What is B2B or business-to-business? Definition and examples

B2B, which stands for business-to-business, is a way of doing commerce, specifically companies doing business with other companies. It refers to the exchange of products or services among companies. We can use this term to describe both traditional and online commerce. However, we more commonly use it for e-commerce.

E-commerce is a business model that focuses on doing business online, i.e., on the Internet. ‘E-commerce’ stands for ‘electronic commerce.’

The National Association of Sales Professionals has the following definition of the term:

“B2B is short for business-to-business. It refers to companies – or salespeople – who sell products chiefly to other businesses, rather than selling them to consumers.”

“B2B sales are often more complex than B2C (business to consumer) sales.”

It is important to remember that in its short form – B2B – the number ‘2‘ represents the word ‘to‘ in ‘business-to-business.’ Therefore, when you write the long form, don’t write it as ‘business-two-business.’ That is wrong!

B2B takes longer

When a company focuses on a B2B model, their marketing targets other companies. Therefore, the sales process may be longer and more intricate than a business-to-consumer model, i.e., B2C model.

It also takes much longer than in a C2C model. C2C stands for consumer-to-consumer.

To get a sale, the seller must usually deal with multiple departments within the target company.


Some companies sell both B2B and B2C, i.e., business-to-business and business-to-consumer. In this image, Avis is a car rental company, a business customer. The woman who just bought a car, on the other hand, is an individual consumer.

Decision-making process

The decision-making process is often more complicated when companies purchase something. Perhaps the idea to buy goes first, for example, from the sales agent to the sales manager.

The sales manager may subsequently have to get the OK from the financial or legal department. Perhaps one of the directors also has to sign if it is a large order.

Unlike other business models, such as B2C, i.e., business-to-consumer, in B2B, companies are often selling raw materials.

The seller may also be selling services or parts that the customers needs from manufacturers.

For example, a car manufacturer will depend on a parts company to complete the assembly of a car. It may also need to purchase the software to automatize the assembly process.

B2B e-commerce

B2B e-commerce has been increasing ever since the advent of the internet.

More companies are taking their business to online platforms. They are partly doing so because of the benefits and also because they have no choice.

E-commerce is no longer an option for most businesses; it is now a basic requirement if they want to survive.

B2B categories

The top categories of B2B commerce are:

Web development

More and more companies have decided to migrate to the digital world. Subsequently, more companies are looking for other businesses that specialize in web development, web design, SEO, and even AI-driven content personalization.

They are also looking for businesses that specialize in site building software and databases.

Supply and procurement exchanges

Companies pay to have access to a site or portal that has information on different supplies.

They also pay to have access to price listings, forums about a specific industry, and other features.

It’s now becoming more common for companies to use blockchain-backed supply chains to ensure transparency, security, and efficiency.

Cloud Services & Infrastructure

Modern B2B commerce heavily relies on cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, which offer scalable solutions and heightened cybersecurity.


These are sites that gather and provide specialized data on certain industries or commerce to companies.

Usually, this type of company acts as an intermediary between companies that provide the information and companies that get it.

A company can focus on just one model, or it can mix its strategy, i.e., B2C, B2G, etc. It all depends on the needs of the market and what it is selling. B2G means business-togovernment.

B2B example

One example of a business that focuses on the B2B model is International Business Machines Corporation or IBM. The technology multinational giant offers a range of services to companies, such as cloud computing for enterprises.

With cloud computing, remote computers rather than the user’s hard drive store files and other data.

Organizations can add this service to their internal structure. They then have data available for their employees in real time 24/7.

IBM can also create an extranet service that the customer can access at all times.

It’s important to note that while IBM remains a stalwart in the B2B segment, there are also many other businesses, such as Salesforce with its CRM solutions or AWS with its range of cloud services.

Video – B2B Marketing Strategies

In the video embedded below, Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder of the restaurant reservation software company Resy, shares some leading B2B marketing strategies:

B2B Marketing in the Age of AI & Automation

AI and automation have become increasingly important for B2B marketers. There are many ways that businesses can now leverage toolkits to create better marketing campaigns.

How do AI toolkits offer create better campaigns?

Put simply, we want our marketing campaigns to identify prospects who are worth our time and effort; those most likely to buy something. Modern AI toolkits can pinpoint prospects who are the most likely to buy through the use of predictive analysis, intent analysis, and lead scoring.

Businesses that adapt and make use of these advanced tools can gain a significant competitive edge – as long as the tools are properly used.