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.
According to “think with Google,” the way B2B customers conduct research has changed as well. Purchase rates of B2B customers on mobile devices has raised 22 percent in the past two years. Online shoppers in general have become accustomed to their preferred e-commerce websites providing a multi-channel approach. B2B e-commerce empowers buyers by giving them the convenience of researching and purchasing from anywhere 24/7. The internet has changed not only how consumers buy products but how they research them and interact with brands.
Businesses can cut costs by shifting their B2B business more into the e-commerce realm. According to Forrester, Coca-Cola reduced their average cost-per-interaction by 85 percent by moving offline B2B customers online. Thanks to the Internet, consumers now have more information and options for purchasing than ever. Online catalogs provide a new purchasing platform for consumers, either integrating with an existing e-commerce platform or providing an order form that’s then sent to the company’s sales team upon completion.