The United States is one of the largest and most mature global markets in terms of B2B e-commerce adoption. While the Asia-Pacific region remains the leading player with regard to market size and value, the North American market, spearheaded by the U.S., is experiencing the highest growth worldwide. In 2018, it was estimated that North America accounted for 12 percent of global B2B e-commerce GMV, behind Asia and ahead of Europe and the rest of the world. That year, B2B e-commerce volume in the United States amounted to 6.65 trillion U.S. dollars – up from 3.48 trillion only a decade earlier.
One of the main reasons for this fast-paced market growth in the U.S. revolves around the changing needs and expectations of B2B buyers. Today’s B2B clients are gradually shifting away from traditional forms of buying and increasingly conducting corporate purchases online. According to a 2018 survey, a majority of B2B buyers in the United States researched at least two B2B websites prior to completing any purchase, highlighting the ever-increasing importance of online visibility for businesses. Among the different platforms used to research and purchase B2B products, marketplaces such as Amazon Business stand out as the leading destinations for U.S. buyers. In order to drive customer demand and remain competitive within their industry, B2B professionals are continuously investing in the launch and optimization of e-commerce channels. In 2019, 80 percent of distributors and manufacturers planned on increasing their spending on e-commerce solutions.
Looking at the distribution of online vs. offline sales figures in the wholesale and distribution sectors, a clear trend towards digital is becoming apparent. In 2018, U.S. e-commerce wholesale trade sales were worth 2.64 trillion U.S. dollars and accounted for approximately 32.3 percent of total wholesale shipments. E-commerce sales were particularly high for wholesale product segments like motor vehicles and automotive equipment,groceries and related products, as well as household appliances and electrical goods. While a great number of wholesalers in the United States are already embracing digital processes, the overall share of e-commerce sales is even higher among manufacturers. In 2018, online sales accounted for over 67 percent of U.S. manufacturing shipments, with sectors like food, transportation equipment, or machinery manufacturing performing particularly well. As the digital placement and processing of orders continue to improve efficiency among manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and other types of B2B sellers, e-commerce will undoubtedly shape the future of B2B transactions and the B2B market as a whole.