While B2C ecommerce gets the most media attention, B2B ecommerce is the bigger revenue generator, both globally and in the United States. The entry of ecommerce giants such as Alibaba and Amazon into B2B has accelerated the trend of B2B websites becoming more like B2C. Online B2B sellers now recognize that the customer experience in a B2B environment is just as important as the customer experience for B2C.
Globally, by 2020 the B2B ecommerce market will be twice as large as the B2C market — $6.7 trillion vs. $3.2 trillion — according to research provider Frost & Sullivan. The company predicts that China will emerge as the largest online B2B market with $2.1 trillion in sales by 2020.
Different B2B business models exist and the best choice depends on the size and complexity of a B2B company and its available expertise.
· One-to-many. In a direct model, companies have their own B2B online store, where customers can purchase goods. Industrial supplier Grainger, one of the first catalog companies to move online, uses this straightforward model. In a private consortium, model companies create their own network that includes suppliers, distributors, retailers, and shippers. Only companies with substantial purchasing clout and a sophisticated supply chain infrastructure can make this work. Walmart Retail Link is an example of a private consortium.
· The many-to-many model involves companies joining an extensive online B2B marketplace. This can be a private marketplace in which several companies choose to form a closed network, or a public marketplace model, which is open to all suppliers (some criteria for joining may exist) and is usually administered by a third-party with a recognized name and marketing and logistics expertise. Amazon Supply and Alibaba are examples of public marketplaces.
· Personalization and customization;
· Interactive catalogs;
· Customer reviews;
· Real-time inventory availability.