What is e-commerce?

E-commerce stands for ‘electronic commerce’ or ‘internet commerce’ which occurs when people buy or sell things through online services/the internet. E-commerce can be done through a variety of technologies and ways such as simply buying a pair of brand new shoes from your smartphone, selling your services to customers online, downloading a paid for song and more. E-commerce is broken down into four main categories including:

Business to business (B2B)
Business to consumer (B2C)
Consumer to consumer (C2C)
Consumer to business (C2B)

When looking at electronic commerce, it’s easy to believe that it just entails simple transactions such as a business selling their product online to a consumer. For instance, Amazon is selling you your favourite cookbook. While this is an example of ‘business to consumer’, e-commerce spans over many more types of transactions as long as the web is being utilized for at least part of it. A simple way to look at the lifespan of an e-commerce transaction is the transfer of services and/or goods, the transfer of funds and then finally the exchange. Whether this occurs only between consumers, businesses or both depends on what type of model the transaction is. E-commerce has become one of the biggest and fastest growing industries across the world especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when people resorted to shopping online even more.

Business to business e-commerce

B2B e-commerce occurs when businesses carry out transactions with one another without involving consumers. This can happen when a manufacturer sells their products to a retailer or wholesaler. This is a very popular e-commerce model as many businesses order their goods online and have left traditional in-person transactions behind. The reason for this all comes down to convenience and what saves a business time and money. B2B e-commerce takes away stress and time by providing a business with a safe and reliable way to restock merchandise, access services and get quotes on items. This means a B2B wholesaler will sell their products online in bulk to other businesses and retailers. And in recent years many wholesalers have invested in creating online platforms to sell their products and services, widening their reach and utilizing the positive effects of B2B e-commerce. Other ways a business can involve themselves in B2B commerce is selling their online services to companies in need, just like what we do here at RAD Websites! The variety of B2B commerce models is large and the opportunities are endless. Other examples of B2B include websites like AliExpress, Rakuten, HubSpot, Amazon Business and Salesforce.

Business to consumer e-commerce

This type of e-commerce is the most popular model as the average person has purchased items or services online through e-commerce giants like Amazon, Knix, Spotify, Walmart, Adidas and even Netflix! Let’s say you are an average consumer looking to purchase an item such as a new blender or a service such as movie streaming online. You carry out an online transaction to achieve this good or service and then you finally receive your goods or services. Boom, you’ve just participated in a B2C e-commerce transaction! Having access to business to consumer e-commerce alleviates the need to physically go somewhere in order to purchase goods. This has allowed for convenient spending while turning many consumers away from traditional shopping at brick-and-mortar locations. Because of this, many brick-and-mortars have invested in creating online websites for their customers to use while also vastly increasing their brand awareness. B2C e-commerce gained even more popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were told to stay home and limit their in-person contacts. Now that lockdowns and mandates are no longer affecting people, consumers have more of a choice on how they get their goods and services although many have realized how easy it is to shop online.

Consumer to consumer e-commerce

C2C e-commerce is simply a model which sees two consumers engaging in online business with one another. If one person decides they want to sell a used coffee machine and they decide to list it for sale on a third party website for $20 and you buy it, you and the seller have engaged in C2C e-commerce. Some third party sites will charge sellers a small fee in order for them to sell their items but others are free. Depending on the quantity and frequency of the items you sell, you may find paid-for sites are the way to go. Some great examples of C2C e-commerce websites include eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and Esty. Lots of people love this form of e-commerce because it’s less costly than buying new products, it’s easier to sell things because of the lower price expectations, it’s extremely convenient and it’s good for the environment. However, there are some things to be aware of when engaging in C2C e-commerce. You cannot guarantee the quality of products which means people can misrepresent the product they are selling. It’s also important to note that scammers will sometimes use C2C e-commerce to take advantage of buyers. Never make an online payment before receiving your item and always exercise caution when it comes to providing payment.

Consumer to business e-commerce

Last but not least, C2B e-commerce flips the script when it comes to the ‘business and consumer’ relationship. This happens when the consumer offers a business a service or product. The exchange involves payment to the consumer through funds or other benefits. A freelance writer who writes copy for a business in turn for payment is a perfect example of C2B e-commerce. These individuals are considered consumers and not businesses because they create their own terms and they negotiate their own transactions when offering a service and/or product to a business. This model is great for individuals who want to provide products to businesses without making a business of their own. It allows consumers to pick and choose who they want to provide their services to for whatever benefits they decide and it offers great flexibility to both the consumer and the business. This idea has grown exponentially through social media and social media influencers who promote and showcase a company’s products on their platforms in turn for free products, money and or experiences.


E-commerce can be a tedious subject but once you familiarize yourself with the different categories, it won’t take long for you to understand the processes and benefits it can have for your business. RAD Websites is a great starting point for you to grow or start your own online presence. After being awarded the Best E-Commerce Website Agency in Western Canada and the Best E-Commerce Design Agency Canada-wide, it’s obvious that we have all the tools you need to achieve your goals.

If you are ready for a Rad Website you can fill out this personal consultation form or book a free 30 min consultation with the man himself with AJ the Rad Architect and your appointment will show up right in his Calendar.

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