To sell products and services in the business-to-business (B2B) market successfully, companies must stay on the bleeding edge of advances in technology and marketing. B2B sellers have long relied on trends and data to shape their plans for besting their competition and delighting their customers. And as change has accelerated in recent years, staying on top of big-data stories and meaningful statistics in B2B e-commerce has only become more critical.
While evolution is nothing new in the B2B market, a few developments have begun to upend it to an unprecedented extent. First, more digital natives are taking over B2B buyer roles. This ongoing trend will transform and elevate the expectations that B2B sellers must meet when it comes to e-commerce experiences, and drive an industry-wide shift to digital-first browsing and purchasing.
The second and more sudden development driving B2B e-commerce adoption and evolution is the rapid digital shift caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Disruptions to in-person business transactions and the massive demand for online purchasing options have driven B2B e-commerce sales growth for many companies, a trend that is unlikely to reverse itself even after the crisis passes.
Amid rapid change in the B2B market, taking advantage of new opportunities requires an understanding of the landscape and where technology and marketing are headed. That’s where the following B2B e-commerce statistics come in handy. Take a look at the key trends and numbers below to help guide your future decisions.
1. U.S. B2B e-commerce will hit $1.8 trillion by 2023 (Forrester)
Across the world, the steady growth of B2B e-commerce has taken a sharp upswing (BusinessWire reports that the global market is estimated to reach $20.9 trillion by 2027). B2B transactions in the United States are no exception, with Forrester estimating that e-commerce will represent 17% of the U.S. B2B market by the end of 2023. Given the factors outlined above and many others, it’s clear that exponential growth in B2B e-commerce is here to stay. Buyers and especially sellers must adapt to this new reality quickly if they want to succeed.
2. Sales processed through B2B e-commerce sites, log-in portals and e-marketplaces grew overall by 18% in 2019 over 2018 (Digital Commerce 360)
Even before the unanticipated and unprecedented disruptions of 2020, B2B e-commerce transactions in 2019 had already surged far beyond those of the previous year. The nearly 20% increase in sales processed from 2018 to 2019 points to how critically important it is that B2B sellers deliver robust, seamless and intuitive digital customer experiences. With the ongoing shift to online marketplaces, competition for buyers who prefer to browse and purchase online will only increase. Failing to make e-commerce experiences simple and enjoyable is the surest way to fall behind in the race.
3. In 2019, all forms of B2B digital commerce grew 9x faster than did all U.S. manufacturing and distributor sales (Digital Commerce 360)
It’s important to understand the growth of B2B e-commerce not as an alternative to an equally robust and expanding physical marketplace, but as the new essential format for B2B transactions. While physical B2B commerce is still the larger market for now, there will soon be a tipping point after which companies that did not establish robust digital customer experiences won’t be able to keep up with those that did. To prepare for scalable and sustainable success in the near and long-term future, B2B sellers must invest in and prioritize their online platforms.
4. 43% of businesses still find buying online more complicated than buying offline (B2B Future Shopper report 2020 (UK))
As the profile of B2B buyers continues to change in the coming years, digital natives will begin to demand more seamless and efficient online platforms through which to procure the products and services they’re looking for. At this point, it seems, many B2B sellers are not prepared for this shift. With all of the tools available to digital marketplaces, from self-service, one-click reordering to AI-driven product recommendations, B2B e-commerce experiences can and should be incredibly simple and convenient to use. Companies with an eye on the future will be taking action today to prepare their e-commerce platforms for the B2B buyers of tomorrow.
5. 19% of B2B buyers would be persuaded to select a vendor based on their ability to offer a personalized online buying experience (Sapio research)
Website personalization is a perfect example of a strategy that companies that sell in the B2B marketplace should be adopting. A B2B e-commerce platform that invites visitors to log in, greets them by name, and offers them tailored pricing is taking full advantage of digital tools and features in order to make customers’ lives easier and their shopping experiences more enjoyable. This clearly works, as nearly one in five B2B buyers says that personalization in the e-commerce marketplace would be a deciding factor in their choice of seller. Taking steps now to introduce personalization and other platform enhancements will set B2B sellers up to attract and retain those buyers in the future.
The first step to B2B e-commerce success is understanding the landscape and the opportunities for your business. The next step is seizing those opportunities by taking action. See how simple improvements to your online platform can lead to significant growth using our B2B E-commerce Growth Calculator.