All in, B2B ecommerce grew multiple times faster than total U.S. business sales last year. And more of the same is underway, according to the all-new 2024 B2B Market and Customer Experience Report from Digital Commerce 360.
Insights from the 2024 B2B Market and Customer Experience Report
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 B2B ecommerce, which grew 17% in 2023, based on data and analysis in the forthcoming 2024 B2B Market and Customer Experience Report from Digital Commerce 360.
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. Meanwhile, 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, one aspect seems certain: The continued growth in B2B digital commerce will drive — or at least highly impact — the expansion of business sales overall in 2024.
Business buyers today use anywhere between three and 10 channels to research, negotiate and purchase goods and services from sellers. Those channels can include online, such as ecommerce sites and apps, B2B marketplaces and e-procurement, and offline, including branches and manual orders entered by sales reps.
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