Business-to-business-to-consumer e-commerce involves businesses using other businesses to reach customers. In other words, it combines elements of business-to-business and business-to-consumer models. The originating business sells products or services online to another business, and this other business essentially acts as a third party to pass the product or service along to consumers.
While several methods fall under the B2B2C model, a general understanding of what is intended will help you understand if it is the right choice for your business.
What Is B2B2C E-Commerce?
Business-to-business-to-consumer e-commerce models can take many different forms, but essentially, it involves selling products or services to a business and consumer simultaneously. A business finds another business to buy something as a sort of third party that passes that thing along to consumers.
- Alternate terms: Business-to-x, business-to-everyone, business-to-many
- Acronyms: B2B2C, B2X, B2E, B2M
How Does B2B2C E-Commerce Work?
While B2B2C e-commerce sounds like a complex business model, even average consumers interact with them fairly often. Whenever a consumer uses one business to order a product or service from another business, that is an example of B2B2C in action.
That means, anytime you order from a business using a mobile app, that's a form of B2B2C. Take Uber Eats, for example. Uber Eats sells its delivery service to a restaurant, and in doing so, it's able to sell its delivery service to consumers, as well. Many mobile apps that consumers use to get delivery could be considered a form of B2B2C.
To demonstrate the concept in a brick-and-mortar environment, think of a retailer that stocks items that they make, but also stocks products from other manufacturers. Walmart is the first that might come to mind—they have their own brand of products while also selling name-brand goods. When a brand sells their products to Walmart, they're selling to a business to reach a customer that shops at Walmart.
Amazon is an e-retailer that also fits this model. They stock goods and provide a channel to customers for product manufacturers and select service providers. Amazon sells its e-commerce hosting, warehouse storage, and delivery services to someone who has a product or service they want to sell. By selling these services to another business, Amazon can bring in customers who use Amazon to buy the products or services they host on their platform.
Pros and Cons of B2B2C
Businesses can tap into each other's customers
Customers can recognize your brand, even if they don't reach out to you directly
Reduces the impact of middlepeople
You must market to businesses and consumers simultaneously
You must prove to another business that consumers value you
Businesses may be wary to let you earn a profit from their customers
- Businesses can tap into each other's customers: The B2B2C e-commerce format can be greatly facilitated with pre-existing relationships. These relationships can be harvested to lead to a bulk acquisition of customers. Given the formidable cost of customer acquisition, this one benefit alone can make B2B2C a valid e-commerce model.
- Customers can recognize your brand, even if they don't reach out to you directly: While you can't forgo marketing to consumers altogether, you will benefit somewhat from reaching consumers who aren't actively seeking out your brand.
- Reduces the impact of middlepeople: B2B2C streamlines the supply chain and cuts out many opportunities for middlepeople to come in and take a cut of profits.
- You must market to businesses and consumers simultaneously: Depending on both businesses and consumers for your business model means that you must do double the marketing efforts. You have to simultaneously reach consumers and businesses and get them to both understand the value you offer them.
- You must prove to another business that consumers value you: Not only do you have to prove to another business that you offer them a value that they should buy—you also have to convince that business that consumers will also pay for your product or service. The value to your primary customer—which is another business—is in your product's retail value to consumers. If they believe they can't recommend and sell it, they won't buy it.
- Businesses may be wary to let you earn a profit from their customers: Two entities want to make money from your product—your business, and the B2C business you sell to. This can create tension when the B2C feels like they are having their profits significantly cut by incorporating your B2B2C product or service. For example, some restaurants have complained that the costs and fees of using delivery apps can hurt their bottom line.
- Business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) e-commerce is a business model that involves selling a product or service to businesses and consumers simultaneously.
- A common form of B2B2C e-commerce includes food delivery apps—the app sells its delivery services to both a restaurant and consumer.
- While B2B2C e-commerce offers benefits like access to existing customer bases and a streamlined supply chain, it can be tough to balance marketing between your B2C customers and consumer customers.