Grow your business with B2B ecommerce

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A beginner’s guide to reaching more customers by selling to other businesses.

Have you ever wondered where businesses get the tools and supplies that keep their operations humming? The answer is often sellers like you.

As more and more people and businesses are buying and selling stuff online, that includes businesses that sell to other businesses, which is called business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • What B2B ecommerce is
  • How it can help you reach more customers and boost your profits
  • How to get started selling to other businesses

What is B2B ecommerce?

B2B ecommerce is the online trading of goods and services between businesses. So instead of selling directly to consumers, B2B ecommerce is when businesses sell to other businesses through websites and online stores.

Types of B2B ecommerce and examples

B2B ecommerce types

There are several different types of B2B ecommerce, including:

  • Business-to-Business-to-Consumer (B2B2C): This is when two businesses team up to sell products or services to customers. One company might make the products while the other handles marketing and fulfillment to customers.
  • Wholesale: This is when one business, known as a wholesaler, sells products in bulk quantities and at discounted prices to another business. The business buying the wholesale products typically resells those products directly to customers at regular retail prices to make a profit.
  • Manufacturers: Manufacturers produce goods using raw materials, labor, and machines. They sell the products they make to other businesses, whether that’s wholesalers, retailers, or even other manufacturers.
  • Distributors: Distributors connect manufacturers of products with the businesses that want to buy and resell those products to their own customers.

B2B ecommerce examples

Various products for ecommerce sale

Here are some examples of companies using ecommerce to sell to other businesses:

  • An office supply store that lets companies create an account to easily reorder printer ink and paper online whenever they run low.
  • An industrial equipment maker that uses an ecommerce portal to let maintenance managers order replacement parts and schedule service appointments.
  • A furniture wholesaler that allows interior design firms to view their catalog, customize products, and place orders on their website.
  • A software company that automates its subscription renewals and license management for business clients through a self-service ecommerce site.
  • A commercial cleaning supply company that built an online store so hotels, gyms, and hospitals can quickly order cleaning products and track shipments.

The key to these examples is that these B2B companies are using ecommerce features like online catalogs, ordering, accounts, inventory management tools, and subscriptions to make it easy for their business customers to buy from them.

Benefits of B2B ecommerce

Infographic of B2B ecommerce benefits

If you already sell products to other businesses, B2B ecommerce can help you reach even more customers and make your sales process smoother.

If you already sell products and services online, but only to everyday shoppers, expanding from business-to-consumer (B2C) into B2B sales opens a whole new market for you.

Whatever your situation, B2B ecommerce offers benefits for sellers, like:

  • Reaching new business customers
  • Streamlining your sales and operations
  • Providing a convenient buying experience
  • Gaining insights to boost sales
  • Lowering your costs

Reach new business customers

From B2B to B2B ecommerce: When you sell B2B the traditional way, you’re limited to selling only to the businesses you can meet face-to-face or call on the phone. With B2B ecommerce, distant customers are just a few clicks away, and your pool of potential buyers increases through search engines, online stores, or social media.

From B2C to B2B ecommerce: If you already sell online to consumers, you’ve probably got the digital storefront and fulfillment processes in place. You can use these same processes to reach businesses who may benefit from your products for resale, as parts or materials for their own products, or for their employee or office use.

Did you know?
You can sell B2B with Amazon
Amazon Business provides a suite of features and tools that can help you expand your business and connect with business-to-business customers.

Streamline your sales and operations in 4 ways

B2B ecommerce not only helps you reach new customers, but it can make your sales operations smoother in these ways:

  1. Automate order processing: Customers can place orders themselves directly on your website, and the system automatically processes the order. No more taking orders over phone or email.
  2. Simplify inventory management: Selling online syncs your inventory in real time, so when a customer buys something, your stock levels update automatically. No more manually adjusting spreadsheets to manage inventory.
  3. Speed up invoicing and payments: Ecommerce automates the billing process. Customers can pay online and invoices get generated and sent out for you. Integrating with accounting software can make things even easier.
  4. Provide customers self-service: Giving B2B buyers online access lets them do more on their own. They can check order status, get quotes, reorder, and find information they need without calling you.

Provide a convenient buying experience

A woman with a credit card shopping on her phone

Like you, business buyers are busy professionals who value efficiency. Also like you, they benefit from the self-service purchasing experience a B2B ecommerce store provides.

