2023 is in the rear-view mirror for B2B buyers and sellers. And what lies ahead for both sides of the business equation for ecommerce in 2024 is growth — but with a big caveat.
There would be plenty of growth ahead in B2B ecommerce, even if the overall business market for manufacturing and distribution ended the year in a deep freeze. In 2023, the combined sales of U.S. manufacturers and distribution companies were flat at $14.87 trillion. That’s in sharp contrast to how buyers and sellers ended 2022, when total B2B sales grew 15%.
How will the B2B ecommerce market look in 2024?
But high interest rates, nervous consumers and businesses tightening spending based on a prediction of a hard (or soft) recession, along with other factors such as lingering supply chain issues, put the brakes on business growth in 2023.
Manufacturing sales grew just 3%, totaling $6.82 trillion in the last 12 months compared with $6.59 trillion in the prior year. In comparison, distributors fared even worse, with combined sales that declined by about 3% to $8.04 trillion from $8.26 trillion in 2022.
The market for B2B products and services is expected to rebound in 2024, with many economists forecasting the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) to grow between 1.6% and 2%.
“The expectation of below-trend real GDP growth in 2024 results in forecasts for slower — but still positive — job growth and a modest increase in the unemployment rate,” says a Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis report.
But regardless of how the overall American business economy performs in the year ahead, there are a couple of certainties: The continued growth in B2B digital commerce will drive — or at least highly impact — the expansion of business sales overall in 2024.
In 2023, B2B ecommerce once again grew at a healthy rate and in line with previous years.
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