastrophic downstream consequences on other businesses, making for higher upfront costs and higher barriers to entry.

B2B business models are distinct from B2C business models in many key ways. Setting a B2B business up for success requires being mindful of these differences and making accommodations for them.

If you need help putting together a strategy for your B2B or B2C business, one of our Expert Partners would love to speak with you. Contact [email protected] for more information!

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Mapping B2B business models: which one is right for you?

  • Angelo Zinna

Table of Contents

B2B business models can vary widely depending on the sector, the marketing strategy, and the position of the company on the value chain. To set up a successful enterprise, it is important to develop strong relationships with clients and suppliers. However, understanding how to best organize your business structure can be challenging, especially for first-time entrepreneurs.

In this article, we’ll discuss the various B2B business models to help you choose the strategy that will best suit your product or service. After looking into what business-to-business actually means and how it compares to a B2C enterprise, we’ll address the differences between horizontal and vertical business models.

What is a B2B business model?

If you’re reading this you are probably well aware of what B2B means, but just to set definitions straight: B2B is the acronym for “business-to-business,”used to describe transactions between industrial, commercial or service enterprises. The expression refers to all those businesses that rely on commercial exchanges with other companies, rather than directly with consumers.

From this perspective, business-to-business exchanges include all transactions established between a company and its suppliers or between a company and other companies in the same sector. What is a B2B company example?

A B2B business is anything from a company producing machinery for the production of food products to an agency offering marketing services to brands. It  involves the sale of physical tools such as medical devices or consultancies for e-commerce websites.

Vertical vs. horizontal: what is the best B2B business model?

When we talk about B2B business models we refer to two main categories, vertical and horizontal. A vertical B2B model is adopted by companies that sell products or services to businesses positioned on another level of the supply chain. Depending on the relationship between buyer and seller, a vertical model can be either downstream or upstream.

A downstream model occurs when a company relies on a raw materials supplier to keep the production going. An example could be a clothing company buying wool to make its jumpers. An upstream model functions in the opposite direction, when a company develops a relationship with a business in need of its product. An example could be a producer of buttons selling to a shirt manufacturer. As you can guess, a vertical B2B business model applies mostly to manufacturing enterprises.

A horizontal B2B model doesn’t affect the production of the final good directly, but involves transactions between companies that are either on the same level of the supply chain or operating in different sectors. A classic example would be maintenance operations or the sale of staff uniforms to a restaurant.

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Advantages and disadvantages of a B2B business model

There are many advantages to choosing a B2B business model over a B2C strategy. The key difference between the two, on an operational level, is that ideally with a B2B model you’ll be selling in higher volumes to a smaller number of customers. While negotiating with another company may take more time than with the final consumer, relationships last longer and transactions are less likely to fluctuate.

B2B business models usually require an initial investment in marketing, however it is easier to target potential clients when your product or service is directed to a specific sector. While acquiring new customers can take some effort, if well executed, a B2B business model will produce a flow of constant revenue over time coming from a loyal client base.

There are, of course, some downsides to B2B business models as well. The first thing to consider when setting up a B2B company is the size of the market. While it is possible to sell bigger amounts of products to each client, businesses are less than final consumers and require more attention than the casual buyer.

In B2B business relationships, there is always a group of people involved in decision making, rather than a single individual. Because of this, sealing a deal can be much more complicated. While in B2C businesses a single interaction between seller and buyer can lead to the purchase, signing a contract in B2B can involve multiple meetings, consultations, and weeks of negotiation.

It becomes fundamental, therefore, to have a clear idea of all the parties involved and gain an understanding of how the different company roles may affect the contracting. Knowing the expectations of the owner, the consultants, the people in charge of budgets and quality control is essential to closing a transaction.

The process of selling B2B is much slower than the immediate exchange that happens with B2C, so it is important to plan ahead and build a solid strategy that will be sustainable over time.

Go downstream: how to turn your B2B business strategy in a competitive advantage

When deciding where to position yourself with your B2B business it will be a good idea to look at the available data. The most successful B2B businesses appear to be positioned downstream on the value chain. As reported by the Harvard Business Review , while U.S. economic growth has steadily decreased over the past three decades, the installed base of products has increased in a variety of sectors, thanks to both the accumulation of past purchases and the longer life spans of products.

What this means is that while manufacturing has lost economic value over the years, the demand for maintenance services has grown greatly, creating opportunities for B2B companies based on the lower end of the value chain.

