Today less than half of all distributor sales are electronic, meaning distributors and wholesalers have a big—if fast-changing—opportunity to grow ecommerce and gain a competitive advantage over B2B sellers that rely on such traditional B2B sales channels as phone and paper orders, according to the just-launched 2019 B2B Distributor 300.

Distributors and wholesalers are no strangers to B2B ecommerce. In fact, about two-thirds of all distributors have an online sales channel, according to research and analysis contained in the 2019 B2B Distributor 300, a new research report from Digital Commerce 360, publisher of B2BecNews.

Today about two-thirds—271,310—of the nation’s total universe of 411,007 distributors or wholesalers have at least one ecommerce site, a log-in portal, or both, estimates B2BecNews. Distributors and wholesalers also aren’t newbies in selling electronically to their customers.

Takeaways for distributors

The 300 distributors listed and compared in the B2B Distributor 300 are all at various stages of developing B2B ecommerce, but there are several significant takeaways that demonstrate how far along U.S. distributors as a group are doing at selling online.

Consider these facts:

  • Many distributors and wholesalers are veterans in selling electronically to their customers. Last year, about 40%, or $2.373 trillion, of all distributor and wholesaler sales was done electronically through a range of digital channels, including electronic data interchange, ecommerce and e-procurement, among a few others.
  • In 2018, distributors and wholesalers generated total ecommerce sales of $712.8 million, up 11% from B2B ecommerce sales of $640.2 billion in 2017. The growth in ecommerce was 1.7 times faster than the rate of growth among all distributor sales.
  • B2B buyers are giving B2B sellers more business. 25% of all B2B buyers make an ecommerce purchase at least weekly and 16% multiple time each week.
  • For 78%, or 283 distributors and wholesales, ecommerce accounted for a range of 10.1% to 25% of total sales.

Last year electronic sales of all types—including ecommerce, electronic data interchange, e-procurement, B2B marketplaces and industry exchanges—grew 2.3 times faster than all distributor sales, according to data in the 2019 B2B Distributor 300. But today, less than half of all distributor sales are electronic, meaning distributors and wholesalers have a big opportunity to build and grow ecommerce and gain a competitive advantage over B2B sellers that continue to rely only on such traditional B2B sales channels as phone and paper orders.

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But the window of opportunity won’t stay open for long. This report looks at the progress distributors and wholesalers are making with B2B ecommerce and why ecommerce is a slow build for many distribution companies. But the report also highlights why ecommerce is a critical sales and business development channel companies ignore at their own peril. And it reveals which distributors are seizing the day for ecommerce, and how they are doing so far.

The 2019 B2B Distributor 300 Report can be downloaded as a PDF now for just $299 or purchased as part of the Digital Commerce 360 Gold Membership, which provides deep discounts when all 30 ecommerce research reports are purchased as a package.

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