With an online B2B store, customers can easily:

  • Search for and find exactly what they need quickly
  • View key product details like specs, pricing, and availability
  • Place orders 24/7 at their convenience, not just during business hours
  • Reorder with a single click or set up subscriptions so products arrive regularly, without any action needed from them
  • Track order status, access invoices, and manage their account independently

In other words, B2B ecommerce puts the power in the hands of business customers. Businesses can get what they need when they need it, without hassle or waiting.

But B2B purchasing isn’t quite the same as consumer shopping. That’s why many ecommerce solutions offer specialized B2B features like:

  • Custom catalogs and pricing for different business accounts
  • Bulk order discounts and minimum quantities
  • Approval workflows for large purchases
  • Payment on credit terms or by invoice
  • Procurement system integration

By tailoring the online experience to your customer’s needs, you provide a level of convenience they simply can’t get through traditional sales channels. And that frictionless purchasing process keeps them coming back again and again.

Gain insights to boost sales

A man looking at Amazon Best Sellers list on his laptop

When you sell B2B online, you get access to a goldmine of data that can help you make smarter business decisions and boost your sales. For example:

  • See what’s selling and understand customer behavior: Get real-time data on your top-selling products, what customers are searching for, which pages they visit, and when they make purchases. This helps you optimize your inventory, site design, and overall shopping experience to delight customers.
  • Identify trends and growth opportunities: Analyze your ecommerce data over time to spot popular product trends, growing categories, and areas for improvement. You can also see what specific customers or companies are interested in based on their browsing and buying patterns. Use these insights to expand your catalog with in-demand products and tailor marketing campaigns for different customer segments.
  • Improve marketing strategies: With data on your top-performing products, pages, and campaigns, you can refine your marketing efforts to be more targeted and cost-effective. Easily see which content and channels are driving the most sales and giving you the best return on investment.

Lower your costs

When you move your B2B sales online, you can lower your costs in many ways, which include:

  • Save time and money processing orders: Because customers place orders themselves on your website and they process automatically, you don’t have to manually enter orders from phone or email.
  • Reduce errors and costly returns: When customers enter their own orders online, it cuts down on mistakes that can happen with manual order entry. Fewer errors mean fewer costly returns and exchanges.
  • Spend less time on routine tasks: A B2B ecommerce site lets customers do a lot on their own—check order status, get invoices, make payments, reorder, and more—and find answers to common questions in your help center. This means your team spends less time on routine customer service tasks.
  • Cut printing and mailing costs: With online catalogs and ordering, you can reduce what you spend on printing and mailing paper catalogs, order forms, invoices and other documents.
  • Reduce stockouts, overstock, and warehousing costs: Ecommerce gives you real-time visibility into stock levels and helps automate inventory tracking, so you’re less likely to run out of popular items or overstock slow-moving ones.
  • Save on labor costs: Letting customers order online frees up your sales reps to focus on higher-value activities like landing new accounts and upselling existing ones. Ecommerce also shortens the sales cycle since buyers can purchase anytime on their own.
Amazon Business provided us with a unique opportunity to tap into a vast network of business customers.
Joel Mendlowits
Head of Marketplace, Adorama

3 steps to get started with B2B ecommerce

Infographic with 3 steps to get started

Ready to join the world of B2B ecommerce? Here’s how to get started:

Step 1. Determine your B2B ecommerce strategy

To figure out your strategy, you’ll want to do two key things:

  1. Know who your business customers are: Get clear on what types of companies you want to sell to online. What industries are they in? How big are they? What do they typically order? Understanding your audience will help you tailor your ecommerce approach.
  2. Decide how you want to sell: There are a couple ways to do B2B ecommerce. You can sell directly to business customers through your own website or online store, you can sell through an existing B2B store, or you can do both. Weigh the pros and cons of each option for your unique products and customers.

Step 2. Set up your B2B ecommerce website or online store

Here’s a simple guide to set up your B2B ecommerce website or online store:

  • Choose your B2B ecommerce portal: Pick a solution that will power your online store. Look for one that has features specifically for B2B, like custom pricing, bulk discounts, and invoice payments.
  • Get your products ready to sell online: Organize all the info and images for each product you want to sell. Write clear descriptions, snap high-quality photos, and make sure you have details like pricing and inventory counts ready to go.
  • Design your website: Customize the look and feel of your online store. Choose a theme or layout that matches your brand. Add your logo, pick your colors and fonts, and organize your products into categories.
  • Set up payments, shipping, and taxes: To start taking orders, hook up a payment processor so you can accept credit cards and other payment methods. You’ll also need to input your shipping options and costs, as well as any sales tax you need to charge.
  • Test and launch your site: Before opening your virtual doors to customers, place a few test orders to make sure everything is working smoothly. Click through your site like a customer would and ensure the checkout process is error-free. Then launch and start promoting your new online store.

