"B2B" is contemporary shorthand for a longtime sales practice called business-to-business. Such transactions primarily target companies and other wholesale buyers, while transactions targeting individuals are called B2C, or business-to-customer. Many organizations have both B2B and B2C components, but it's not unusual for a company to specialize in services or sales between businesses. In fact, the vast majority of products and services sold are considered to be of this nature.
One major reason for the popularity of B2B sales and services is sheer volume. An individual customer may visit a clothing manufacturer's website catalog and order two pairs of shoes or a sweater. The buyer for a national chain of clothing stores, however, may order 5,000 pairs of shoes and 2,000 sweaters. Without a business-to-business component, the manufacturer would have lost out on a very lucrative sale. This is why many companies provide B2B options alongside the B2C offerings at their websites and other outlets.
Such sales are also generated by providing a specialized product line or service not available to the general public. This form of transaction is very common in the manufacturing world. A company that produces shaving cream in cans, for example, may need a specific plastic nozzle. Several plastic injection molding companies would send sales representatives to pitch their particular designs. These nozzles would be useless for individual customers, but a manufacturer may order thousands of them.
With the growth in electronic communications, B2B has taken on even more importance. Instead of simply focusing on business-to-business sales, modern corporations are conducting other financial transactions online. B2B communications are now being used to promote investment, trade stocks, and form financial alliances. Because the price of these transactions is far beyond the reach of most individuals, there is no equivalent business-to-customer option available. Some transactions handled electronically can literally run into the billions of dollars.