In the past, entering the manufacturing sector presented some obstacles that were difficult to overcome. In order to compete in the market, your product needed to be both superior in terms of quality and scalable in terms of quantity. In recent years, these dynamics have changed: thanks to the growth of venture funding scaling has become simpler for young startups and technological progress has allowed companies to produce better products in a shorter amount of time. Additionally, outsourcing and remote working have become a standard for many B2B businesses, helping to reduce physical assets and gain competitive advantage thanks to lower management costs.

Branding, communication, and advertising through content and events are all still essential ingredients for a successful downstream marketing strategy. An initial investment in getting your name out there will motivate other businesses to look into your product and seek a better deal than the competition.

How do B2B business models apply to e-commerce?

After reading all of this you’re probably thinking how a B2B business model applies to online businesses and e-commerce websites. These days web-based businesses are thriving and e-commerce sales have been soaring in the past years. Statista reports that the global B2B e-commerce market was valued at US$12.2 trillion in 2019, over six times that of the B2C market. The lead players in the B2B digital market are Amazon and Alibaba, who provide solutions for both large distributors and small-scale dropshippers.

Many companies have realized that there are many benefits in relying on digital solutions to support the business, starting from the immediate connection to a global audience to the ease of ordering online. There are, however, key differences to keep in mind when running an online B2B company that will impact how you set up your business model.

B2B e-commerce comes close to B2C websites in terms of user experience. Businesses and consumers both expect to be welcomed on a friendly and easy to navigate platform when looking to buy a product. It’s important to construct a well-organized catalog, with quality pictures, and an active customer service that is ready to solve any doubts. At the same time, a B2B e-commerce platform needs to provide the same level of customization as a traditional B2B business. This includes the implementation of flexible payment systems and a private login experience to allow clients to keep track of all transactions.

Examples of web-based B2B businesses vary widely and your marketing strategy will depend on the sector you are involved in. B2B business models for e-commerce companies go from dropshipping services to wholesaling and warehousing, to white labeling and the offering of subscription systems.

Setting up your B2B business model: let us help!

As we’ve seen in this article, downstream B2B companies have grown massively in recent years. With B2B e-commerce platforms taking up more and more market share, shifting to a digital business model appears like a worthy investment. Here at Mowgli we’ve been helping small and large enterprises structuring their B2B activities, developing powerful strategies to reach the audience their products deserve. Get in touch for a chat or head to our blog to learn more about digital marketing best practices.

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B2B Business Model and How it works

Businesses are evolving. Unlike the past decade where businesses operated on brick and mortar stores, virtualization is the new norm. You do not need to have a physical shop to drive sales. All you require is a digital store where customers can access your products and place orders. 

Despite all these changes, one thing remains constant. Every business needs a model that they use to achieve its objectives. As an entrepreneur, you must come up with a way of operating your venture. B2B or business-to-business is one of the model e-commerce businesses is to run their operations. If you do not know how this model works, you are on the right page.

In this article, we cover what B2B is as well as how it works and its pros and cons. Thus, keep reading on to learn more about this model.

What is B2B Business Model?

For many entrepreneurs, selling to consumers is their objective. You develop products that you offer to your consuming customers. However, this is not the only way to operate your business. B2B business model is where businesses sell to other businesses or simply called business to business. It is a situation where a business offers its products to another business instead of selling them directly to the consumers.

Here, businesses make products destined for use by other businesses. You sell what you make to another business that can either use it to generate other products or sell the same product to the final consumers. So, this model does not involve transactions between a business and consumers.

How Does B2B Work?

Typically, B2B business involves transactions between one company/business to another business. Your company makes products or services for consumption in another company. For instance, your company can be a supplier of raw materials to company B which produces a given product. Or else, you might be selling products to wholesalers and retailers in bulk for them to sell them to the consumers.

In this model, your targets are other businesses and not consumers. This means that you must reach out to other businesses and offer convincing reasons to consider your goods or services. Say for example you offer business solutions. You need to convince the business owners or decision makers why and how your solutions will enhance their operations.

In most cases, the B2B model involves the use of proposals and procurements. Businesses require suppliers and solution providers for proposals. The engagement is also on a long-term basis rather than a single purchase.

Example of B2B Business

B2B business model applies in every stage of the supply chain or value chain . When a manufacturer orders raw materials to make a product from another company, this relationship involves two businesses. Also, when you source products from a wholesaler or supplier to sell in your retail store, you are applying the B2B model. So, there are many examples of businesses applying this concept in their operations.

