The Supply Chain: B2B vs. B2C
The purpose of this paper is to examine the differences between the business-to-business (B2B) and the business-to-consumer (B2C) supply chains. The first step is to define the terms supply chain, B2B and B2C, and then compare the supply chain characteristics in each business type.
The Supply Chain
"A supply chain, ..., is a coordinated system of entities, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. The entities of a supply chain typically consist of manufacturers, service providers, distributors, and retail outlets (Wikipedia, 2005)."
Business-to-business (B2B) is the exchange of products, services, or information between businesses rather than between businesses and consumers (SearchCIO, 2006), or e-commerce between businesses. Electronic technologies and most importantly, the Internet have drastically changed the B2B marketplace. Procurement processes, or the purchase and sale of materials and supplies between businesses and a key element in the B2B supply chain, have completely changed and are considered to be fluid in the most competitive systems.
In the past, most procurement activities were slow and labor intensive, taking place by telephone, mail, fax or in-person. Now they are achieved through highly integrated and often real-time systems that communicate worldwide, across many different platforms, in many different languages and coping with many different types of currency.
As an example, W. W. Grainger is one of the first B2B suppliers with an online presence. Grainger began integrating technology into its supply chain operations very early, starting in 1991 with the first digital maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) equipment catalogs. Grainger supplies businesses worldwide with MRO products via a sophisticated system of electronic ordering, processing, fulfillment and delivery. Grainger's supply chain includes all of the suppliers and manufacturers "upstream" from its website who fabricate the supplies and equipment that...