E-Commerce’s Better-than-Expected Boom
While U.S. B2B e-commerce sales reached $1.7 trillion in 2021, Forrester Research has revised its forecasts, with volume expected to exceed $2 trillion in 2023 and $3 trillion by 2027.
Forrester also expects U.S. B2B e-commerce to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 10.7 percent, accounting for 24 percent of all U.S. B2B sales by 2027. That’s up from just 16 percent in 2021 and a projected 17 percent in 2022.
At the same time, the share of offline sales in total B2B sales will decline from 63 percent this year to 55 percent in 2027, according to Forrester’s projections.
Joe Cicman, senior analyst for digital transformation at Forrester, points out that when his firm published its original U.S. B2B e-commerce forecast in 2019, expectations were that it would hit $1.8 trillion by 2023. COVID-19 accelerated things, and by the end of 2021, B2B e-commerce had reached $1.7 trillion.
U.S. B2B e-commerce sales saw recording-breaking growth in 2021. After a decline of 6.5 percent year-over-year in 2020, sales rebounded strongly in 2021 with a growth of 22 percent, the highest growth to date, according to Forrester’s research.
“The growth rate of e-commerce is translating into large absolute dollars,” Cicman maintains. “In five years, offline B2B sales will essentially have remained flat, and electronic data interchange (EDI) will have gained modestly, for a combined [$600 billion]. By contrast, B2B e-commerce will have grown by $1.37 trillion.”
The growing sales are concentrated largely in four key areas, according to the data. Pharmaceuticals, including sundries, medicines, herbs, and medical products, topped the list with $372 billion in total sales, followed by groceries, electrical and electronic goods, and cars and car parts. Together, these four verticals accounted for a total of 60 percent of the total U.S. B2B e-commerce market.
“It’s time to take another look at your B2B digital strategy,” Cicman states. “Are you positioned to sell the way customers are projected to transact over the next five years?”