B2B e-commerce grows after difficult period in 2020


The memo summarizing the growth of B2B e-commerce is available. The key takeaway: In the future, more business buyers will make less purchases over the phone, fax, and manual transactions, and more online.

“If you had any doubts about the validity and speed at which your customers are adopting solutions online, 2020 has taken all doubts away,” says Dave Gravely, vice president of e-commerce for State Electric Supply Co., a distributor. 67-year-old regional electrical product. data communication and power transmission products.

Last year, total B2B e-sales (including e-commerce and EDI) grew 9.6%, but not as fast as double-digit increases in previous years, according to data and analysis contained in Digital Commerce 360’s recently released 2021 B2B Ecommerce Market Report.

B2B e-commerce sales increased 10% to $ 1.39 trillion in 2021, from $ 1.26 trillion in 2019. Combined with online procurement sales, B2B e-commerce sales in 2020 grew 11.8% to $ 2.19 trillion.

B2B digital sales channels, including electronic procurement, electronic data interchange (EDI) and other channels in addition to e-commerce sites, grew 9.6% to reach 9.92 trillion dollars in 2020, up from $ 9.06 trillion in 2019. In 2020, B2B sellers saw a significant increase in demand for digital commerce sales channels from B2B buyers as the global pandemic began last spring to close traditional sales channels such as distribution branches last spring.

“There was literally a frenzy for businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, to catch up with digital customer demand or start from scratch,” says Brian Beck, managing partner of Enceiba, an agency that helps manufacturers and retailers. brands for sale through Amazon.com and Amazon Business.

But while B2B e-commerce sales have grown overall, growth has been very uneven across many sectors, depending in large part on the impact of COVID-19 in specific markets. Overall, a January 2021 survey of 110 B2B sellers of varying sizes found that many companies ended 2020 with good growth in B2B e-commerce sales.

The survey found that 62% of businesses reported an increase in online sales of at least 25% last year, including 12% who increased their sales by more than 75%.

But metrics from Bloomreach Inc., a developer of personalization apps, reveal a different picture. A sample of data from Bloomreach’s B2B customers reveals that total digital sales fell 2.3% year-over-year and conversion rates (the number of website visitors who make a purchase) have declined by almost 30%. Bloomreach has not released specific figures.

“What is obvious is that traffic was up 32%, but sales were down 2.31%,” said Brian Walker, chief marketing officer and ecommerce analyst at Bloomreach. “We believe the traffic and search traffic was due to heavy traffic for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but overall sales numbers were down due to the global business cycle, with many B2B customers impacted by the pandemic and lockdowns for restaurants, schools, offices and other places.

Sign up for a free subscription to Digital Commerce 360 ​​B2B News, published 4x / week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. Contact Mark Brohan, Vice President of B2B and Market Research Development, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @markbrohan.

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