Apple is a good example of a company using the B2B concept. As you know, Apple is a renowned high-edge smartphone. In developing their iPhones, Apple sources chips from Samsung. Without Samsung, Apple can have challenges in manufacturing its iPhones. Also, Apple has other B2B connections with companies providing semiconductors and other materials for making smartphones such as Micron Technology and Intel.   

Pros and cons of B2B Business Model

B2B model allows many businesses to operate and succeed in both physical and virtual arena. However, it is not perfect and has both pros and cons. Here they are:

Long-term engagement leading to customer loyalty

B2B model operates on long-term engagement. Both businesses agree to supply raw material or products/solutions for a given duration. This aspect enhances customer loyalty as the two have a mutual agreement. As the supplier, you have consistent sales as long as you retain the quality and dependability of your product and services. This aspect is hard to achieve in other models.

Easy to predict revenue

Since you have a long-term engagement, you can easily predict your revenue. You can determine with certainty the amount of revenue you’ll generate in a given period. With this, you can easily make conscious decisions and business plans. So, this model makes your business more secure as you will have customers for your products at any given time.

Short selling cycle

No doubt, selling to consumers can be a long process. The process involves a number of intermediaries. When you consider selling to consumers directly, you need a lot of time to clear your inventory. As you know, the longer the selling cycle or duration, the more expensive it becomes. You need to invest a huge amount in promoting your products and service when dealing with final consumers.

Unlike the business-to-consumer approach, the B2B model comes with a short-selling cycle. You sell your products or service to specific customers. You do not need to spend a lot of time money on marketing what you are offering. So, the short-selling cycle saves you money and time. 

Limited customer pool

By concentrating on businesses as your customers, you reduce your pool. Having a small customer pool can affect your sales and expectations. The small target poses a lot of challenges to beginners in securing their first customers. For this reason, many B2B businesses do not last for long due to the hardship of driving sales.

Long decision-making period

Unlike selling to customers, dealing with businesses is a complex affair. Businesses have long decision-making processes that involve several parties. First, you need to send a proposal. The business can take several weeks or months to respond to your proposal and accept the deal. This approach can hurt your expectations especially when patience is not your virtue.

As an entrepreneur, you can consider using the B2B business model in your venture. The model will work effectively when what you offer is suitable for other businesses. Also, you can consider this concept if you want a short-selling cycle by selling your products in bulk to other businesses.

However, you need to be aware of the hurdles to expect in your operations. The businesses can take a longer duration to accept your proposal. Nonetheless, when your business gets some grips, you’ll enjoy massive sales and long-term relationships meaning consistent revenue generation.  

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B2B eCommerce Models for Online Marketplaces

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Led by the likes of Alibaba, the B2B industry is undergsoing a transformation. eCommerce brings multiple benefits to the table, and it was only a matter of time till businesses across industries started to favor online commerce over traditional sales channels.

Naturally, the sector offers a sea of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to start their B2B eCommerce business. That said, unlike B2C eCommerce, B2B is more complex, and there are multiple ways to cater to the requirements of businesses via eCommerce platforms. 

So even though Alibaba is one of the biggest names in the industry, it’s not the only way a B2B eCommerce platform works. This is where understanding B2B eCommerce business models can help you in identifying new opportunities in this domain. Let’s dive in.

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What is the difference between b2b ecommerce models, what are the different types of b2b ecommerce business models, multiple b2b e-commerce models means opportunities, to sum it up.

Let’s take a product like a fashion garment. The supply chain for this product has suppliers, fabricators, and others – involved during various stages of the product reaching the buyer. These businesses are spread across the globe. Consumption markets driving the demand are primarily Western countries led by the US. While fabrication sources are in Asian countries like China and Bangladesh. 

Here the entrepreneurs can have two options for structuring the B2B eCommerce model of their business: Either they can start an eCommerce marketplace that allows retailers or wholesalers in the US to source products from manufacturers in Asia, or they can start a marketplace that allows the buyers to float tenders for their requirement. Interested fabricators can connect and supply the required products. 

In the former eCommerce business model, the demand side is connected with the supply while it is vice versa for the latter case. These are just two examples in many other possible scenarios. Let’s discuss all below.

