10 B2B Ecommerce Case Studies to Inspire You
Running a B2B ecommerce business can sometimes be a challenge — especially if you’re new to using an ecommerce platform. Doing your research and browsing a few extant B2B ecommerce examples can be a great way to launch your own business, or upscale a current one.
There are many complexities to running a B2B business that you might not encounter in other forms of ecommerce, like B2C.
From processing complex orders, engaging with your audience, and optimizing your site for inbound marketing, a lot goes into managing an ecommerce website.
While it can often seem like a journey of trials and errors, there’s no doubt that your business will benefit from having a greater presence online. It’s time to set your sights on writing your own ecommerce success story.
Read on to find out more and check out a few successful B2B ecommerce examples to inspire your own story.
In this B2B ecommerce guide:
- What is B2B ecommerce – and how does it work?
- How is B2B ecommerce changing?
- 10 Inspiring B2B ecommerce brand stories
- Lessons from top B2B ecommerce brands
- Frequently asked questions
What is B2B ecommerce – and how does it work?
Business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce is the sale of products between businesses, conducted on an online website. Products are displayed on a website and orders can be placed with the business via an online portal. The seller then ships the items to the recipients given delivery address.
All kinds of products can be sold online – from software and furniture, to clothing and cooking utensils.
How is B2B ecommerce changing?
The B2B world is evolving. Digital marketplaces must constantly evolve to keep up with changing technology and consumer demands. Brands which don’t deliver on the latest customer expectations often soon disappear.
The line between B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) is becoming ever more blurred. Many of the traditional B2B ecommerce companies sell to consumers and vice versa.
Advantages of B2B
Before you take a look at some B2B examples, it can be helpful to know what sort of advantages you’re on the lookout for. Some of the benefits of a B2B ecommerce operation include:
- Digital location. Your shop exists digitally with an ecommerce platform. There’s no requirement for a physical business space. You might need to consider warehouse storage for your stock, depending on your business operation. However, there are ways to run a business without owning any stock at all, like dropshipping.
- Profit margins. Shop floor. Warehouse. Staff hires. There’s no need for any of these expenses with an ecommerce store. Lower overhead increases the potential for higher profits, as you’ll get to keep a larger percentage of your sales totals.
- Scalability. B2B platforms are scalable. By adopting new technologies, like cloud computing, you can expand accessibility across the globe – supercharging your business’ growth potential.
- Customer base. Likewise, as your B2B platform reaches a global audience, you can expand the size of your customer base exponentially – vastly increasing the likelihood of improved profits.
- Analytics. Integrating customer data software, like an Order Management System, can enable you to track and store important customer data, which you can leverage to make data-driven decisions in future.
10 inspiring B2B ecommerce brand stories
The success of your B2B ecommerce business relies not only on designing a great website and adding a few calls-to-action.
From choosing the right ecommerce platform to branding to showcasing your products, a lot of planning and strategy goes into creating an attractive and lucrative online store.
Study these 10 brands and see how they mastered the art of selling online, gained brand awareness, and even doubled their business revenue.
1. The global expansion of Rubik’s.
Everyone knows the Rubik’s Cube is the #1 selling puzzle game in history. So when Rubik’s decided to take their business online, they knew that they had the opportunity to broaden their reach and increase their revenue.
According to Rubik’s ecommerce and Digital Marketing Director, Fabrice Druelle, Rubik’s was in the market for an ecommerce platform that would allow them to scale their business and expand to new countries.
“We needed a scalable solution… with a high level of flexibility,” said Druelle.
With Adobe Commerce, Rubik’s was able to launch quickly. Within four months, their customer experience moved from a catalog-based site to a more interactive experience–with more options for toy distributors, fresh content, a new check out process, and a wider range of features.
Their (UK) revenue increased by 150% in the first six months and their conversion rate doubled.
In Rubik’s case, choosing a more flexible and scalable ecommerce platform enabled them to grow their business significantly and offer a better experience to their distributors and customers.
Read the full Rubik’s case study
2. Planning for the future with HP.
HP manufactures computers, workstations, and printers for businesses and consumers alike.
When they decided to expand their Asia-Pacific division (and open five online stores), they realized they needed to work on a B2B ecommerce business plan that was future-ready but still had a “local feel.”
