The Growth of B2B E-Commerce
Most of us are familiar with business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce, but business-to-business (B2B) is also picking up in popularity, and increasingly has become a greater revenue generator than its B2C counterpart. B2B e-commerce allows businesses to sell products and services to other businesses via online sales portals like RecycleBlu.com . While the practice is relatively new, customers and sellers alike often find that the B2B e-commerce experience is far more efficient than more traditional manual telephone, email, or in-person sales transactions.
As 2017 approaches, ecommerce for B2B is a trend worth keeping an eye on. By 2020, B2B e-commerce is projected to reach $6.7 trillion in worldwide sales, or 27% of all B2B sales. That’s twice the size of projected B2C e-commerce sales. In the United States alone, B2B sales are projected to be at $1.1 trillion. Companies are racing to take part in those profits. One recent survey found that 86% of B2B companies offer some form of online sales portal.
Why is this trend picking up pace so quickly? Thanks to the ease and convenience provided by B2C retail giants like Amazon and Alibaba, business customers are increasingly expecting a similar experience in their B2B dealings as well. On a global scale, more and more companies are buying and selling online for all types of transactions, and the internet makes it easier than ever before to research and find companies with whom to do business. A customer who is using the internet to find companies expects to be able to do business online as well.
The rapid growth of mobile and cloud-based technology makes this type of business even more possible, fast, and accurate. With such rapid changes in the e-commerce landscape for both B2B and B2C transactions, the truth may be that companies that can provide a B2B e-commerce experience will have an edge on those that don’t, especially in the coming years.
What’s the benefit to B2B ecommerce? It’s faster than traditional types of business transactions, and allows businesses to interact with one another around the globe, with little to no face-to-face contact required. Many businesses find that switching to an e-commerce model actually saves money in costs relating to customer support. Cloud-based platforms allow sellers to outsource the development and management of their systems and invest their time and money in other ways.
Today’s businesses need to compete on more levels than just price and availability. Customers expect a fast online experience, looking for convenience and ease of use as well as quality products and fair pricing. Customers may be more willing to form loyalties with businesses that can provide the type of dependable e-commerce service they’re looking for. In fact, as ecommerce grows, companies that don’t take part may lose their competitive advantage, especially as e-commerce becomes the norm rather than a trend. For most, just having an online sales portal may not be enough. Systems that are homegrown or decades old may not have kept up with the speed and convenience of more modern cloud-based offerings, or the expectations of B2B customers.
Many companies have already committed to ecommerce. This is illustrated not only by an increasing number of online sales portals, but also by the number of companies that are doing away with old methods of doing business. Many companies have ceased mailing print catalogs in favor of online catalogs, for example. Storefronts, catalog management, payment methods, sales management and other factors are also made faster, cheaper, and more convenient in a digital world. B2B e-commerce is here to stay, and as customers begin to expect a convenient online-only experience, companies that aren’t providing this type of experience may find it difficult to compete in today’s changing global marketplace.