CATEGORY 1: Based on the Architecture of the Marketplace:

A B2B marketplace has three participants – Buyers, Sellers, and the admin. The architecture of the marketplace can vary depending on the roles that these three have on the platform. The following three are the possible B2B eCommerce models based on the architecture.

1. Supplier Oriented Model (eDistribution)

Supplier-Oriented B2B Marketplace Model

In a supplier-oriented model, several suppliers collaborate to set up an online B2B marketplace. The platform serves as an efficient channel for these suppliers to sell to a large number of businesses. They list their products or services and set up the operational infrastructure of the marketplace business. 

The buyers search through the sellers, and their offered products/services. Select a desired commodity and complete the transaction. In such a marketplace business, the operations are managed by an Admin assigned by the sellers. For an eDistribution to be successful, the loyalty of businesses and goodwill in the market is crucial.

Popular supplier-oriented B2B marketplace in the industry:

Cisco Connection Online is a B2B marketplace by Cisco. It invites partners as resellers or suppliers on the marketplace. It offers a wide range of products and services on the platform.

Start Your Own E-Commerce B2B Marketplace

2. buyer oriented model (eprocurement).

Buyer Oriented B2B e-commerce Marketplace Model

Also known as a “sourcing portal”, eProcurement is a B2B eCommerce model that facilitates buyers in posting their needs. These can be in the form of invitations for bids or proposals, tenders, or a fixed price range for the desired product or service. Once the quotes start to flow in, the buyer can carefully analyze the quotes and decide which seller to transact with.Since this B2B model in eCommerce marketplaces centers around the demands of individual buyers, it helps to bring down their administrative costs and also get the best price from the suppliers. This business model is plausible for either big corporations with greater purchasing power and high volume purchases or simply entrepreneurs considering to launch a B2B marketplace that emphasizes the buyers’ needs.

Popular eProcurement player in the industry:

GE’s electronic bidding site, known as GE TPN Post acts as a buyer-oriented marketplace. To use this site, the buyers need to pay a nominal fee. Post that they can share their project requirements on the website. Suppliers who can meet the requirements start making bids for the project. Once there are plenty of bids to choose from, buyers can go ahead and decide which one gives them the best bang for their buck.

3. Intermediary-Oriented Marketplace Model (eExchange)

Intermediary-Oriented B2B e-commerce Marketplace Model

An intermediary-oriented B2B eCommerce model allows sellers to sell their products and services to buyers on a platform managed by an intermediary. Apart from management, here the role of the intermediary is providing backend support for eCommerce operations. This can include shipping, accounting, technological infrastructure management, and others. For this, they earn revenue by way of commissions, subscription services, advertisements, and others.

Popular intermediary-oriented B2B marketplace in the industry:

Typical examples of intermediary-oriented B2B marketplaces are popular eCommerce marketplaces like Alibaba, eWorldtrade, and Amazon Business. However, the business model can be shaped in addition to the above-stated considerations. Let’s continue with the second category of B2B eCommerce models below.

CATEGORY 2: Based on the Service Industry: 

Let’s analyze how the B2B models in eCommerce can be shaped according to the industry the marketplace is built to serve.

1. Horizontal Marketplace Business Model

A horizontal B2B eCommerce business model will cater to a wide variety of products and services across industries. It has a wider scope for marketplaces, so has more potential to scale and drive in volumes. These volumes will further complete the cycle for the business to drive home its USP of greater value, more competition amongst sellers, a wide range of products, and so on. Alibaba is an example of a horizontal B2B marketplace.

2. Vertical Marketplace Business Model

A vertical B2B marketplace focuses on a specific industry. For instance, a B2B platform just for fashion products or one starts an eCommerce Pharmacy marketplace. By doing so, they narrow down their target audience making it relatively easier to purpose-driven marketing strategies, and offer the target audience a tailored value proposition. UNI Diamonds, Procurenet, and SupplyHog are examples of vertical B2B marketplaces.

CATEGORY 3: Based on the Commodities Offered: 

Since the turn of the century, manufacturers and distributors have realized the economics of venturing downstream of the value chain. Hence they identify more opportunities to drive revenue apart from their core business. In the third category, we focus on commodities being offered on the marketplace platform. 

1. Offering Products Exclusively

The first option is setting up a platform where just products are offered. Here the B2B marketplace can focus on connecting the demand with the supply of products. For instance, a fashion marketplace that connects manufacturers, distributors and other suppliers directly with retailers orwholesalers. This business model can be ideal if the services for the product  are either not required or are easily available via offline channels.

