E-commerce technology provider BigCommerce surveys more than 500 of its clients and finds that 39% get at least half of their sales from business customers.

The tea leaves continue to read that as B2B e-commerce does indeed become a $1 trillion market in just about three years’ time more sellers want in on the action. And those merchants, dealers, distributors and wholesalers already doing B2B e-commerce also want a bigger share of the sales pie.

Forrester Research Inc. predicts that the B2B e-commerce market will generate annual sales of $1.2 trillion as soon as 2021. But a new survey of more than 500 sellers by e-commerce services provider BigCommerce finds that 39% of sellers already count on B2B e-commerce for 50% or more of their annual sales. BigCommerce received survey responses in March 2018 from 525 merchants that use BigCommerce software and get at least 1% of their sales from business customers either online or offline.

80% of merchants currently accept business orders online and 78% of sellers have been conducting B2B e-commerce for at least two years, BigCommerce says. 83% of B2B merchants that do not yet have an online sales channel expect to add one within the next 24 months.

“B2B buyers are hungry for a modern approach to business purchasing, and merchants that ignore customer preferences and available tools leave significant sales on the table,” says BigCommerce chief product officer Jimmy Duvall.

Other survey findings:

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  • Long track record. Of merchants that already sell online to business buyers, 48% have done so for more than five years.
  • Complexity and transparency concerns. More than 37% of respondents say the added challenge of managing multiple websites is a primary concern for launching B2B e-commerce. 33% of merchants also say that revealing B2B pricing online would hinder sales negotiations.
  • Reputation matters. 53% of merchants identified reputation as one of their business’ key selling points. “As products become more commoditized, businesses are more likely to compete on price alone,” the survey says.
  • Personalized experience. 71% of merchants believe an easy-to-navigate website to be the most important feature for B2B customers. A variety of payment options, in-depth product information, bulk ordering and custom quotes all also factor highly into  customer buying preferences, the survey says.
  • Not mobile—yet. Only 15% of merchants provide their B2B customers with mobile functionality, though just over half of those give their customers the ability to actually make purchases via a mobile app. 36% of merchants currently without a B2B app plan to have one within the next 24 months.
  • Heard it through the grape vine. 63% of merchants and sellers listed word-of-mouth as the primary way to attract sales but only 41% of merchants currently use social media as a sales or business acquisition channel.
  • Forecasting growth. 90% of merchants taking part in the BigCommerce survey expect some growth in B2B e-commerce sales, with 5% of survey respondents expecting their B2B web sales will double this year.

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