We serve up more than 20 stories that show how B2B companies dealt with the challenges and opportunities of 2021.

Wall Street analysts predict a far more dominant future for Amazon Business

Amazon Business is on course to surpass $30 billion in gross sales this year and surpass $80 billion by 2025, Bank of American Securities internet analyst Justin Post projects. His projections follow the projections of other Wall Street analysts projection exponential growth for Amazon Business.

How Wayfair Professional is building out its B2B market

Retail marketplace Wayfair Inc. is showing significant growth in its Wayfair Professional B2B service, which has more than $1.5 billion in annual net revenue, Wayfair Professional vice president Margaret Lawrence said on an earnings call.

Industrial pipe distributor MRC Global generates 40% of Q2 sales online

MRC Global says it expects ecommerce sales to grow steadily, reduce operating costs and improve customer service as more buyers purchase online.

An online PPE start-up comes through for deaf people

ClearMask, launched in 2017 by graduate students, develops and sells see-through masks designed to help deaf and hard of hearing people communicate through facial expressions. It has sold more than 12 million medical- and consumer-grade masks—and all B2B and B2C sales are through its ecommerce site.

How DuPont is jumping feet-first into the digital marketplace waters

Realizing it needed an ecommerce presence but lacking ecommerce expertise in-house, DuPont launched a storefront on the Knowde.com marketplace.


Xometry eyes a $2 trillion market with purchase of Thomas

In a $300 million deal, manufacturing marketplace Xometry acquired Thomasnet.com, a B2B portal whose more than 1.3 million registered users include Grainger, General Electric Co., and other big names. Xometry says the combined company has revenue of more than $250 million.

Genuine Parts invests $1.3 billion to take on big MRO distributors

The ecommerce-focused distributor of industrial supplies and automotive parts is buying Kaman Distribution Group for $1.3 billion to build its market share in the business of selling maintenance, repair and operations products and compete against major MRO distributors, Genuine Parts Co. said last week.

Parts Town’s technology and strategy for surpassing $1 billion

In the restaurant business, minutes of downtime in the kitchen because of broken or missing parts in cooking equipment can sour the best recipes and stifle peak periods. In the replacement parts distribution business, figuring out innovative ways to expedite delivery of parts and service to commercial kitchens has led distributor Parts Town to more than $1 billion in sales—with 70% handled digitally.

A cable manufacturer powers up product data for online distributors   

When buyers of its industrial cabling products began placing more orders through its distributors’ ecommerce sites during the pandemic, Prysmian Group realized the time had come to eliminate data silos and upgrade its product information management system to support online sales.


Headless commerce works for a safety products manufacturer

When National Marker Co. chose headless commerce technology, it wanted an ecommerce site it could easily modify for both B2B and retail customers. It now manages both online channels expeditiously, the manufacturer says.

CarMax’s all-digital wholesale business drives up overall net sales

The buyer and seller of used cars says its all-virtual wholesale business grew unit sales by 41.4% year over year to a quarterly record of more than 188,000 vehicles, resulting in a 107.7% increase in wholesale sales to $1.7 billion. In addition, omnichannel retail sales rose 39.1%, as combined wholesale and retail net sales reached a quarterly record of $8 billion.

Fastenal grows Q3 ecommerce sales by 43%

The industrial distributor said third-quarter electronic sales, including web and EDI transactions, amounted to $216.2 million, or 13.9% of total sales of $1.55 billion.

How marketplace Sourcengine.com is changing commerce for electronics

A B2B marketplace for electronic components, Sourcengine has launched new online commerce tools to expedite how buyers find and purchase products—including during times of disrupted supply chains. Sourcengine is seeing an increase in digital buyers, CEO Jens Gamperl says.


How AI is helping MSC Industrial Supply fine-tune its marketing

Q&A: Rich Bonfiglio, MSC’s senior director of digital marketing, addresses how artificial intelligence is becoming “an integral part of how we develop and manage new programs.”

Supply chain issues keep Grainger’s digital plans flexible

The prominent distributor of maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) products said it expects supply chain challenges to continue through this year and possibly into 2021. Nonetheless, for the second quarter, it said its total sales grew by 13% year over year to $3.2 billion.

Emerson Electric shines a brighter light on digital commerce

MyEmerson is part of a broader digital makeover strategy for Emerson, and the new portal has the potential to configure product instrumentation up to 93% faster than Emerson did before the portal, typically saving over 100 engineering hours annually.

COVID-19’s effect on B2B buyers

As COVID-19 has caused B2B buyers to conduct more of their purchasing online, more than a third are purchasing from B2B ecommerce sites at least weekly, and more than 80% at least monthly.


Digital pioneer Protolabs takes its ecommerce strategy to the next level

Digital manufacturing services provider Protolabs is betting its new digital quoting system and acquisition of 3D Hubs will go a long way toward saving its customers time and money.

How PPG accelerated its ecommerce strategy during the pandemic

As COVID-19 disrupted business, paint supplier PPG sped up a pivot to ecommerce and an upgraded fulfillment model. As customers begin ordering online, they typically increase their number of orders, head of technology Akos Nagy says.

Why headless commerce works for Staples Promotional Products

The supplier of promotional products ranging from personalized apparel to pens and coffee mugs is smoothing out its sales operations with a new ecommerce platform and online product configurator.

A restaurant supplier broadens its market during COVID—and beyond 

Mission Linen Supply, a nearly century-old provider of tablecloths and other products and services to restaurants, worked with its suppliers and a flexible ecommerce platform to jump on new opportunities during the pandemic—and set the table for growth in the years ahead.


Looking ahead: The 2021 B2B Ecommerce Market Report

The 2021 B2B Ecommerce Market Report puts in  perspective the turbulence of 2020. While ecommerce sales grew overall, the growth was highly uneven across many industries, depending in large measure upon the impact COVID-19 had on specific markets, the report says.

How Bendix built a better B2B ecommerce site

Commercial vehicle parts manufacturer Bendix launched a new ecommerce site after asking distributors what they needed. “We wanted to make our site as user-friendly as possible so it would become the go-to site for everything Bendix,” Marylou Hornung, director of sales operations, says.

Procter & Gamble rides a growing wave of ecommerce sales

While dealing with pandemic market pressures—including a loss of sales to hotels experiencing a downturn in business travelers—P&G says its overall ecommerce sales grew by nearly 50% in the second half of last year and accounted for about 14% of global sales.