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.
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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.
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