2. Offering Services with Products 

The second B2B eCommerce business model is when a business offers both services and products on its platform. For instance, Procurenet, a B2B Pharmacy marketplace offers both products in the form of medical equipment and services from Contract manufacturers in the domain. 

Just like the pharmacy industry, in many more industries, allied and after-sales services account for a larger revenue share. So, depending upon the operative niche of the marketplace, offering services alongside products can facilitate the sellers in offering added value to the buyers, and help in broadening the horizon for the business.

Build Service and Product Based Marketplace

3. networking marketplaces.

Consider the example of India-based B2B networking marketplace – IndiaMart: It simply acts as a digital middleman, connecting buyers and sellers.  After submitting an RFQ form for a product they are interested in, buyers get a list of sellers along with contact details. This implies that the buyers can contact the sellers outside of the marketplace if they so desire.

The reason behind the viability of this marketplace business model is the lack of offline marketing capabilities for B2B sellers. Such platforms enhance their visibility and help them to reach a wide audience. For the marketplace owners, subscription plans or/and listing fees are significant revenue streams. 

This marketplace business model is attracting legacy B2B sectors like finance, crowdfunding, real estate, and outsourcing.

Suggested Read: Top 5 B2B eCommerce Platforms to Build B2B Online Marketplaces

The digitization mandate is opening up opportunities in the online space, making digital sales channels both lucrative and imperative for businesses.

That said, the B2B space is distinct and laden with complexities. Purchase decisions are research and ROI-driven – with longer sales cycles and an emphasis on business relations between the buyer and the seller.Because of this, there are multiple examples wherein B2B space is transitioning with a fresh perspective by coalescing and evolving business models to align with the transformative shift in the industry. Thus, the future of B2B eCommerce is likely to be innovation-driven – both technologically and operatively.  To benefit from the rising opportunities, new B2B marketplace prospects will need the requisite versatile tools. This is where Yo!Kart B2B comes into the picture.

Explore Yo!Kart B2B Ecommerce Platform in Action

The B2B space is opening up for new opportunities. Entrepreneurs or enterprises can analyze the possible B2B eCommerce model variations mentioned in this blog and strategize their launch. 

Each model is designed to address some very specific needs of B2B businesses in the present times and the years to follow. For instance, the buyer-oriented model allows buyers to set up their own website, post their requirements, and initiate transactions.

On the other hand, in a supplier-oriented multi-vendor marketplace, the suppliers set up the website to establish an online sales channel. An intermediary-oriented marketplace model is set up by an intermediary connecting a large number of buyers and sellers. The owners of this model earn profit from successful transactions. 

So it’s clear that each B2B eCommerce marketplace model is designed with a purpose. Instead of wondering which B2B marketplace would reap the maximum profit, the question entrepreneurs need to consider is what type of role would best suit the identified industry.

For most popular B2B eCommerce models, the versatile Yo!Kart B2B can be an ideal solution to power your business idea.

Q.1 Are marketplace business models in B2B different from those in B2C?

Ans. Yes, the users in B2B domain vary distinctly from those in B2C. B2B marketplace platform connects businesses across the supply chain i.e. raw material suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, resellers, retailers, and more, while for B2C marketplaces its just end customers. This difference in target audience means that the users’ needs, interests, sales process, and other elements vary greatly. (For more information read this .) Hence marketplace business models vary for B2B than B2C. 

Q2. How to pick the best-fit B2B model in eCommerce? 

Response : Yes, B2B eCommerce varies distinctly from B2C. The users are unique, follow distinct sales processes, and have exclusive set of priorities. Hence one needs to build an eCommerce platform considering all B2B eCommerce idiosyncrasies.

Q3. Is there any readymade software available for B2B needs?

Response : Yes, there are readymade software available in the market to launch B2B marketplaces, although these vary among themselves with their own strengths and best uses. 

For instance, Yo!Kart B2B is a purpose-built solution to launch a B2B marketplace with key B2B features to drive success.

Readymade B2B e-commerce Software- Yo!Kart

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by Joseph Jones • August 2, 2023

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20 B2B Examples You Need to See

Last Updated: August 2023

You may see the term B2B or B2C from time to time. Those are acronyms used to categorize who businesses primarily sell to. B2C, or “business-to-consumer,” means a company that sells its products directly to consumers. When you purchase something from Amazon, for example, you are the consumer and either Amazon or an Amazon seller is the business. 

