Business to business e-commerce—introduction
Business to business e-commerce—introduction

The following Commercial guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Business to business e-commerce—introduction
  • Introduction to the B2B e-commerce sector
  • Role of e-commerce in the B2B sector
  • Electronic data interchange (EDI)
  • Blockchain
  • Smart contracts
  • Email e-commerce
  • Website e-commerce
  • M-commerce
  • Online platforms
  • more

This Practice Note provides an introduction to the business to business (B2B) e-commerce sector and covers:

  1. the meaning of ‘e-commerce’

  2. the role of the sector

  3. the commercial models employed, including:

    1. electronic data interchange (EDI)

    2. blockchain and smart contracts

    3. email

    4. website e-commerce

    5. mobile e-commerce (m-commerce)

    6. online platforms

  4. e-commerce platforms

  5. holding stock and drop shipping

  6. outsourcing

  7. international e-commerce

  8. the advantages and risks of e-commerce

  9. emerging trends and technologies

This Practice Note does not consider business to consumer (B2C) arrangements—for guidance on which see: Business to consumer e-commerce—summary of issues to consider. Consideration of sector specific laws or regulations, including those applicable to financial services or the public sector, is also beyond the scope of this Practice Note.

For guidance on key legal issues which arise in the context of B2B e-commerce, see Practice Note: Business to business e-commerce—legal issues.

Introduction to the B2B e-commerce sector

Meaning of ‘e-commerce’ and focus of this Practice Note

There is no universally accepted definition of electronic commerce (or e-commerce). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines e-commerce as follows:

‘An e-commerce transaction is the sale or purchase of goods or services, conducted over computer networks by methods specifically designed for the purpose of receiving or placing of orders. The goods or services are ordered by those methods, but the payment and the ultimate delivery of the