HP turned to Adobe Commerce for a platform that could support multiple stores globally. With the best in site navigation, design templates, and on-site security, Adobe Commerce was an obvious choice when it came to expanding their B2B ecommerce website.
Creating several new online stores in different regions came with its own set of obstacles–particularly in terms of content, processing payments, and language translation. They built the right website for their company, the transition was seamless and the payoff was significant.
The result was a more “local” feel for users online and a movement of 23% of users opting to purchase their products online as opposed to at an in-person store.
Read more about HP and their success with Adobe Commerce
3. Building projects made easy with Selco.
Selco Builders Warehouse is a British brand that connects building contractors and tradespeople with building material products.
As a B2B sales company that values digital expansion and creative advertising, Selco utilized the Adobe platform to connect with entrepreneurs and businesses online. However, they recognized that contractors are busy people, so they wanted to eliminate the headaches of searching for materials and tools in a vast catalog.
To help their audience find what they need faster, they created the Project Tool App. This app assists tradespeople with project management – finding products online and communicating with their team, no matter where they are.
Selco was able to see a gap in the market for something that would connect their customer base with what they needed, faster. By discovering new ways to invest in digital technologies, they were able to generate 600,000+ more website visits, sell more products online, and create an all-in-one solution for their customers.
Learn more about this Selco innovation
4. A BAUHAUS B2B empire.
BAUHAUS is a well-known German home improvement company with a legacy of quality products and over 250 stores across Europe. They specialize in home improvement, gardening, tools, and outdoor living.
Their B2B ecommerce journey started with Adobe Commerce in the early 2010s, when they first opened their digital store. BAUHAUS has grown to offer over 50,000 products and has seen a 296% increase in online revenue in the past decade.
By taking their longstanding business online, they were able to increase their reach and offer more products, which led to a 376% increase in conversion rates. Theirs is a lesson in keeping up with the latest technologies and seeing the potential in expanding to new platforms.
Read the entire BAUHAUS story
5. A cool B2B solution for Watsco.
When things heat up in the summer, you need a cool solution. But when business started heating up for the HVAC company Watsco, they needed a cool way to expand their business online.
With Watsco, AC installation is just a call or click away. They order the parts, install it, and share everything you need to feel chill and relaxed.
Watsco also helps contractors in the HVAC industry do their jobs more efficiently by connecting them with the supplies that they need and forging partnerships to increase revenue.
Their B2B ecommerce strategy has resulted in 50% growth year-over-year, expansion to 500 locations, and over $900 million in sales.
Paul McCluskey, the Director of Ecommerce at Watsco, said of Adobe Commerce:
“The goal was to find a platform that had a large community of resources to draw from, was capable of enterprise-level order volumes, was backed by a leadership team with a solid industry reputation and a passion for driving innovation... Adobe matched all of these criteria.”
6. Fixing complex problems for Vink VTS.
Vink VTS is a plastics company that delivers a wide range of plastic materials to businesses. The industries they serve include construction, manufacturing, automotive, medicine, transportation, and many others.
While they have dominated the space, serving over 120,000 customers online and beyond, they needed to address some complex issues in their business to provide a better experience and generate more revenue.
They needed to move from their existing tailor-made platform to something more agile. So they built a new Adobe Commerce platform. This allowed B2B customers to see all deliveries, order, and invoices online in real time.
This re-working of their ecommerce platforms allowed for more flexibility and overall scalability. The result was a 160% increase in website orders and a movement from internal sales calls to online orders.
Find the full Vink VTS case study
7. Double the sales for Rubie’s Costumes.
Have you ever dressed up as your favorite movie or television show character for Halloween? If so, it’s likely that you wore a costume made by the costume manufacturer Rubie’s.
Rubie’s is the largest manufacturer of licensed costumes in the world and absolutely dominate their industry. From Star Wars to superheroes, more than 50% of all character costumes are made by Rubie’s and distributed to costume stores across the world.
While Rubie’s does sell costumes direct to customers online, B2B sales are their main focus. By updating their ecommerce operation, they have been able to reach more entrepreneurs, party stores, and re-sellers.
