B2B (business-to-business)

Contributor(s): Paula Jones

On the Internet, B2B (business-to-business), also known as e-biz, is the exchange of products, services or information (aka e-commerce) between businesses, rather than between businesses and consumers.

Although early interest centered on the growth of retailing on the Internet (sometimes called e-tailing), forecasts have predicted that B2B revenue will soon far exceed business-to-consumers (B2C) revenue.

B2B websites can be sorted into the following categories:

  • Company websites. The target audience of many company sites is other companies and their employees. These sites can be thought of as round-the-clock mini-trade exhibits. Sometimes, a company website serves as the entrance to an exclusive extranet, available only to customers or registered site users. Some company sites sell directly from the site, effectively e-tailing to other businesses.
  • Product supply and procurement exchanges. These are exchanges in which a company purchasing agent can shop for supplies from vendors, request proposals and, in some cases, bid to make a purchase at a desired price. Sometimes referred to as e-procurement sites, some serve a range of industries, while others focus on a niche market.
  • Specialized or vertical industry portals. These portals provide a "sub-web" of information, product listings, discussion groups and other features. Vertical portal sites have a broader purpose than procurement sites (although they may also support buying and selling).
  • Brokering sites. These sites act as an intermediary between providers and potential customers that need their specific services, such as equipment leasing.
  • Information sites. Sometimes known as infomediaries, these sites provide information about a particular industry to its companies and their employees. Information sites include specialized search sites and those of trade-and-industry-standards organizations.

Many B2B sites fall into more than one of these groups. Models for B2B sites are still evolving.

Another type of B2B enterprise is software for building B2B websites, including site-building tools and templates, database and methodologies, as well as transaction software.


This was last updated in June 2014

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