What are the 3 Types of E-commerce?

e-commerce website on mobile

E-commerce, or electronic commerce, refers to the buying and selling goods or services using the Internet. It has revolutionised the way we shop and do business. Broadly, e-commerce can be categorised into three main types: Business-to-Consumer (B2C), Business-to-Business (B2B), and Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C). Each of these types has unique characteristics and operates under different business models. Let's delve into each one to understand their dynamics.


Business-to-Consumer (B2C)

Definition and Characteristics

B2C e-commerce is the process where businesses sell products or services directly to consumers over the Internet. This is the most common form of e-commerce, including online retailers like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart.


  • An individual purchasing a book from an online bookstore.
  • Buying clothes from an online fashion retailer.

Key Features

  • Direct interaction between businesses and consumers.
  • Shorter sales cycle and immediate transactions.
  • Emphasis on user experience and customer service.

Business-to-Business (B2B)

Definition and Characteristics

B2B e-commerce involves transactions between businesses. This type typically involves larger transactions, such as bulk orders of materials or wholesale products. It's common in manufacturing, software, and supply chain management industries.


  • A manufacturer is purchasing raw materials from a supplier.
  • A retailer buys products in bulk from a wholesaler.

Key Features

  • Longer sales cycles and more complex transactions.
  • Emphasis on relationship building and long-term contracts.
  • It often involves higher volumes and values of transactions.

Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C)

Definition and Characteristics

C2C e-commerce is where consumers sell directly to other consumers. This type of e-commerce is facilitated by platforms that provide a marketplace for individuals to buy and sell from each other.


  • Selling used goods on eBay or Craigslist.
  • Offering handmade crafts on Etsy.

Key Features

  • Peer-to-peer transactions.
  • Often used for secondhand or unique items.
  • Platforms typically take a commission or listing fee.



Understanding the different types of e-commerce is crucial for anyone looking to start or expand their online business. Each type has its unique set of challenges and opportunities, and the choice depends on the nature of the products or services, the target audience, and the business model.


Relevant FAQs

What are the main differences between B2C and B2B e-commerce?

B2C typically involves direct sales to consumers with a shorter sales cycle, while B2B transactions are between businesses with longer sales cycles and larger order volumes.

Can a business operate in more than one type of e-commerce?

Yes, some businesses operate across multiple e-commerce types, offering different products or services to consumers and other businesses.

How has C2C e-commerce impacted the marketplace?

C2C e-commerce has democratised the selling process, allowing individuals to reach a wider audience and participate in the global marketplace.


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