2020 was a year unlike any other in B2B ecommerce—the global coronavirus pandemic made sure of that.
Every digital sales channel from websites and apps to EDI and B2B marketplaces changed, and the pace of development and rollout accelerated, according to data and analysis contained in the 2021 B2B Ecommerce Market Report from Digital Commerce 360.
There was literally a feeding frenzy for companies, especially small to midsized companies, to catch up to the demand from digital customers.
Brian Beck, managing partner
As traditional sales channels were closed entirely or partly because of the economic wallop from COVID-19, the demand for more digital tools and services from business customers grew exponentially.
B2B digital sales head toward $10 trillion
The value of transactions through B2B digital sales channels—including e-procurement, electronic data interchange (EDI) and other channels in addition to ecommerce sites—increased by 9.6% to $9.92 trillion in 2020 from $9.06 trillion in 2019.
In 2020, B2B sellers saw a significant increase in demand for digital commerce sales channels from B2B buyers. The global pandemic began to shut down traditional sales channels like distribution branches last spring.
“There was literally a feeding frenzy for companies, especially small to midsized companies, to catch up to the demand from digital customers, or start from scratch,” says Brian Beck, managing partner of Enceiba, an agency that helps manufacturers and brands sell through Amazon.com and Amazon Business.
But while B2B ecommerce sales grew overall, the growth was highly uneven across many industries, depending in large measure upon the impact COVID-19 had on specific markets, according to the 2021 B2B Ecommerce Market Report.
As 2021 kicked off, many companies began the year about in the same place they ended in 2020: coming to grips with continued big swings in monthly and quarterly ecommerce sales.
Significant gyrations in sales
A case in point is Sustainable Supply. Sustainable Supply is an online distributor of more than 1 million products ranging from building materials and plumbing supplies to equipment that companies use to maintain, repair, and operate their facilities.
Launched in 2009 with the website SustainableSupply.com, it also operates the B2B ecommerce sites EyewashDirect.com and PortableHandwashing.com and sells through Amazon and other online marketplaces. CEO Brian Fricano knows how to build and sustain a well-run ecommerce operation.
But like for many B2B sellers, 2020 was a year unlike any other with significant gyrations in sales, which, in turn, made it difficult to forecast growth online, if any, for 2021. “2020 was a roller-coaster year to put it moderately—we experienced a record amount of traffic, conversions, and new customer acquisitions in the second and third quarter,” he says. “This was followed by one of our worst-performing quarters in recent years in the fourth quarter as many of our customers were experiencing shutdowns, layoffs and reduced capacities.”
For more information on the 2021 B2B Ecommerce Market Report click here.
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