Business to Business eCommerce – A Growing Market

Business to Business Sales GrowthForrester research recently released a study that shows 9.3 percent of Business to Business (B2B) sales in 2015 will be conducted through ecommerce.  Now, 9.3% may seem small but it equals an estimated $780 billion in sales.  Nothing to sneeze at.  The report goes on to note that the trends show a growth rate of about 33% through 2020, resulting in a market just over one trillion dollars.It’s not just Forrester out there waving the B2B flag.  A presentation at this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago (IRCE#2015) showed similar trends.  Right now, 74% of the B2B market go online to research purchases. It seems corporate procurement processes are too antiquated in comparison to online shopping portals so workers are taking the path of least resistance. Right now, corporate leaders are one of the few obstacles holding back the market from truly explosive growth.  Only about 30% of major corporations surveyed say they allow direct online purchasing however, by 2017, this number is expected to grow to nearly 56%. Organizations have also gone to allowing sales personnel to use their client-facing, corporate ecommerce website to take orders from customers. (What a concept, we have been helping clients this way for years!)  So if B2B is using the web to take orders, they surely see the value of also placing orders online.The IRCE presentation also gave the following advice for companies planning B2B campaigns:

    Make sure your site is easy for the B2B end-user.  The B2B buying process is very different than what you may have in mind for consumers (B2C). Seventy-four percent of B2B buyers find web based purchasing easier and more convenient than their corporate methods.Be personal and allow clients to speak to a sales professional if needed but, keep in mind, 93% of B2B purchasers said they buy online to avoid contact with sales personnel.Like any other online endeavor, make sure you have a plan, goals and a person responsible for operating this aspect of your business.  Without leadership, this will fail.Ensure the entire personnel roster is on board, especially the “C” suite.  Without a total buy-in to the concept of B2B selling online, the endeaver will fail. Not if, but when.  “C” level officers will lose interest if you can’t produce performance numbers. Personnel in lower ranks will also jump ship if there appears to be channel conflicts that impact their compensation so be sure everyone understands how the new B2B processes work.  We don’t need the field sales team going at it with the internal phone reps! Leave that for the tug-o-war at the company picnic.

So, if you are looking for a growth area within your business, think B2B.  Find a way into that market, and get selling!


The founder of Small Business Right, Earl has owned multiple small ventures. He has experience in retail/wholesale, ecommerce, business technology, cybersecurity, business operations, mentoring and all-things small business. Over two decades of entrepreneurial experience has allowed many opportunities to share and learn about business operations in many industries and assist businesses from idea validation to succession.

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