Top B2B ecommerce sites and companies

Updated: August 05, 2020 | Ilse Lauwens, Marketing Director

Do you need an outstanding B2B ecommerce platform?

With the advancement of the Internet, information technologies, digital systems and standards of their interaction, the new way of doing business has evolved.

E-business is a unique form of doing business executed by implementing information technologies in producing, trading, and distributing goods and services. It is becoming more and more popular for companies to go online in all business areas, including B2B commerce. When we mention B2B, the first thing that comes to mind is ecommerce systems – software and websites, which become tools for purchasing products and goods for businesses over the Internet.

Nowadays, B2B ecommerce sites continue to gain in popularity. Using B2B ecommerce sites is becoming more favorable for B2B ecommerce companies that do not want to deal with expensive and complicated EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) data exchange systems. The most important thing for them is to connect with small suppliers. When using B2B ecommerce sites, small businesses have a chance to compete with larger companies. B2B ecommerce platforms are valued for their usability and include various solutions for both suppliers and customers.

There has been a drastic shift in ecommerce from B2C (business-to-consumer) to B2B. B2B ecommerce sites are more complex and contain way more features than B2C. In this article, we would like to present you the top B2B ecommerce sites.

Top B2B challenges and solutions

B2B ecommerce has specific business model and process challenges that require customized solutions or aspecial software platform. In this white paper we will provide the top challenges that B2B ecommerce websites face and their best solutions.

The focus of top B2B ecommerce sites

While compiling this list, we focused on several features, that every B2B ecommerce company and portal should have.

  1. Complex pricing options. B2B ecommerce companies often offer different prices for different business partners.
  2. Flexible checkout process and delivery. The checkout process should always match your company’s regulations for payment and shipping.
  3. Navigation and search. User experience is critical in evaluating the quality of an ecommerce website. Every buyer has to be able to easily find what he needs and place the order as quickly as possible. It is also crucial for every B2B ecommerce platform vendor to have a relevant and high-quality site search.
  4. Customer registration. B2B sites usually require mandatory registration to provide their clients with custom products, special prices, and deals.
  5. Mobile commerce and e-mail marketing newsletter. The website must be accessible to mobile users and interact with its buyers daily.
  6. Certified ecommerce trust marks that prove the reliability of the website when it comes to purchasing goods and services.

Top 10 revolutionary B2B ecommerce sites and portals

Using our personal experience and the e-consultancy blog reviews, we have compiled a list of top 10 B2B ecommerce sites, who inspire and have truly been revolutionary and innovative.

ALIBABA

This ecommerce company based in China, launched in 1999. It is currently the world’s largest global ecommerce platform for small businesses. More than 18 million buyers and sellers from around 240 countries and regions use this platform. It showcases a great variety of products in more than 40 industry categories ranging from raw materials to finished goods. Alibaba Group does not sell products and services directly. Instead, it offers a platform that connects B2B sellers and buyers from around the world. The big advantage of Alibaba is that it is free to join, as it makes most of its profits via commissions and advertising. Being a seller, you can display up to 50 products/services free of charge and with the Gold membership, you get a mini-website to display an unlimited amount of goods or services. As a buyer, the only thing you need to do is “Request a Quote” and let sellers come to you. We consider Alibaba to be the go-to English-language platform for cross-border trade and expansion into overseas markets.

WWW.MADE-IN-CHINA.COM

This platform is highly appreciated for its top-notch security protocols. It is also reliable in providing sufficient data about your website that will help in content marketing and in SEO optimization. The platform is open for discussion and has its own forums where people help each other in the laborious process of setting up a web store.

The service is flexible and gives you the right amount of freedom, while still handling all the hard parts of running an online shop. This can be seen as a perfect and inexpensive solution for all of your ecommerce needs that can be adapted to any web-hosting.

THOMASNET.COM

ThomasNet’s history goes back more than a century, and still, nowadays, it connects manufacturing and industrial buyers and sellers. It is the leading online platform for B2B vendor search and product sourcing and is visited by more than 1.9 million customers each month. ThomasNet attracts many of engineers, facility managers and purchasing agents from around the world. The platform is entirely free. It makes it simple to find a supplier thanks to its semantic product search technology with informative company profiles. This marketplace promotes more than 650,000 distributors, manufacturers and service companies within 67,000 industrial categories. The only downside of ThomasNet is that unlike Alibaba, it does not allow a buyer to publish a general “Request for Quote.”

