Combined B2B online sales figures for ecommerce sites, log-in portals and marketplaces increased by 18.2% year over year, as total sales for manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers increased by 1.5%, according to the 2020 B2B Ecommerce Market Report released last week.

The business-to-consumer ecommerce market is well established and into its third decade as a sales channel and established sales channel.

B2B buyers are increasingly preferring digital methods of placing orders.

Last year, B2C ecommerce sales grew about 15% to $601.75 billion and represented about 16% of all U.S. retail sales of about $3.76 trillion, which grew year over year by 3.8%, according to Digital Commerce 360’s 2020 Top 1000 report and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

But for even faster growth, check out B2B.

The B2B ecommerce market—which is far less established even though about 20 years old—also grew last year but at a slightly lesser pace. In 2019, digital B2B sales from all electronic channels—ecommerce sites, log-in portals, marketplaces, e-procurement systems, electronic data interchange, and other online buyer/seller networks—grew 10.9% to $9.00 trillion from $8.10 trillion, according to data and analysis in the 2020 B2B Ecommerce Market Report, a newly published research report from Digital Commerce 360 B2B

Hitting $1.3 trillion in sales

Digital B2B sales from ecommerce sites, log-in portals and marketplaces were on par with the growth in B2C ecommerce and increased at a slightly faster rate. Last year, the online sales that took place on B2B ecommerce sites, log-in portals and marketplaces increased by 18.2% to $1.3 trillion from $1.1 trillion in 2018.

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B2B and B2C ecommerce are completely different channels. Business-to-business transactions are more complex than those in the business-to-consumer arena, and the B2B channels are more varied than the retail websites and marketplaces that attract consumer dollars. For the purpose of this report, Digital Commerce 360 B2B has broken down B2B electronic transactions into three categories:

  • Ecommerce websites operated by individual companies, and online marketplaces where many companies sell a wide variety of products;
  • E-procurement software that allows companies to purchase electronically from approved sellers, either via their websites or electronic catalogs, and industry-specific and more general online networks and exchanges where registered buyers and sellers do business;
  • Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, which allows companies to exchange such standardized business documents as purchase orders and invoices via electronic networks.

Buyers prefer digital

B2B ecommerce remains a more complicated sales channel than B2C. But there are significant elements of B2C ecommerce that are making a major and ongoing impact on B2B, and a big factor driving that trend is COVID-19. How business buyers make purchases of goods and services online is driven in large measure by how they shop online as consumers, say ecommerce analysts.

“B2B buyers are increasingly preferring digital methods of placing orders,” says Lori McDonald, CEO of Milwaukee-based ecommerce services and website design and development firm Brilliance Business Solutions. “This is driven in part by younger buyers, but also from buyers of all ages that value the time-savings and convenience provided through ecommerce.”

The 2020 B2B Ecommerce Market Report is available as a downloadable PDF for $399. It’s also included in our Gold and Platinum Memberships, which provide access to all Digital Commerce 360 research reports and certain online retailer databases.

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. Contact Mark Brohan, vice president of B2B and Market Research Development, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @markbrohan.

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