B2B ecommerce sites in 2018 weren’t the fastest-growing electronic sales channel and they also weren’t the biggest channel, according to data in the recently published 2019 B2B Ecommerce Market Report.
But ecommerce site transactions—the online business-to-business commerce that originate on a manufacturer’s, distributor’s, wholesalers or retailer’s ecommerce site, log-in portal or on a marketplace such as Amazon Business—reached an all-time high in 2018. Moreover, an increased volume of transactions through electronic data interchange, e-procurement and other “many to many” internet networks such as SAP Ariba and others also are originating on the web and concluding as an online transaction on a B2B ecommerce site.
For example, some technology providers make it easy for buyers to go from e-procurement systems to ecommerce sites operated by suppliers, add items to a shopping cart and then have the order transmitted back to their procurement system. One such technology provider is PunchOut2Go LLC, which says it enables such transactions through 152 e-procurement systems and networks, including such large ones as SAP Ariba and Coupa Software Inc.
In many cases, B2B transactions go through more than one channel. A buyer may start a purchase in her e-procurement software but punch out to a supplier’s website and place the order through a site’s shopping cart. Or a purchase initiated on an ecommerce website may be completed with an invoice transmitted via EDI.
Overall, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers are investing more time money and resources into their ecommerce sites—or doing business on B2B marketplaces, according to data contained in the 2019 B2B Ecommerce Market Report.
Consider these facts:
- B2B ecommerce sites and marketplaces are a $1 trillion market. Ecommerce sites and marketplaces accounted for 7.2%, or $1.082 trillion of the estimated $7.360 trillion in U.S. B2B electronic transactions in 2018.
- B2B ecommerce sales remain a smaller slice of the overall sales pie but reached a historic high in 2018.
- Manual transactions accounted for 49.3% of all sales by manufacturers and distributors, compared to 32.5% through EDI, 11% through e-procurement and 7.2% for ecommerce site, marketplaces and log-in portals. But ecommerce sites also grew last year about 11%—and all-time high.
- A sense of urgency for ecommerce. While some B2B ecommerce pioneers have been selling online for years, that’s not the case for many manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors. That’s apparent from separate surveys B2BecNews conducted in 2018 of 150 manufacturers and 126 distributors and wholesalers. Of the 276 total companies that responded to the survey, just over half still did not have an ecommerce site, a sign that selling to business customers via websites is still in its early days. But the survey also revealed that there is an urgency to get into the game. Of those companies that did not have an ecommerce site, 75% had plans to launch one within two years, including 58.6% that said they would do so within 12 months.
Honeywell Aerospace, the $14 billion arm of Honeywell International Inc. that makes and maintains a wide range of parts for fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, is one manufacturer that’s not just looking to launch ecommerce as a means just to grow its own business.
In December Honeywell Aerospace launched GoDirect Trade, a B2B aviation marketplace for the $4 billion aerospace parts market. Honeywell Aerospace also wants to prove that broader use of ecommerce among many types of companies in the aerospace business can create industrywide opportunities and cut costs. “As an industry very little is done online now, but we want to change that,” says GoDirect Trade general manager Lisa Butters.
In the early going, business is brisk on GoDirectTrade.com, an indicator that B2B ecommerce can be used successfully aerospace parts buyers and sellers, she says.
In three months of operation, there are now 10 active storefronts on the marketplace and more than $300 million parts available for sale. The marketplace also has about 1,700 active users and an available inventory of 10,000 parts. “Our goal is to get 5,000 users by the end of the year and after three short months, we already have 1,700 users (both buyers and sellers),” Butters says. “That 1,700 user base is comprised of over 400 companies and is a mix of airlines, brokers, distributors and private individuals.”
Currently one in four users completes a purchase online. Users are buying and selling aerospace parts because ecommerce is making the purchasing process easier, faster and more open, Butters says. “We have almost 10,000 quality listings with documentation, price and photos available for each one,” she says. “One in four (users) are clicking and buying without negotiating—by mid-year we hope to have over a half billion dollars in quality listings.”
Sign up for a complimentary subscription to B2BecNews, published 4x/week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. B2BecNews is owned by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes DigitalCommerce360.com, Internet Retailer and Internet Health Management. Follow Mark Brohan, director of B2B e-commerce research, on Twitter @markbrohan.
Follow us on LinkedIn and be the first to know when new B2BecNewsFavorite