Recently, CEO of W.W. Grainger D.G. Macpherson, one of the largest B2B companies in the U.S., predicted 80 percent of their sales will occur through online channels by 2020, according to Industrial Distribution. E-commerce as a whole has grown for the company, accounting for 41 percent of their total sales in 2015 and 60 percent in 2016.
Search engine optimization (SEO) has become increasingly important for e-commerce businesses as a method of increasing organic growth and traffic to their site. SEO, as described by Search Engine Land, is "the process of getting traffic from the 'free,' 'organic,' 'editorial' or 'natural' search results on search engines." SEO is seen as an alternative method from paid online advertising that delivers a higher return on investment.
About 22 percent of Internet users in the U.S. used an online version of a printed yellow pages service in the past month, according to a 2017 study conducted on behalf of Local Search Association (LSA). The amount hadn't fluctuated since the survey was also conducted in 2015, when 23 percent of U.S. Internet users fell into that category. Internet yellow pages (IYP), such as Dirxion's Local Search, accounted for 27 percent of the respondents in 2016 and 28 percent in 2015.
The B2B e-commerce market is estimated to be worth roughly $1.1 trillion by 2021,according to predictions from Forrester Research. The market is at an inflection point, driven by the changing preferences of the B2B customer. According to the same Forrester study, 74 percent of B2B buyers research half or more of their work purchases online before buying. The number of customers who make half or more of their work purchases online is expected to increase 26 percent in 2017. It's also seen as more convenient to purchase online — 93 percent of B2B buyers prefer to buy online when they've decided what to buy.
Online shoppers have become accustomed to an interactive and convenient shopping experience. Design has since become a foundation of online catalogs, reflecting the fluid and integrated nature of e-commerce. Dirxion implemented polygon linking to change how consumers interacted with online catalogs and the ways in which Dirxion customers can deliver their product.
The goals of websites have now gone beyond plain functionality in the current day and age of the Internet. The standard for websites is now based on a user-centered design, focusing on ease-of-use in order to build a website that's both efficient and intuitive. Web users now expect a seamless, easy-to-use browsing experience that delivers on a consistent basis.
In the highly competitive online shopping market, large corporations have made high-quality web design an industry standard. Because of the connected nature of the Internet, consumers are more likely to switch to a competitor if their preferred brand has a subpar web experience.
The print catalog market has been slowly recovering following its decline during the recession. As reported in The New York Times, the number of catalogs mailed in 2013 increased to 11.9 billion, 60 percent of what it was in 2007. Many businesses are discovering increasing care in print catalogs has resulted in a boost in online sales. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company Bonobos discovered 20 percent of their new customers place orders after receiving a catalog. Customers who received the catalog also spent 1.5 times longer shopping as opposed to customers who didn't.
As reported by Digital Commerce 360, MSC Industrial attended the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition June 6-9. Senior Director of E-Commerce Mike Roth discussed the company's balance between investing in the digital shopping experience while still retaining a personal customer service experience. The article points out MSC's high ranking (72/300) on the 2017 B2B e-commerce 300, a list of high-profile B2B companies that represent 72 percent of B2B e-commerce sales in the U.S.
Growth in the e-commerce market has given customers a variety of avenues to acquire their favorite products. For businesses, however, it's hard to analyze exactly where their sales come from and whether or not an online and brick-and-mortar presence can be mutually beneficial to future growth.