B2B e-commerce in the United States - Statistics & Facts

When talking about e-commerce, it is not only the retail sector that has taken up online selling but the manufacturing and wholesale sectors have also been generating business online with great success. In 2016, e-commerce accounted for only eight percent of retail sales in the United States but generated 32.4 percent of wholesale and almost 65 percent of manufacturing shipments.

B2B e-commerce volume in the United States amounted to 5.8 trillion U.S. dollars in 2016, up from approximately 4.4 trillion U.S. dollars in 2011. Transportation equipment manufacturing, food manufacturing, and machinery manufacturing have been performing particularly well in terms of B2B e-commerce shipments. In 2016, U.S. e-commerce wholesale trade sales were worth 2.32 trillion U.S. dollars, up from 2.29 trillion U.S. dollars in the preceding year. In 2017, it was estimated that North America accounted for 13 percent of global B2B e-commerce GMV, behind Asia and ahead of Europe and the rest of the world.

According to May 2017 findings, 67 percent of North American B2B executives strongly agreed to the importance of B2B e-commerce, considering it to be critical to their business's advantages and results in their industry, while an additional 54 percent strongly agreed in the opinion that they wished to see their company becoming a leader in digital selling within their industry as well. These survey results correlate with other industry data that highlights the importance of a B2B website – in 2018, 35 percent of respondents without a B2B e-commerce website were planning to build one in the next six months or less. With good reason, almost two thirds of B2B buyers stated that prior to completing any purchase they researched at least two to three B2B sites, while in comparison nearly a third of respondents reported that they researched at least four to seven sites before making a purchase. Despite the industry awareness of the online sales potential, there is still a lot of room for improvement: during a 2018 survey of U.S. manufacturers, 64.3 percent of respondents stated that their annual B2B e-commerce sales amounted to ten million U.S. dollars or less. Only 2.2 percent of manufacturers generated more than one billion U.S. dollars in annual B2B e-commerce sales. Overall, a strong majority of both U.S. distributors and manufacturers expect to spend more on e-commerce in the near future.

B2B marketplaces offer selling opportunities for vendors without an own website, the most important one being Amazon Business and Alibaba. Amazon’s dominance in the B2B sectors is hardly surprising, as the brand is a trusted brand with low prices and fast delivery services – features that B2B buyers have come to expect from Amazon’s retail business.

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B2B e-commerce in the United States

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