One significant type of business transaction is business-to-business (B2B), wherein businesses sell products, services, or information to other businesses rather than to individual consumers. B2B plays a crucial role in the global economy, facilitating trade and collaboration between enterprises and industries. Let’s explore what B2B is, and then take a look at some B2B examples by highlighting 20 of the best B2B companies.

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What is a b2b business, b2b examples in e-commerce.

B2B Examples Across Industries

  • Oracle Corporation
  • General Electric

Quick e-Com B2B Facts

Sourced from Zippia .

  • In 2022, U.S. B2B e-commerce revenue exceeded $2 trillion .
  • Nurtured B2B leads tend to generate larger purchases than non-nutured leads. 47% larger purchases were made by nurtured leads vs non-nutured.
  • Roughly 68% of B2B businesses haven’t identified their sales funnel.
  • Advertising spend for B2B companies in the U.S. amounted to over $22.14 billion in 2022.

Business-to-Business (B2B) commerce encompasses a broad spectrum of transactions, from raw materials procurement to finished product distribution and everything in between. An example of B2B would be as between a wholesaler and a retailer or as between a manufacturer and a wholesaler. Unlike Business-to-Consumer (B2C) transactions, B2B deals often involve larger order quantities and more complex negotiations.

B2B (business-to-business) e-commerce plays a pivotal role in the modern business landscape. If you run a B2B e-commerce company, you need to know the things that e-commerce has to offer the marketplace.

Here are some examples of B2B e-commerce key contributions to improved business transactions:

  • Enhanced Efficiency: B2B e-commerce streamlines the buying and selling processes, reducing the need for manual intervention. Automated online catalogs, real-time inventory updates, and electronic order processing lead to quicker transactions and fewer errors. This efficiency translates into time savings and improved productivity for both buyers and sellers.
  • Wider Market Reach: With B2B e-commerce, businesses can transcend geographical boundaries and access a global market. Companies can expand their customer base and connect with potential clients from different parts of the world, opening up new growth opportunities.
  • Cost Savings: B2B e-commerce eliminates the need for extensive physical infrastructure and traditional sales channels, resulting in significant cost savings for both buyers and sellers. Companies can reduce overhead costs associated with maintaining brick-and-mortar stores and sales teams.
  • Data-Driven Insights: B2B e-commerce platforms generate valuable data on customer behavior, purchasing patterns, and preferences. Analyzing this data empowers businesses with actionable insights to optimize marketing strategies, improve product offerings, and enhance customer experiences.
  • Efficient Inventory Management: B2B e-commerce integrates with inventory management systems, providing real-time visibility into stock levels and demand trends. This ensures that businesses can maintain optimal inventory levels, avoid stockouts, and reduce carrying costs.
  • Digital Marketing and Branding: B2B e-commerce enables businesses to leverage digital marketing techniques like SEO , content marketing, and social media to enhance their brand visibility and attract new customers. It allows even small companies to compete on a global stage based on the strength of their online presence.
  • Support for Complex Sales Processes: In B2B transactions, most decision-making involves multiple stakeholders. E-commerce platforms facilitate easy access to product information, quotes, and other relevant data, making it simpler for all involved parties to arrive at a consensus.

Overall, e-commerce B2B plays a vital role in how businesses conduct trade and interact with customers and partners. Its significance lies in empowering businesses to be more agile, competitive, and customer-focused in an increasingly digital and interconnected world. 

B2B Examples

1. salesforce.

A pioneer in cloud-based CRM software, Salesforce is a great example of a B2B company due to several key factors. First and foremost, its cloud-based CRM solutions revolutionized the way businesses manage customer relationships, sales, and marketing activities, providing scalable and flexible tools accessible to businesses of all sizes. Salesforce’s customer-centric approach is evident in its commitment to understanding and addressing the unique needs of its clients, fostering strong relationships, and providing excellent customer support. Salesforce’s success also stems from its ability to integrate with other business tools and technologies, offering a comprehensive ecosystem that enhances overall efficiency and productivity for its clients. Through these strategic initiatives, Salesforce has established itself as a leader in the B2B domain and continues to set industry standards for CRM solutions and customer-focused services.

