Helpful explanations of B2B and B2C ecommerce terms, mechanics, and concepts.
Last Published: 6/27/2018

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What is eCommerce?

  • eCommerce is a sales channel that crosses all industries that sell or promote brand awareness online.
  • eCommerce as a sales channel is part of a businesses’ digital strategy.

What is "Cross-Border eCommerce"?

Cross-border ecommerce is international ecommerce. It is literally "selling across a border using ecommerce", as opposed to the general concept of “ecommerce”.
Global map showing cross-border ecommerce shipments with arrows

B2B eCommerce

Business to business (B2B) ecommerce transactions are made between businesses, where a supplier sells in bulk

B2C eCommerce

Business to consumer (B2C) is where a business sells its product directly to a customer, either directly from a company website or an online marketplace

What is an eCommerce Marketplace?

  • A third-party website that hosts vendor pages as online storefronts
  • Transactions are processed by the marketplace service provider/operator

What is an eCommerce Platform?

  • A series of software technologies that are integrated into a business's website
  • Allows a business to solicit products or services from their website to complete the sales cycle
Graphic showing the cascading software applications required for an online sales website. Software listed includes login portal, CRM, inventory, fulfillment, product management, web analytics, payment.

What types of eCommerce Platforms are there?

  1. Transactional- conducts full end-to-end transactions via the website; enables customers to search for, order, and pay for products
  2. Informational- generates sales by promoting corporate/product awareness
  3. Online Marketplace/Auction- sales platforms that bring buyers and sellers together to facilitate transactions

What is a Digital Strategy?

A digital strategy addresses the basic needs of a business required to succeed in cross-border ecommerce sales channels.  Look around for reputable and helpful resources to help you understand abstract concepts such as internationalization/globalization from a business perspective as you work towards increasing your ROI from the ecommerce sales channel.

The eCommerce Transaction Process defines the ecommerce platform type, however your eCommerce Sales Channel Mix may contain all 3 types of ecommerce platforms mentioned above.

What eCommerce Regulations and Taxes are there?

  • U.S. Export Regulations still apply to ecommerce transactions
  • eCommerce Taxes & Regulations are not legally distinct from traditional point-of-sale transactions
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) & EU-U.S. Privacy Shield - All U.S. companies who are exporting to the European Union, marketing to EU citizens, or addressing inquiries from EU citizens for their products or services must comply with EU data privacy rules. The GDPR took effect May 25, 2018 and applies to all industry sectors. Register for recorded webinar on getting ready for GDPR”  Please register here to watch a pre-recorded webinar (May 22, 2018).

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

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