Forrester-Research-Inc.-logoBusiness-to-business (B2B) e-Commerce sales will top $1 trillion by 2020 and account for 12% of the total $9.39 trillion B2B sales in the United States, according to Forrester’s inaugural five-year B2B e-Commerce forecast.

This estimate represents an 8% compound annual growth rate over the next five years, with B2B sales reaching $780 billion by the end of this year, Forrester said. Channel-shifting B2B buyers and the desire by B2B companies to reduce their costs to serve clients will largely drive the growth.

At present, 74% of B2B buyers research at least half of their work purchases online, the firm said. This shift in behavior combined with the cost savings gained by moving to a self-serve e-Commerce environment demonstrates why a significant volume of offline business will move online in the next few years. In addition, 30% of today’s B2B buyers complete at least half of their work purchases online. With that percentage expected to nearly double to 56% by 2017, B2B sellers will see a significant volume of offline business move online in the next few years.

B2B companies report cutting costs dramatically by migrating customers they serve to online platforms. In addition, the survey says, 56% of B2B e-Commerce executives said they can only profitably support some customers by doing so online.

“B2B buyers are now expecting B2C-like customer experiences online, and they’re growing increasingly impatient with B2B sellers that don’t provide it,” the forecast states. B2B firms must build their digital savvy and fast—or else risk losing market share to the online competition, the firm said.  “Omni-channel customers spend more than single-channel, offline-only customers,” Forrester said. “For example, 60% of B2B companies report that their B2B buyers spend more overall when those customers interact with multiple channels. Omni-channel B2B customers are also more likely to become repeat and long-term customers.”

Source:  Courtesy Diana Mota, NACM Associate Editor