As you get started, the key is to take it one step at a time. Use the tools and resources from your ecommerce solution—and don’t be afraid to experiment and adjust as you go.

Did you know?
Optimize your product listings for B2B
Include detailed product information and specifications in your product listings. Also offer bulk pricing and quantity discounts to appeal to business customers.

Step 3. Promote your B2B ecommerce offerings

Once you’ve got your B2B ecommerce website or online store set up, it’s time to start spreading the word by developing a marketing strategy.

Here are some tips for promoting your B2B products online:

  • Remember your audience: Make sure you understand who your ideal B2B customers are. What industries are they in? What are their pain points and goals? Knowing your audience will help you craft marketing messages that grab their attention.
  • Optimize for search engines: Help businesses find you when they search online. Use relevant keywords in your product descriptions, blog posts, and across your website. The better optimized your site is for search, the more B2B traffic you’ll attract.
  • Attract and engage potential customers: Sharing helpful tips related to your customer’s industry or customer stories through social media can be a powerful way to attract new customers.
  • Use email marketing: Build an email list of business contacts and send targeted campaigns. You can highlight new products, share helpful content, and offer special deals via email. Just ensure your emails are personalized and provide value.
  • Offer incentives and deals: Sweeten the deal for first-time B2B buyers with special offers like bulk discounts, free shipping over a certain amount, or a percentage off their first order. Limited-time deals create a sense of urgency.
  • Tap into paid advertising: Invest in paid ads on search engines, social media, or relevant industry websites to boost your reach. You can target your ads to the right business demographics and drive them to optimized landing pages.

Simplify B2B ecommerce with Amazon Business

Amazon Business is Amazon’s dedicated online store for companies to buy the products and supplies they need. It’s like the Amazon store you know, but built specifically for business purchasing.

By selling with Amazon Business, you can reach new business customers with customized prices, bulk selection, certifications, and other B2B features. Amazon Business customers tend to buy in larger quantities and return items less—which means you can sell more with less time and effort.

With Amazon Business, we’re able to drive incredible growth opportunities and profitability because we don’t have to fight for new customers—and the increased loyalty drives down the overall cost of customer acquisition.
Matt Snyder
Director of business development, Vari

Amazon Business benefits and features

Amazon Business gives you access to a suite of features and tools to help meet the unique needs of business customers. Available to all Professional sellers, the program includes the following:

  • Use multiple tools to set and automate B2B pricing—and to synchronize it with the prices you set for retail customers.
  • Use certifications and a business profile to help your products stand out to procurement professionals and other B2B customers.
  • Try tools that can help you respond to customer quote requests, sell items in bulk, and discover B2B products like the B2B Product Opportunities tool.
  • Take advantage of insights and capabilities to help improve the delivery experience for B2B customers. For example, you can tailor delivery for customers who expect deliveries during business hours.

Amazon Business also supports purchase orders, invoice payments, and tax exemption to align with typical B2B purchasing processes.

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Watch
Introduction to Amazon Business (B2B) program
Get an overview of the features and options available as part of the Amazon Business selling program.

Boost B2B ecommerce sales with Business Prime

Business Prime is a membership program by Amazon made for business customers and sellers. As a seller, being part of Business Prime can help boost your sales.

Here’s how it works:

  • Get in front of high-value business buyers by listing your products as eligible for Business Prime. Business Prime members tend to be bigger spenders and often place larger, more frequent orders compared to individual shoppers.
  • Give Business Prime customers more confidence to purchase from you with the Prime badge and fast, free shipping that comes with it.
  • Access special tools and data to market to Business Prime members. Create custom pricing, product bundles, and bulk discounts for the Business Prime audience. Also get insights into their purchasing behavior to optimize your offerings.
If somebody asked me about getting Amazon Business Prime, I would tell them it’s a necessity. There’s no reason not to have it on your account.
Matt LaForest
Director of IT, Jukin Media

Unlock B2B ecommerce with Amazon
From reaching new customers across the globe to streamlining operations and cutting costs, selling online to other companies opens a world of opportunity.

Amazon has specialized tools and features to help you tap into a world of business customers who are ready to shop online for what you offer.

Mickey Toogood
Mickey Toogood
Mickey Toogood is a Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Amazon. He’s passionate about connecting sellers with ecommerce opportunities. He also loves books, travel, and music.