TRADEKEY.COM

Trade Key is Australia’s answer to the rest of the world and the major player of the top 10 B2B ecommerce platform vendors. Having 158,000 members, it is the most popular B2B marketplace in Australia! Despite not being a large marketplace, it can easily offer any product within 38 selected categories. The website’s design is very simple and a bit old-fashioned, but it reveals a huge variety of products right in front of your eyes. The strengths of this site are the absence of a Sign-Up fee, as well as the presence of relevant trade shows and brochures.

WWW.MSCDIRECT.COM

This industrial supply website is dedicated to quick ordering and reordering of industrial services and products. It is currently the largest digital marketer and distributor of “MRO” (Maintenance, Repair, and Operations) supplies. It should be noted that MSC is one of the most significant sales forces, distributing over 500,000 industrial products from over 2,000 suppliers to over 500,000 customers. The company should be credited for the tremendous amount of effort it has put into improving the customer experience and optimizing its website. The search function is great - it allows you to find items by their serial numbers and implements visual catalogs.

GRAINGER.COM

Just like MSC Industrial Supply Co., Grainger is one of the market’s leading B2B industrial suppliers. A mobile app makes purchasing easy and convenient for the customers by reducing the time for re-orders of the same product. There is an option to just scan the product’s barcode or get help from the customer service team. The great filtering options in the search feed allow you to see only the items you have previously purchased. Another nice feature is the estimated arrival time of the product.

QUILL.COM

Quill.com, owned by Staples, is the largest office supplier, purposefully created for B2B ecommerce. The company’s website is prominent for its user-friendly interface, a wide variety of educational and office supplies, offering many great customer-benefit coupons, special deals, and rewards. Businesses of all sizes value the site for the variety of its general office supplies, electronics, furniture, cleaning supplies and break room products. The benefits of using Quill.com include a balanced marketing package that includes logo design, SEO, and social coupon services. Quill’s customer service is quite decent, offering to e-mail, call or chat with an advisor if you need any help. The great thing you can do when shopping on this website is subscribe to their newsletter to receive exclusive e-mail coupons and deals, offering a huge variety of bulk-buy discounts for businesses of all sizes.

FERGUSON.COM

Ferguson is one of the few websites that employ all of the best practices highlighted earlier in this article. This company definitely knows how to do their research when it comes to attracting customers to its brand. The difference between Ferguson and other B2B e-commerce websites is noticeable right from the homepage. The company has applied all the best practices of modern web-design to their website - it looks professional and is focused on its great and unique products. They currently present the biggest share of marketing in their niche, and their popularity seems to grow from month to month. Ferguson can be credited for using bright and fresh images and detailed descriptions. The merchandising team has put much effort into making sure you can find the right product that perfectly fits your needs.

MEDLINE.COM

Medline is currently the largest privately owned manufacturer of healthcare supplies in the USA. They distribute more than 350,000 products in all the areas of medicine making them the biggest distributor of medical supplies in the world. As you enter the website, it offers you to choose from 9 areas of interest, which then affects the type of information provided to you and your overall experience. Such personalization is a great bonus that helps you find products that are most relevant to your needs.

THERMO FISHER SCIENTIFIC

Thermo Fisher Scientific is an American company created in 2006 by the merger of Thermo Electron with Fisher Scientific. It provides laboratory and medical equipment used in scientific research all over the world. The company makes proper use of promotions and deals, offering seasonal discounts and special coupons to “Restock Your Lab.” The company is highly valued among biotechnological and pharmaceutical laboratories and corporations, colleges, universities, schools, research facilities, and hospitals. The company has expanded to more than 150 countries, having approximately 350,000 customers and offering around 600,000 products and services. Its website is comprehensive and a good example of a B2B ecommerce platfrom.

These were the top 10 revolutionary B2B ecommerce sites that we think hold the biggest value to you and your business.

Download white paper to learn about B2B ecommerce challenges & solutions

Ilse Lauwens
Director Marketing