The viability of consumer eCommerce is a no-brainer. What’s often forgotten is B2B (business to business) eCommerce, but sites like Amazon.com are starting to fill the gaps left by others. While B2B purchases tend to be much larger than consumer purchases, and the sales cycle is longer, customers still want the convenience of going to a website to make the final sale, purchase supplemental parts/pieces, or be involved in the purchase cycle. eCommerce sites don’t have to disrupt the B2B purchase cycle which is based on relationships and trust — they can be used to automate processes and increase customer satisfaction. W.W. Grainger, which is a supplier of industrial parts and equipment, is an excellent example of B2B eCommerce.
For more on the opportunities of B2B eCommerce, Practical eCommerce has this article:
Many B-to-B companies have long believed that ecommerce would create channel conflicts between sales personnel, suppliers, and other channels. But in reality, B-to-B sales channels are already disrupted by ecommerce. Manufacturers are selling directly to consumers. Manufacturers and distributors are selling products on AmazonSupply.com, Alibaba.com, and other portals to other businesses. Wholesalers are consolidating rapidly because they are caught in the channel chaos. – B-to-B Ecommerce: Big Opportunity, with Obstacles by Dale Traxler