B2B online marketplaces will account for about 30% of all worldwide online B2B sales by 2024, a new study projects.

B2B e-marketplaces are set to boom with sales transactions globally in the next years, but the buyers making purchase transactions on such platforms also have detailed expectations on what they want those marketplaces to deliver, according to a pair of new research reports.

Combined,  business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketplaces are posited to grow web sales worldwide to an estimated $7.1 trillion from an estimated $2.01 trillion in 2018, says London-based payments research and consulting firm iBe TSD Ltd. IBe says peer-to-peer marketplaces, including eBay and AirBnB, will reach $240 billion in combined sales by 2024. But the area with the fastest-growing global marketplaces will be in B2B, iBe says.

Growth across many industries and vertical markets

Worldwide B2B marketplace sales could reach an estimated $3.6 trillion by 2024, up from an estimated $680 billion in 2018, iBe says. In comparison, B2C marketplace sales across the globe will reach a projected $3.5 trillion annually in five years from an estimated $1.1 trillion in 2018. Peer-to-peer marketplaces such as eBay and others will generate $240.8 billion in global sales by 2024, up from $47.8 billion in 2018, iBe says.

“Currently, only a mere 7.5% of the annual $7.9 trillion worth of online B2B sales, are made via marketplaces, but as businesses begin to realize the benefits of trading with partners via marketplace platforms and as more companies trade online, B2B sales will continue to grow,” says iBe special payments partner Masha Cilliers. “In fact, iBe expects this to reach $12 trillion by 2024, with B2B marketplaces’ share of online sales growing significantly to 30%” of all B2B online sales.”

Global sales on B2B marketplaces will grow from a base of businesses that include a wide range of industries and vertical markets, iBe says. “From the B2B sector, presently, small-to-medium enterprise (SME) businesses are exploiting B2B marketplaces most actively, while the large businesses are, not surprisingly, utilizing these marketplace platforms least.” Cilliers says. “All these verticals can grow exponentially by 2024.”

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B2B marketplace sales are growing, but business buyers also have certain characteristics—and expectations—according to new data from United Parcel Service of America Inc.

A look at buyers’ characteristics

In its annual report on online buyer behavior—Pusle of the Online Shopper—UPS also includes some new metrics on the characteristics of digital business buyers.

Among the findings in the UPS study, which were based on the responses of 897 business buyers in Asia, Europe and North America:

  • Nearly half of businesses expect to increase marketplace purchasing in the next one-to-three years.
  • 7 in 10 businesses research prices before buying, while 40% seek product details and 28% check delivery costs.
  • B2B buyers research on a supplier’s website (45%) vs. 42% on a search engine (42%).
  • In seeking a supplier, business buyers say they most value product quality (64%), supplier reliability (47%) and low cost (43%).
  • Small businesses are most likely to purchase from marketplaces for lower prices (73%), shopping efficiencies (42%) and better returns policies (43%).
  • Businesses also choose marketplaces for shipping efficiencies that speed up checkout and bring conveniences such as save delivery preferences (49%), save payment details (48%) and purchase in one click (49%)
  • Among B2B firms globally, 92% track at least some packages. 63% prefer to track via the carrier’s website and 49% prefer the supplier’s website.
  • B2B businesses cite a simple process, clear returns policy and free returns as key factors to a positive returns experience.

“The future looks very bright for online marketplaces, especially globally,” says UPS.

Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Digital Commerce 360 B2B News is a publication of DigitalCommerce360.com, whose titles also include Internet Retailer. Contact Mark Brohan, director of B2B e-commerce research, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @markbrohan.

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