When it comes to the terms "e-commerce" and "e-business," there's no significant distinction between the two. "PC Magazine" notes their general interchangeability as well as their shades of difference. The starkest difference in terms of how Amazon does business is between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) commerce. And surely, Amazon does both. How that affects you as a small business owner depends mostly on what it is that you are seeking from Amazon.


More specifically, e-commerce involves the ability to buy and sell online, while e-business has more to do with doing business in some form online -- whether that's buying, selling, marketing or otherwise. E-business, then, is a broader term that encompasses much more than the term e-commerce, and Amazon is involved in both. Furthermore, Amazon doesn't keep its e-business and e-commerce practices to itself; instead, it invites other businesses to benefit from Amazon's B2B and B2C applications.

Business-To-Business (B2B)

The business-to-business side of Amazon is diverse. For one thing, Amazon provides businesses with a means to sell directly on Amazon by setting up their own pages on which they list items for a nominal fee per transaction or per subscription. Additionally, the Amazon Payments service gives businesses a way to accept payments on their websites from buyers who have Amazon accounts. Beyond that, the Amazon Supply service is a way for businesses to purchase industrial supplies -- including office and shipping materials -- directly from Amazon. In addition, Amazon offers order fulfillment, which lets businesses delegate order packing and shipping to Amazon from any one of Amazon's warehouses located nationwide.

Business-To-Consumer (B2C)

The business-to-consumer side of Amazon actually overlaps somewhat with the B2B side. For instance, when Amazon helps a seller create her own page on which she can list her products, that's serving consumers, too, although not directly. However, Amazon also offers its own products, both new and used, which consumers can purchase directly from Amazon. Now that Amazon has entered the digital media realm with its exclusive Kindle e-reader and selection of e-books, Amazon serves consumers in this way, too. Through the Amazon Prime service, Amazon provides consumers with discounted instant video and e-books as well as free shipping specials for a monthly fee.


Amazon's B2B and B2C services do not include auction-style sales like its competitor, eBay. Rather, all prices are fixed prices. Amazon also competes with Google, a company that itself has entered the business-to-business realm by connecting businesses with relevant suppliers. However, while Google might provide services -- such as email, for instance -- that Amazon does not, Amazon still remains the e-commerce giant that not only sells its own wares but also enables third-party vendors to sell their products, too. From Amazon, businesses receive help with order fulfillment, transaction processing, cloud data storage service, advertising and more.