What is B2B eCommerce?

B2B Resources:
Benefits of B2B
B2B eCommerce Trends
B2B Integration Levels
B2B Standards
B2B Standards & RFID
EDI Companies
EDI Document Types
EDI History
EDI Via Internet or VAN
Implementation Checklist
Synchronizing B2B Data
Trading Partner Types

The short definition of Business-to-Business (B2B) eCommerce is “the electronic exchange of business documents between businesses for the purpose of conducting commerce”. This B2B information exchange is a system-to-system exchange of data with little or no manual intervention.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Business Documents. There are thousands of different types of business documents that can be exchanged between businesses electronically. EDI / EDIFACT are the most common standard for defining document format standards for exchanging electronic documents. Common electronic business documents include purchase orders, shipment notification, shipment status, invoices, catalog information, and so on. Find out more about EDI Document Types and Standards.

Alternatives to B2B eCommerce? Now-a-days there is not really an alternative to B2B eCommerce. If businesses do not use B2B eCommerce to exchange business documents, then they would have to use paper, fax, e-mail, or phone calls to exchange business information. These methods are increasingly too time-consuming and too slow in today’s business climate. Still many businesses do not go forward with B2B eCommerce because B2B eCommerce is a fuzzy technology.

Where Does Your Business Fit in B2B eCommerce? Almost all businesses can benefit or are involved in B2B eCommerce. If you are a small business, your B2B eCommerce needs may be minimum. If you are a medium or large business, your B2B eCommerce needs can be varied. Your B2B eCommerce needs are dependent on your industry and what type of trading partner relationships you have with your business customers and suppliers. See posting on B2B Integration and Collaboration to see where your business fits in B2B eCommerce.

B2B eCommerce – Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why.

Below are the who, what, when, where, how, and whys behind B2B eCommerce.


Who Conducts B2B eCommerce? Who Can Help?

Trading partners within supply chain networks are the primary participants in B2B eCommerce. In most modern supply chains, trading partners will exchange electronic documents in support of the purchase, movement, and payment of goods and services. Read, Supply Chain Trading Partners Defined, for more about trading partners, third-party logistics providers (3PL), third-party eCommerce technology providers, and supply chain networks.


What is a B2B eCommerce Interface?

There are two different aspects to the B2B eCommerce Interface. There is the data standard that is used to format the data in the electronic document, and there is the communications method or protocol to transfer the data using data communications. For details on what comprises a B2B eCommerce interface, see posting B2B – Confusion Over Data Formats and Protocols.


When did B2B eCommerce and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) get started?

The history of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) started in the 1960’s when computer systems first had the capability to transfer data between other computer systems. The progressive history of EDI has centered primarily on the evolution of data format standards for exchanging electronic business documents. On occasions advances in data communications and data protocols have dominated the history of EDI. See posting, Concise Timeline and History of EDI, for more on the key events that have shaped EDI and B2B eCommerce.


Where Can Businesses Best Leverage B2B and EDI Technologies?

Business-To-Business (B2B) eCommerce and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) technologies “creates an environment for an effective and efficient global economy”. B2B technologies allow for the rapid and economic transmission of business documents. Any business that does not effectively leverage B2B technologies will likely perish in the long run in a global economy. The exchange of paper documents such as purchase orders and invoices are increasingly becoming a non-economical practice. See posting, Examples of Where Businesses Can Best Leverage B2B and EDI Technologies. Examples include: Supplier eInvoicing, VANs Versus Direct Connection, Supply Chain Transparency, Synchronize Data Streams, and Business Collaboration and B2B Integration.


How is B2B eCommerce Implemented? How to Select a Third-Party EDI Company?

If you have never implemented a B2B eCommerce solution, below is a simple checklist on how a B2B eCommerce relationship is setup.

  • Establish Need. What is the business value of exchanging electronic documents
  • Agree Upon A Solution. type data, formats, communications, frequency
  • Jointly Implement Plan. takes two to implement
  • Test Interface. both parties need to test and approve interface
  • Implement. both parties need to agree to implement

See posting on B2B eCommerce Implementation Checklist for more details on how to implement a B2B eCommerce interface between two businesses. If you need help, see posting on Selecting an EDI Company to determine what 3rd party B2B eCommerce technology company can help to include VANs, B2B portals, EDI software companies, EDI service providers, and B2B integration companies.


Why would a business want to conduct B2B eCommerce?

Businesses have many reasons to conduct B2B eCommerce. B2B eCommerce can be used for contract manufacturing, customs declarations, forecasting and demand management, global trade compliance, hazardous material handling, order and inventory management, and supply-chain logistics. Benefits and reasons to conduct B2B eCommerce include:

  • Eliminate Manual Processing.
  • Reduce B2B Processing Cycles. Improve Cash Flow.
  • Eliminate Dual-Data Entry.
  • Improve Data Quality.
  • Improve Demand and Supply Forecasting.
  • Manage Complex Logistics Operations. Product Order Matching and Visibility | B2B Data Synchronization
  • Improve Communications Between Business Partners.
  • Better Manage Contract Manufacturing Activities.
  • Secure Data Movement.

See posting on Reasons for B2B eCommerce for more details on the benefits of B2B eCommerce.

  • Abidhusiness269

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  • Emilio McCullen

    Amazing article, I'll be sure to share this article as well. Thanks.


  • Electronic commerce is generally considered to be the sales
    aspect of e-business. It also consists of the exchange of data to facilitate
    the financing and payment aspects of business transactions.

  • E-commerce is different types of businesses like purchasing and selling products, exchanging products and services on internet or World Wide Web. Basically e-commerce divided into four categories like B2B, B2C, C2B, and C2C. B2B e-commerce means business to business e-commerce in which manufactures
    selling to distributors and wholesalers selling to retailers.

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