Salesforce’s Annual Revenue

Often referred to as the “Amazon of the East,” Alibaba is a leading online B2B platform based in China. It connects millions of buyers and sellers worldwide, facilitating international trade across various industries. Alibaba is a successful B2B company due to its vast global reach and comprehensive platform that connects millions of suppliers with buyers worldwide. Its user-friendly interface, secure payment systems, and efficient logistics infrastructure have facilitated seamless international trade for businesses, offering them a wide range of products and services at competitive prices. Additionally, Alibaba’s continuous focus on innovation and strategic partnerships has further solidified its position as a leading B2B e-commerce platform in the rapidly expanding global market.

Alibaba’s Annual Revenue

3. Microsoft

Microsoft is a successful B2B company with a diverse portfolio of business solutions, including cloud services, productivity tools, and enterprise software. Its reliable and widely adopted products, such as Microsoft Office and Azure cloud platform, cater to the specific needs of businesses, boosting productivity and efficiency. Additionally, Microsoft’s strong reputation for security, extensive partner network, and commitment to continuous innovation have established it as a trusted and indispensable partner for businesses worldwide.

Microsoft’s Annual Revenue

As an inbound marketing and sales platform, HubSpot helps businesses attract, engage, and delight customers. Its all-in-one suite includes tools for content management, email marketing, and social media management. Its user-friendly interface, comprehensive analytics, and automation capabilities make it a valuable tool for businesses seeking to optimize their marketing and sales efforts. HubSpot’s commitment to educating and supporting its customers through a vast library of resources and a thriving community has fostered strong customer loyalty, contributing to its success in the B2B market.

HubSpot’s Annual Revenue

5. Oracle Corporation

Oracle Corporation has achieved remarkable success as a B2B company due to several key factors. Firstly, its extensive range of enterprise software solutions caters to various business needs, such as database management, cloud services, and enterprise applications. Secondly, Oracle’s strong focus on innovation and continuous development of cutting-edge technologies keeps it at the forefront of the industry, attracting businesses seeking advanced solutions. Lastly, its robust customer support, global reach, and strategic acquisitions have contributed to building strong relationships with enterprises worldwide, solidifying Oracle’s position as a leading B2B provider.

Oracle’s Annual Revenue

SAP’s success as a B2B company can be attributed to several key factors. Firstly, its comprehensive suite of business software solutions addresses diverse enterprise needs, including ERP, CRM, and supply chain management. Secondly, SAP’s emphasis on industry-specific solutions and scalability makes it a preferred choice for businesses of all sizes, from small companies to large enterprises. Lastly, its strong focus on customer relationships, continuous innovation, and global presence have established SAP as a trusted and reliable partner in the B2B market.

SAP’s Annual Revenue

As a global aerospace company, Boeing is a prominent B2B player, supplying commercial and military aircraft, satellites, and related services to governments and airlines worldwide. Boeing is successful in the B2B domain primarily due to its leadership in the aerospace industry and its ability to build strong relationships with other businesses. Its reputation for delivering high-quality, technologically advanced solutions, coupled with effective customer support and after-sales services, has contributed to its long-standing success as a B2B company. Additionally, Boeing’s extensive network of suppliers and partners further enhances its position in the B2B market, allowing it to cater to diverse customer needs and maintain its competitive edge.

Boeing’s Annual Revenue

8. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is successful as a B2B model due to its user-friendly email marketing platform, catering to businesses of all sizes. Its intuitive interface, automation features, and analytics capabilities empower businesses to create and manage effective email marketing campaigns. Mailchimp’s commitment to continuous innovation, seamless integrations with other business tools, and excellent customer support have helped it build a loyal customer base and establish itself as a leading B2B solution in the email marketing industry.

Mailchimp’s Annual Revenue

International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is a renowned B2B technology company, offering a diverse range of services, including cloud computing, AI solutions, and enterprise software. Additionally, IBM’s long-standing reputation for reliability, global reach, and strong customer relationships has positioned it as a trusted partner for businesses worldwide, contributing to its sustained success in the B2B market.

IBM’s Annual Revenue

Slack is a great B2B model due to its efficient and user-friendly collaboration platform. By offering a centralized space for team communication, file sharing, and integration with various business tools, Slack enhances productivity and streamlines communication within organizations. Its customizable features, scalability, and focus on real-time collaboration make it a valuable asset for businesses of all sizes, fostering seamless teamwork and efficient workflows.

Slack’s Annual Revenue

Asana is a great B2B model thanks to its comprehensive project management and productivity platform. Its highly customizable interface, versatile task management features, and integration with numerous third-party apps enable businesses to tailor the platform to their specific needs. Asana’s focus on collaboration, task automation, and real-time updates makes it a valuable tool for teams looking to streamline their workflows and improve overall efficiency.

