Skip to content

A complete guide to B2B ecommerce

Written by

Last editedNov 20222 min read

In the past decade, B2B ecommerce sales have grown exponentially as many companies have started taking inspiration from the B2C playbook and focusing on overall user experience. The modern B2B retailer knows that a business buyer is still a consumer, and consumers appreciate all the conveniences and design flairs that ‘civilian’ consumers enjoy. This is particularly true in the digital space, where B2B is increasingly headed.

By 2023, Forrester predicts that B2B ecommerce will make up 17% of all B2B sales1, which would value the market at just a shade under $2 trillion. Historically speaking, of course, B2B businesses have fallen behind their B2C compatriots when it comes to online adoption. But the pandemic catalysed a significant sea change and arrived at a time when more digital-native millennials were entering the space.

Frankly, the days of cold calling and paper are long behind us, and that’s not something we should be mourning. The B2B world is innovating and evolving parallel to the B2C world for the first time, but the fundamentals remain. So, how does B2B ecommerce differ from B2C, what should you be doing to ensure success within the sector and what is the overall benefit of B2B ecommerce? These are all questions we’ll be answering in this complete guide.

What is B2B ecommerce?

B2B ecommerce refers to any online sale made between one business and another through a digital portal. These were the kind of sales that were traditionally made either over the phone or through email, but digital B2B ecommerce platforms allow businesses to make purchases now with increased efficiency and reduced overhead costs.

What’s the difference between B2C and B2B ecommerce?

While both share many core similarities and both involve the basic process of selling goods and services through a digital portal, there are several key differences between B2C and B2B ecommerce.

Pricing and quantity

While B2C prices are generally set in stone, B2B prices are often negotiable. B2C purchases are also generally made in much smaller quantities than B2B purchases.


Whereas B2C purchases are usually either one-time or impulse buys, B2B purchases are more likely to be scheduled further in advance on a regular basis and be longer-term, recurring orders.


B2C purchasing decisions are typically made by one or two people, but businesses might have entire purchasing departments and several layers of authority that need to be passed before the final decision is made.


B2C customers often value expediency over all other factors, whereas B2B buyers are more concerned with consistency. Payments are also generally made before goods are shipped with B2C customers, but B2B customers might have negotiated different payment terms.

B2B ecommerce growth

B2B ecommerce is growing exponentially because business buyers have finally realised how much more convenient it is. Not only can they make orders at any time from wherever they are, but the overhead costs are reduced significantly as no sales representatives are required to facilitate orders. With millennials and Gen Z now becoming a larger part of the workforce, it’s also natural that their affinity for online purchasing would eventually make its way into the sector.

Making the most of B2B ecommerce

Now that it’s undeniably here to stay, how can you give yourself the best chance for success with a B2B ecommerce solution?


Purchasing platforms should be easy to access and even easier to use as negative experiences are bound to inhibit repeat purchases. Invest in your user experience and you’ll soon see the returns. This also means investing heavily in making your site faster and more mobile-friendly as mobile traffic takes up over 70% of B2B-related searches, and that number will only increase in the coming months and years.


Regardless of the software you’re using, it’s imperative that if you intend to make a success out of B2B ecommerce, you must invest in your IT infrastructure.

Payment solutions

Make it easier for businesses to pay and make repeat payments and they are more likely to become regular clients. GoCardless allows businesses to collect payment directly from company bank accounts and acts as a secure and reliable payment gateway that allows seamless collection of funds.

We can help

GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team has to deal with. Find out today how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

Get StartedLearn More
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Contact sales

Try a better way to collect payments, with GoCardless. It's free to get started.

Try a better way to collect payments

Learn moreSign up