E-commerce conquers U.S. wholesaleThe United States is one of the largest and most mature global markets in terms of B2B e-commerce adoption. In 2019, B2B e-commerce volume in the United States reached a record 6.7 trillion U.S. dollars, more than double the 3.2 trillion registered only a decade earlier. In the wholesale and distribution sectors, the online channel has gained ground vs. offline, and the trend towards digital seems unstoppable. U.S. e-commerce wholesale trade sales were worth 2.9 trillion U.S. dollars in 2019, roughly one-third 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. Online sales account for over 67 percent of U.S. manufacturing shipments, with sectors like food, transportation equipment, or machinery manufacturing outperforming other categories.
Growth potential despite drawbacksOne 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. Among other benefits, digital sales can improve customer experience and enable higher profit margins.
Third-party e-commerce solutions and online marketplaces are expected to generate the most revenue over the next years in the United States. Among the B2B platforms used to research and purchase products, Amazon Business stands out as a popular online destination for U.S. buyers. In order to drive customer demand and remain competitive within their industry, B2B professionals are further investing in the launch and optimization of e-commerce channels.
What hinders the future growth of B2B e-commerce? Almost four in ten U.S. manufacturers still struggle with their order-to-cash processes. Receiving and fulfilling online orders requires a more structured – and complex to manage – supply chain. To engage in e-commerce, manufacturers need to improve their data inventory systems and sync production, storage, and delivery schedules.