Asana’s Annual Revenue

12. Airtable

Airtable is a great B2B model because of its flexible and user-friendly database management platform. With its intuitive interface, customizable workflows, and powerful collaboration features, AirTable empowers businesses to organize and track data efficiently across various projects and teams, making it an invaluable asset for streamlining processes and enhancing productivity.

Airtable’s Annual Revenue

Intel is successful as a B2B model due to its reputation as a leading semiconductor manufacturer and technology innovator. Its high-performance processors and chipsets cater to a wide range of industries, including computer manufacturers, data centers, and IoT devices. Intel’s consistent focus on research, development, and product advancements has solidified its position as a reliable partner for businesses seeking cutting-edge technology solutions, contributing to its ongoing success in the B2B market.

Intel’s Annual Revenue

14. General Electric (GE)

GE is a great B2B model with a diversified portfolio of industrial products and services. With offerings ranging from power generation and aviation to healthcare and renewable energy solutions, GE caters to various B2B sectors, making it a preferred choice for businesses seeking innovative and reliable industrial technologies. Its global presence, extensive expertise, and commitment to sustainability further contribute to its success as a trusted partner in the B2B market.

General Electric’s Annual Revenue

Adobe makes a good B2B model due to its suite of creative and digital marketing solutions. Its software products, including Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Experience Cloud, empower businesses to create engaging content, design captivating visuals, and optimize customer experiences. Adobe’s industry-leading tools, continuous innovation, and seamless integrations make it a valuable asset for businesses seeking to enhance their creative processes and digital marketing efforts, contributing to its success in the B2B market.

Adobe’s Annual Revenue

FedEx is a good model for B2B due to its extensive logistics network and reliable shipping services. Businesses can rely on FedEx’s efficient delivery solutions to transport their goods globally, ensuring timely and secure deliveries to their customers. With a strong emphasis on customer service, real-time tracking capabilities, and a range of shipping options, FedEx has established itself as a trusted partner for B2B companies looking to streamline their supply chain and meet their shipping needs.

FedEx’s Annual Revenue

Cisco is a good B2B model for several reasons. Firstly, its wide range of networking and communication solutions cater to businesses of all sizes, providing them with reliable and scalable infrastructure for their operations. Secondly, Cisco’s commitment to innovation and advancements in technologies like networking, cybersecurity, and cloud computing keeps it at the forefront of the industry, attracting businesses seeking cutting-edge solutions. Additionally, Cisco’s extensive global presence, strong partner ecosystem, and excellent customer support further contribute to its success as a trusted B2B provider.

Cisco’s Annual Revenue

18. Qualtrics

Qualtrics makes a good B2B model due to its powerful experience management platform. With its advanced survey and data analytics capabilities, Qualtrics empowers businesses to gather valuable customer and employee feedback, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and improve their products and services. Its user-friendly interface, real-time insights, and customizable features make it a valuable tool for businesses looking to enhance their customer experience and drive growth.

Qualtrics’ Annual Revenue

You might see Amazon as a B2C business at first, but truly, it’s focused on advertisers and businesses. Amazon is an excellent example of B2B e-commerce as a model due to its vast and diverse marketplace, providing businesses with access to a wide range of products and suppliers. With features like Amazon Business, businesses can streamline their procurement processes, access bulk pricing, and enjoy business-specific benefits, making it a convenient and cost-effective platform for B2B transactions. Additionally, Amazon’s efficient logistics and reliable delivery services ensure timely and convenient shipments, further contributing to its success as a trusted B2B provider.

Amazon’s Annual Revenue

Upwork makes a good B2B model due to its online freelancing platform, which connects businesses with skilled professionals from around the world. With a diverse pool of talent, businesses can find specialized expertise for their projects and scale their workforce as needed, offering flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Upwork’s user-friendly interface, secure payment system, and efficient project management tools make it a valuable platform for businesses seeking to outsource tasks and collaborate with freelancers seamlessly.

Upwork’s Annual Revenue

These B2B Examples Are Just the Start

Business-to-Business (B2B) transactions have become an integral part of the global economy, driving collaboration and trade between businesses and industries. The examples of B2B companies mentioned above exemplify the diversity and importance of this sector in powering businesses worldwide.

What have you done to make your B2B model work for your company? Let us know in the comments!

Joseph Jones

Joseph Jones

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