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B2B ecommerce will account for a projected 16% of all manufacturing and distribution sales this year, according to Digital Commerce 360.

After only what can be called a lousy 2023 sales year for U.S. manufacturing and distribution, things are slowly looking up in 2024. And the comeback will be driven mostly by B2B ecommerce and transformation.

In 2024, B2B ecommerce sales will increase by 16% and total $2.641 trillion, up from $2.276 trillion in 2023, based on a projection from Digital Commerce 360.

B2B ecommerce will also account for a projected 16% of all manufacturing and distribution sales this year, compared with 15.3% in 2023, according to a Digital Commerce 360 estimate.

B2B ecommerce boosts manufacturing and distribution sales

Growth was slow in the first several months of the year. In February 2024, U.S. manufacturing activity expanded for the first time in 16 months, with new manufacturing orders at $576.76 billion. That’s up 1.44% from January. The combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for February 2024 was estimated at $1.866 billion, up 1.6% from January 2024, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.


February 2024 sales of merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers’ sales branches and offices, were $901.1 billion, up 2.3% from $896.5 billion in January, according to the Department of Commerce.

Many B2B companies see a slow but steady build to their sales this year with the catalyst for growth being ecommerce. A case in point is W.W. Grainger, the biggest public distributor of maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) products.

For the first quarter, W.W. Grainger Inc. reported moderate first-quarter growth in total and web-only sales. Still, it expects stronger growth ahead, president and CEO D.G. Macpherson said on a recent earnings call.

“Amid a slow but steady demand environment,” Grainger produced “solid results,” he said.


Grainger’s web-only Endless Assortment business — composed of Zoro.com and Japan-based MonotaRo.com — posted a 3.7% sales increase to $751 million.

By comparison, Grainger’s High-Touch Solutions segment — which includes the full-service sales through Grainger.com and the company’s sales team — grew 3.4% to $3.405 billion. Grainger is a prominent distributor of maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) products that businesses need to operate their facilities. Total net sales gained 3.5% to $4.235 billion.

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Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week. It covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact Mark Brohan, senior vice president of B2B and Market Research, at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @markbrohan. Follow us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and YouTube