Top B2B e commerce sites and companies
Updated: April 09, 2020 | Ilse Lauwens, Marketing Director
With the advancement of 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 that is executed by implementing information technologies in the process of production, trading, and distribution of goods and services. It is becoming more and more popular for companies to go online in all of the areas of business, including B2B commerce. When we mention B2B, the first thing that comes to mind is e-commerce systems – software and websites, which become tools for purchasing products and goods for businesses via the Internet.
Nowadays, B2B e-commerce sites keep gaining popularity. Using B2B e-commerce sites is becoming more favorable for B2B e commerce 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 the larger companies. B2B platforms are valued for their usability and include various solutions for the suppliers, as well as for the customers.
There has been a drastic shift in the e-commerce from B2C (business to consumer) to B2B. B2B e-commerce sites are more complex and contain way more features than B2C. In this article, we would like to present you the top B2B e commerce sites.
Top 5 B2B challenges and solutions
B2B ecommerce has specific business model and process challenges which require customized solutions or special software platform. In this whitepaper we'll provide top 5 challenges that B2B ecommerce websites face and their best solutions.
B2B Ecommerce Case Studies from Virto Commerce
Retail equipmentObjective: B2C/B2B Online StoreProviding maximum scalability and centralizationfor expanding business internationally.
B2B GiftsObjective: PlatformConsolidate various system using single platform to manage gift certificates for largest companies in the world. Provides both B2C and B2B solutions.
Retail lightingObjective: B2C Online StoreCreate value through growth in profits by expanding the existing stores.
Retail blindsObjective: B2C/B2B Online StoreFlexible solution with maximum customization for the online window-treatment website.
What is the focus of top B2B e commerce sites?
While compiling this list, we focused on several features, which every B2B e-commerce company and portal should have.
- Complex pricing options. B2B e commerce companies often offer different prices for different business partners.
- Flexible checkout process and delivery. The checkout process should always match your company’s regulations for payment and shipping.
- Navigation and search. User experience is critical in evaluating the quality of an e-commerce website. Every buyer has to be able to easily find what he needs and be done with placing the order as quickly as possible. It is also crucial for every B2B e-commerce company to have a relevant and high-quality site search.
- Customer registration. B2B sites usually require mandatory registration to provide their customers with the custom products, special prices, and deals.
- Mobile commerce and e-mail marketing newsletter. The website should be accessible for mobile users and interact with its buyers on a day-to-day basis via e-mail newsletters.
- Certified e-commerce trust marks that prove the website's reliability when it comes to purchasing goods and services.
Top 10 revolutionary B2B e-commerce 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 provide inspiration and have truly been revolutionary and innovative.
The e-commerce company based in China and launched in 1999. It is currently the world’s largest global e-commerce 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 huge benefit 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 with no fee, and with the Gold membership, you get a mini- website to display the unlimited amount of goods or services. As a buyer, the only thing that 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 for expanding to overseas markets.
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 cheap solution for all of your e-commerce needs that can be adapted to any web-hosting.
The history of ThomasNet dates back to over a century ago, 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 a lot 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.”
Trade Key is Australia’s answer to the rest of the world and the important player of the top 10 b2b e-commerce sites. Having 158,000 members, it is the most popular B2B marketplace in Australia! Despite not being a large marketplace, it can easily provide any product within 38 selected categories. The design of the website 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.
MSC Industrial Supply Co.
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 largest 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 they have spent on customer experience and on optimizing their website. The search function is great - it allows you to find items by their serial numbers and implements visual catalogs.
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 barcode of the product or get help from the customer service team. The great filtering options in the search feed allow, for example, to only see the items you have previously purchased. Another nice feature is estimated product arrival times.
Being owned by Staples, Quill.com is the largest office supplier, which is purposefully created for B2B e-commerce. 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 in case 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 is one of the few websites that employ all of the best practices highlighted earlier in the 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 home page. 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 are currently presenting the biggest share of marketing in their niche, and their popularity seems to be growing from month to month. Ferguson can be credited for using bright and fresh images and detailed descriptions. The merchandising team has put a lot of effort into making sure you can find the right product that perfectly fits your needs.
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, which also makes 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 that has evolved in 2006 as a result of merging the Thermo Electron with the 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 over 350,000 customers and offering around 600,000 products and services. Its website is comprehensive and is a good example of a B2B e-commerce site.
These were the top 10 revolutionary B2B e-commerce sites that we think hold the biggest value to you and your business.