A Forrester Research report released today projects U.S. manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors will sell $780 million to other companies via the web this year, and that growth is accelerating. Many business buyers prefer to shop online and sellers can cut costs by serving them via the web, Forrester says.
Retail e-commerce may still be sexier, but B2B is where the biggest sales and growth figures are.
In a report released today, Forrester Research Inc. forecasts that business-to-business e-commerce sales in the United States will reach $780 billion this year—more than twice the most recent figure of $304.91 billion in U.S. retail e-commerce sales released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, for 2014—and is on course to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.7% until it reaches $1.13 trillion in 2020.
The growth will be driven largely by “channel-shifting” B2B buyers who are buying more online than through phone and other offline channels, and the opportunity for manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors to cut operating costs by processing more sales to customers through self-service e-commerce sites and electronic processing of orders, Forrester says in the report, “US B2B eCommerce Forecast: 2015 to 2020.”
Forrester points to “key categories” that are driving the most growth. It says petroleum and petroleum products, and drugs and pharmacy sundries account for the largest share of U.S. B2B e-commerce sales today and will continue in the lead in 2020. But it says the fastest-growing categories over the next five years will be such durable goods as motor vehicles, and motor vehicle parts and supplies; electrical and electronics products; and industrial machinery, equipment and supplies.
“B2B buyer behavior has changed dramatically in the recent years,” Forrester says in the report, which was authored by e-business analyst Andy Hoar along with other Forrester analysts. “Both professional and non-professional B2B buyers are now taking a digital-first approach to discovering and making purchases.”