These 7 Stats Reveal the Increasing Importance of B2B Ecommerce [B2B Beat]

August 14, 2016

A new report from eMarketer, “B2B Ecommerce: Working Toward a Seamless Customer Experience,” called the B2B ecommerce in the U.S. “a growing but immature market.” For marketers, B2B ecommerce represents both a huge opportunity and an onerous necessity. The ubiquity of Amazon and other consumer ecommerce experiences has set a high bar for B2B ecommerce sites, which already face complex backend difficulties such as volume discounts and customized payment agreements.

The following 7 stats, most of them gleaned from the new eMarketer report, show just how important B2B ecommerce is becoming and just how difficult it may for companies to implement. 

1.1 Trillion

B2B ecommerce is big. This year, Forrester Research projects that that B2B ecommerce in the United States will total $855 billion. By 2020, it will reach $1.1 trillion by 2020, when it will account for 12 percent of all U.S. B2B sales.


While B2B ecommerce is growing, many B2B marketers acknowledge that their ecommerce platforms could be improved. Only 21 percent of B2B professionals agree that their company’s ecommerce is available “anytime, anywhere,” according to a study by Econsultancy.


The use of B2B ecommerce by buyers is increasing steadily. By 2018, 53 percent of B2B buyers say they will make half of their work-related purchases via ecommerce. In 2015, that figure was just 32 percent. The ubiquity of Amazon and Amazon-like digital retail experiences is helping drive this increased usage. eMarketer calls it the “Amazon effect.” More than 90 percent of B2B buyers used Amazon to research purchases for work, and 82 percent actually made a purchase via Amazon, according to eMarketer. It’s more evidence that B2B ecommerce must strive to match the customer experience provided by consumer ecommerce companies. “We’re so far into the post-Amazon consumer mindset that we have those expectations in our business lives,” Glen Coates, CEO of Handshake, a B2B ecommerce platform, told eMarketer. 


Just 12 percent of Millennials say that their first choice in researching products and services is consulting a salesperson, according to a poll by Sacunas, a B2B marketing agency. At the same time, 45 percent of Millennials prefer search or websites to research business purchases. The message is that Millennials are far more comfortable with digital, and they are the buyers of the future. “Millennial buyers grew up in a world where Google is their research source and Amazon is their mall. There’s no way they’re going to purchase via the traditional mechanism of an email or a phone,” David Barr, co-founder and executive vice president of Lyons Consulting Group, told eMarketer.


The backend of B2B ecommerce is complex, because B2B sales typically offers prices determined by contract or volume. But research showed that B2B ecommerce companies are making headway in this area. Seventy-four percent of B2B ecommerce marketers are using tiered pricing on their websites, but implementing such complex systems isn’t easy. “Roughly three-quarters of B2B professionals worldwide surveyed by Econsultancy/SAP Hybris said providing customized catalogs, offers and prices was a challenge of their ecommerce offering, with nearly 30 percent calling it a major obstacle,” the eMarketer report concluded. 


B2B marketers using ecommerce are making strides to keep pace with the experiences provided by retail ecommerce sites. In search function, 70.3 percent of B2B ecommerce marketers filter by price, which trails their retail counterparts by only about one percentage point, according to study from Multichannel Merchant. In many case, B2B ecommerce is farther along than convention wisdom would hold. For instance, the same study found that 52.8 percent of B2B ecommerce sites were mobile optimized, which outshines the mobile readiness of retail sites: Only 51.1 percent of them were mobile optimized. eMarketer found that retail Mcommerce — mobile ecommerce — is poised for hockey stick growth. In 2016, retail Mcommerce sales in the U.S. are projected to reach $130.9 billion on 46.8 percent growth. By 2020, Mcommerce retails sales are anticipated to reach $294.2 billion, wich would account for 43 percent of overall retail sales in the U.S.   


According to AddShoppers, the average order value of a buyer referred by LinkedIn to an ecommerce site is $183.27. That figure trails only StumbleUpon, which delivers an average order value of $192.26. The average order value for other social media platforms: Twitter ($160.09), Pinterest ($138.59), and Facebook ($115.41).  

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