B2B Commerce Shopping Models

B2B purchases are made in a number of ways today. There are a few requirements that differentiate B2B commerce from B2C commerce:

  • Buyers have contracts with suppliers - these may include negotiated prices and product restrictions

  • Buyers’ orders often need to be be approved internally prior to being placed with the supplier

  • Orders need to be recorded in the buyers financial system

Brick and Mortar

Before eCommerce, there were physical stores, now referred to as brick and mortar stores. Shopping at a physical store allows shoppers to interact with products prior to purchasing. Shoppers can receive purchased goods immediately in most cases.

Brick and Mortar


  • Goods are received immediately


  • Approvals take place offline

  • Orders need to be manually entered into the financial system

When to Use: When goods are needed immediately

eCommerce Website

B2B shoppers can make purchases directly on their suppliers existing B2C sites. If there is a contract in a place with supplier, any negotiated discounts typically won’t be applied to these purchases. These purchases are often referred to as “maverick spend”, something procurement departments actively try to reduce.



  • Least expensive option for suppliers


  • No contract pricing

  • Approvals take place offline

  • Orders need to be manually entered into the buyer’s financial system

When to Use: When the buyer does not have a contract with the supplier

eCommerce Website w/Accounts

B2B eCommerce websites often support associating users with accounts (buying organizations) and customizing the catalog for a single account. This allows shoppers to login to an eCommerce website to see a view of the catalog that has been customized for their buying organizations negotiated contract. Employees can be pre-loaded into the suppliers eCommerce system or an email domain name validation can be used to verify the shopper belongs to the buying organization.

eCommerce w/Accounts


  • Contract pricing and product restrictions can be applied to the catalog


  • Every shopper has a seperate login for every supplier’s website

  • Different user experience at each supplier’s website

  • Usually no support for approvals

  • Need to disable account when employees leave - supplier may not be aware

When to Use: When the buyer makes infrequent purchases or does not have an eProcurement system

eProcurement Hosted Catalog

Organizations that use eProcurement systems may be able to load a suppliers product catalog into their eProcurement system. This allows employees of the organization to shop from the supplier’s catalog from within their eProcurement system.

Hosted Catalog


  • Buyers have one user experience for shopping from multiple suppliers

  • Orders can be approved internally before being sent to the supplier

  • Contract pricing can be included in the catalog


  • Supplier has to maintain a catalog file for every buyer

    • Each buyer may have a different preferred catalog file format

  • Buyer has to import catalog files for every supplier

When to Use: Buying organizations volume justifies catalog maintenance costs and catalog/pricing does not change frequently

eProcurement PunchOut

PunchOut is a technology that allows employees to access their suppliers eCommerce sites from within their organizations eProcurement system. Upon checking out of a PunchOut-enabled eCommerce site, the users shopping cart transferred to the eProcurement system where it can be turned into a requisition and submitted for approval.



  • Supplier can leverage existing eCommerce site

  • Pricing can be updated by the supplier


  • Different search experience for every supplier

  • Can’t search across suppliers simultaneously

eProcurement Search API

Advanced eProcurement systems support catalog API integrations directly with suppliers. These integrations provide the shoppers with a similar experience to hosted catalogs but with the benefit of real-time pricing and product availability. Suppliers need to have an API for search all products in their catalog by keyword and an API to retrieve customer-specific pricing.

Search API


  • Pricing can be dynamically updated by the supplier

  • Uniform interface for searching

  • Shopper can search across suppliers simultaneously


  • Lack of support for configurable/personalized products

When to Use: Buying organization is using a modern eProcurement system