E-commerce is gaining ground among manufacturers and distributors as more of them are implementing business-to-business websites and technology. And 21% of respondents to a recent survey say more than a quarter of their revenue comes from online sources.

Among 450 companies responding to a survey by Handshake Corp., a B2B e-commerce platform vendor, 44% have B2B e-commerce technology in place that enables customers to order online, and 64% have operated a B2B e-commerce portal for a year or more. 63% of survey respondents let their customers place orders on a mobile device. “As more manufacturers and distributors adopt online ordering, it’s going to become difficult to compete without it,” according to authors of the “2016 Manufacturing & Distribution Sales and Technology Survey Report.”

The significance of B2B e-commerce isn’t lost on those who don’t offer it: 50% of responding companies without B2B e-commerce report that they plan to implement it within one year, and 20% intend to do so within six months.

The survey was conducted among global manufacturers and distributors in more than a dozen industries. Organizations ranged in size from small and mid-sized businesses (64.7%) to mid-market (29.6%) and enterprise (5.7%).

When asked what commerce technologies were a priority for their businesses, 63% of respondents say e-commerce software for online B2B customer ordering, 58% cite mobile order-writing software for sales reps in the field and 30% mobile commerce software enabling customers to place orders from a mobile device.

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The report offers recommendations for manufacturers and distributors seeking to remain competitive in the online environment.

Elevate sales reps. “The role of reps is not disappearing, but changing. While some respondents have automated their sales reps’ ordering workflow using digital catalogs (49%) and order writing software (30%), there is still an opportunity for many to free up reps’ time for more strategic roles.”

Seize the mobile commerce opportunity. While B2B e-commerce has been the buzzword of the last few years, the next frontier is B2B mobile commerce, the report notes. But many have far to go. Of the 63% who say their customers can place orders on a mobile device, only 17% have a native mobile commerce app. “Manufacturers and distributors who are able to offer intuitive, convenient experiences on mobile will stand out from competitors,” the report’s authors say.

Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a twice-weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes the monthly business magazine Internet Retailer. Follow Bill Briggs on Twitter @BBriggsB2B.

 

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