The total volume of all U.S. B2B sales boils down to how B2B buyers and sellers coped and changed with the online times in 2020.
The past 12 months have accelerated what many ecommerce analysts see as a permanent shift in the way business customers source products and services for their business. This is evident from data and analytics included in Digital Commerce 360’s newly released 2021 B2B E-Commerce Market Report.
There was literally a feeding frenzy for businesses, especially small to medium sized businesses, to meet digital customer demand or start over.
Brian Beck, managing partner
In the future, more business customers will shop less by phone, fax and manual transactions and more online. “If you had any doubts about the validity and speed of your customers adopting online solutions, 2020 was the answer,” said Dave Gravely, vice president of e-commerce for State Electric Supply Co., a 67-year-old regional electrical distributor. Data communication and energy transmission products.
In the past year, total B2B electronic sales (including e-commerce and EDI) grew 9.6%, but not as fast as the double-digit increase seen in previous years. According to Digital Commerce 360’s 2021 B2B Ecommerce Market Report, B2B ecommerce website revenue increased 10% from $ 1.26 trillion in 2019 to $ 1.39 trillion.
In 2020, B2B sellers saw a significant increase in demand for digital commerce distribution channels from B2B buyers as the global pandemic began closing traditional distribution channels such as sales offices last spring.
A “feeding frenzy” to meet the demand of digital customers
“Businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, have literally had a feeding frenzy to meet digital customer demand or start over,” said Brian Beck, managing partner of Enceiba, an agency that helps manufacturers and brands sell on Amazon .com and Amazon Business.
While B2B ecommerce sales grew overall, growth in many industries was very uneven, largely driven by the impact of COVID-19 on specific markets. Overall, a survey in January 2021 of 110 B2B sellers of various sizes found that many companies closed 2020 with good growth in B2B e-commerce sales.
The survey found that 62% of businesses saw ecommerce sales increase by at least 25% over the past year, including 12% that increased sales by more than 75%.
However, metrics from Bloomreach Inc., a developer of personalization applications, paint a different picture. A data sample from Bloomreach B2B customers shows that total digital sales fell 2.3% year over year and conversion rates (the number of website visitors who make a purchase) fell by almost 30%. Bloomreach didn’t come up with any specific numbers.
“We believe the traffic and search traffic is due to heavy traffic wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but overall sales have declined due to the entire business cycle. Many B2B customers have been hit by the pandemic and lockdowns for restaurants, schools, offices and other locations, says Brian Walker, chief marketing officer and e-commerce analyst at Bloomreach.
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