The Shifting Sands of B2B Ecommerce

Business to Business (B2B) E-commerce is booming.

It is estimated that in the US alone, B2B E-commerce will top $1.13 Trillion within 5 years.

This sudden growth spurt is a result of 'channel-shifting' behaviour among B2B buyers who are buying more online than over the phone or from offline channels. This in turn has allowed manufacturers and distributors to cut operational costs by focusing on 'self-serve' Ecommerce development, rather than costly sales teams and call centers.

In a report earlier this year, research group Forrester says petroleum products, drugs and pharmacy sundries currently account for the largest share of US B2B Ecommerce sales. But it predicts that the fastest-growing categories over the next few years will be durable goods, such as motor vehicles, parts and supplies; electrical and electronics products; and industrial machinery.

Forrester says in the report:

“B2B buyer behaviour has changed dramatically in the recent years. Both professional and non-professional B2B buyers are now taking a digital-first approach to discovering and making purchases.”

This is not a trend isolated to the US either. All over the world, from UK to the Middle East, B2B Ecommerce is becoming the primary channel and Redbox Digital is delivering B2B sites on Magento Enterprise Edition.

Redbox's Jonty Sutton thinks that it is a trend that will continue:

We have several clients who are doing B2B Ecommerce including Alexandra Workwear who sell work-wear and uniforms. In our Dubai office, we know that there is demand for B2B sites in the GCC region and Saudi Arabia for sites selling everything from commercial kitchen supplies to printer cartridges. The increase in SOHO and SME businesses also means that consumables like coffee cartridges and  phones are bought online by time poor entrepreneurs.

So why is the industry moving away from trusted paths, and adopting B2B Ecommerce? One explanation that B2B buyers are being hired younger and younger, with Google research demonstrating that 72% of B2B buyers in the market today are under 40. The modern business buyer is familiar with digital first, their personal B2C experiences has altered the way they view the buying process. Traditional buying conventions - brand loyalty, personal interactions, person-to-person service, take a second seat to affordability, desirability and ease/efficiency of delivery.

Whatever the reason, the landscape has shifted for B2B, and business enterprises need to alter their style to adapt to a new, younger B2B buyer. Customer service remains a priority, but Ecommerce conventions of the B2C market must be carried across if B2B is to remain appealing. Particularly in the wake of the recent launch of Amazon's own B2B marketplace.