Business-to-business e-commerce is going strong

April 7, 2015

E-commerce is not just about retailers selling products to consumers. Digital sales platforms also facilitate business-to-business transactions.

E-commerce is not just about retailers selling products to consumers. Digital sales platforms also facilitate business-to-business transactions. Whether it is a company looking to buy supplies for itself, or a procurer looking to purchase stock inventory in bulk, e-commerce transactions offer convenience and scale. In the next few years, B2B e-commerce transactions are poised to represent a significant share of all business payment activity. 

A large percentage of business-to-business transactions will be digital
Forrester Research predicted that by 2020, over 12 percent of all transactions between businesses, worth $1.1 trillion, will be conducted through digital platforms, reported Fortune. This year, B2B transactions are expected to reach $780 billion, which shows that the forecasts are not far away. Interestingly, two industries that will see substantial growth are pharmaceuticals and electronic goods, with approximately 20 percent of all B2B sales in those categories going through digital channels.

“B2B buyers are now expecting [business-to-consumer]-like customer experiences online, and they’re growing increasingly impatient with B2B sellers that don’t provide it,” Forrester wrote, according to the news source. “They are also actively shifting their transaction volume from single channel offline environments to ‘omnichannel’ and online-only environments.”

Fortune also noted, as per the report, that the main incentive to go digital is expense reduction, however, improving supplier relations was another important reason.

“In fact, 60 percent of B2B companies report that their B2B buyers spend more overall when these customers interact with multiple channels,” the research said.

Professional buyers like the convenience of online platforms
PYMNTS, also noting the Forrester report, discussed how 74 percent of B2B buyers conduct half of their purchasing research online. As previously mentioned, the main incentive for B2B transactions is cost reduction. Therefore, it is not usual to discover that online purchasing generates significant savings. E-commerce offers competitive pricing and those discounts, when compounded, add up in a big way. Additionally, because online sales do not require payment of commissions, business can save themselves lots of capital in the long run.

Another important piece of information contained in the Forrester report is how 60 percent of B2B sellers find that omnichannel buyers spend more than their single channel counterparts. They are also more likely to become repeat and long-term customers. Omnichannel buyers are diligent and do their research. Accordingly, if they presented with good deals, they will continue to send business that way. Forrester Analyst Andy Hoar noted the different types of B2B buyers.

“There are two types of B2B buyers,” said Hoar, according to PYMNTS. “You have empowered end users who buy their own travel, printer toner for their home office, etc., and charge it back to the company. Then you have professional buyers – procurement buyers – who are buying in mass. The professional buyers are using e-procurement systems from companies like SAP and Ariba, and they have gotten better.” 

E-commerce is not just for shopping, it empowers businesses too
Fortune explained that an explosion in online selling between businesses is likely to happen because e-commerce platforms and systems offer many operational efficiencies. Because buyers can source products easily, find discounts and compare deals, they are empowered to make more decisions online and purchase through digital channels.

E-commerce is not just about consumers shopping through retailer catalogs. Technology offers businesses the opportunity to improve their existing operations and capitalize on efficiencies in the marketplace. Any company that purchases inventory on a regular basis should explore digital avenues for sourcing products. Perhaps the best deals are only a few clicks away. 

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