They have since been able to double their online orders year-over-year through allowing users to place orders online. This has resulted in a faster purchasing process and a better user experience.
8. Going modern with Steelcase.
Sometimes businesses just hit a roadblock when it comes to their existing ecommerce platform. Maybe the backend is clunky, features are limited, their website is lagging, or it just makes scalability difficult.
Steelcase, a B2B company in the office furniture industry, ran into a few of these issues with their existing platform and decided they needed to make a change. They needed something modern and flexible.
Since Steelcase serves customers of all sizes and works with a wide network of dealers, it was important that their ecommerce site showcase their vast range of build-to-order products and ordering options.
A shift to Adobe Commerce meant offering over 25 quadrillion (yes, you read that right) SKUs expanding to 1,000s of new B2B websites.
“Adobe Commerce is a modern, flexible platform that allows us to present our complex product offering to customers in a friendly, approachable, and easy-to-understand way. It’s aligned with our brand and what customers expect from a modern online shopping experience.”
9. Better UX for Intelligentsia Coffee.
Everyone loves a good cup of Joe. Intelligentsia, the Chicago-based coffee retailer, delivers the best coffees from Central America, South America, and beyond to their customers and distributors.
Their success is built on solid relationships with growers and their high standards for responsible, ethical farming.
Since they also sell coffee to grocery stores, restaurants, and wholesale businesses (in addition to B2C), they needed an ecommerce platform built to accommodate all kinds of orders.
To unify their B2B and B2C business, they worked to combine multiple product catalogs on the backend. This streamlined the process for customers and resulted in a better, more mobile-friendly user experience. With Adobe Commerce, Intelligentsia was able to integrate their sites seamlessly with their existing systems.
A better purchase experience led to a 16% increase in mobile transactions, a 40% increase overall, and their conversion rate increased by 20%. Big wins for these coffee connoisseurs.
10. Rainbow Treecare goes national.
Rainbow Treecare, a tree and plant health care company, wanted to take their business international. They used Adobe Commerce 2.2 to make it happen.
Their B2B sales business consists of developing a range of healthcare products for tree care professionals, landscapers, and government agencies. They provide affordable, sustainable solutions to caring for trees and plants in cities, neighborhoods, and beyond.
They were looking to grow their ecommerce business by expanding internationally and having a more enhanced online presence. While their existing presence was more about education, they started implementing online store ordering.
“The goal was to extend the backend API to enable communication between [all] systems, so that all customer, product, and order information... could be shared with Adobe Commerce. It also connected with existing credit and payment processing capabilities, so customers could easily place online orders for the first time.”
The new website opened up new markets to Rainbow Treecare, allowing them to process more orders than ever before and increase their revenue. Now customers everywhere are accessing their site via mobile and are even ordering outside of regular business hours.
Lessons from top B2B ecommerce brands
Countless brands have taken their businesses online, opening online stores and investing in their own B2B ecommerce platform.
The success of these brands depends on a combination of the right platform, the right message, and the right marketing strategy. The business case studies above represent B2B companies that understand the necessity to keep up with the changing times and the value in providing new solutions to complex problems.
The top B2B ecommerce brands know how to:
- Fill the gaps and solve problems for their customers.
- Provide valuable, educational content.
- Save time and money for themselves and their B2B customers.
- Expand to new markets and offer innovative products.
- Choose an ecommerce platform that will evolve with their business.
- Invest in digital technologies.
- Increase brand loyalty through better customer support.
- Keep up with business trends, events, and the latest marketing strategies
- Stay true to their brand message, legacy, and mission
There are plenty of benefits to launching an ecommerce business and the sector is only on the rise.
Frequently asked B2B ecommerce questions
What are the four types of ecommerce business?
The four types of ecommerce examples are: B2B (business-to-business), B2C (business-to-consumer), C2B (consumer-to-business) and C2C (consumer-to-consumer).
How is the B2B buyer journey different from that of B2C?
Traditionally, B2B sales might be for large order items and higher demand, like paper sales or software for a business’ IT department. Meanwhile, B2C purchases are usually for an individual and are, therefore, much smaller in scale.
What are B2B products?
B2B businesses offer a wide range of products. All those other businesses may need. From printing paper and stationary to mechanical equipment and factory machines.