B2B distribution companies are moving to slowly but surely to become commerce-enabled, but the adoption rate varies widely by industry, says a new report from research and consulting firm Distribution Strategy Group.
The Distribution Strategy Group in its latest report, Getting More from Your Ecommerce Investment, finds the adoption rate of ecommerce in wholesale distribution has soared, with 8.5% growth from 2021 to 2022 and from 14.2% to 15.4% of total revenue.
“We forecast a 19% increase in the percent of total revenue ecommerce makes up on average — to 18.3% of revenue in 2023,” says Distribution Strategy Group. The firm defines ecommerce adoption as a distributor accepting a single transaction from an online shopping cart.
While the rate of ecommerce adoption is increasing overall, the pace at which specific groups of distributors are becoming commerce-enabled varies widely by company size and industry.
Distribution Strategy Group findings on ecommerce adoption
For example, the Distribution Strategy Group found that about 37% of companies between $50 million and $100 million in revenue offer ecommerce. That compares with 51% of companies larger than $1 billion that do.
Less than a quarter of those with revenue less than $10 million and 27% of distributors between $10 million to $50 million in total sales allow transactions on their websites.
“Despite the lower numbers for the smaller companies, smaller distributors’ adoption is growing due to the ongoing explosion in affordable ecommerce platforms, better product data, and digital and online expertise,” the report says. “Companies in the $10 million to $50 million revenue range, for example, grew adoption by 6% from 2021. Those with less than $10 million in sales grew adoption rates by 33%.”
Among industries, the highest rate of ecommerce adoption is by janitorial and sanitation (about 60%). That compares with building supplies (about 18%).
“The JanSan sector continues to lead ecommerce adoption with 58% of companies offering ecommerce,” says Distribution Strategy Group. “Many, if not most, of the products offered in JanSan may be easily sold through ecommerce. So, it is logical this segment has high adoption. On the other end of the spectrum is Building Materials/Construction, with just 18% of companies offering ecommerce. Does that mean that building materials and construction distributors are behind the times? No. It means that the product assortment doesn’t lend itself well to a shopping cart. Building materials are much more complex and customized.”
The firm says it broke down nearly 4,000 B2B websites for the research. It also conducted an online survey that 403 participants across a variety of sectors took.
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