Anyone working at a business-to-business (B2B) company today is aware of the recent rise of e-commerce in this sector.
While business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce continues to grow steadily, online B2B sales are on a steeper upward trajectory. In 2018, B2B e-commerce sales exceeded $1 trillion for the first time, Internet Retail estimates, and Forrester expects that number to climb to $1.8 trillion over the next four years. While launching a B2B e-commerce channel requires a lot of time and a substantial budget, opening this channel could more than make up for the investment.
At the same time, online-only retailers may want to start selling their products through large brick-and-mortar retailers -- after all, in-store purchases still account for close to 85% of all retail sales.* For e-commerce companies, making products available through third-party stores and other e-commerce sites can unlock a level of growth that's difficult to achieve selling only through one site. This type of wholesale distribution remains a critical, if overlooked, channel, especially for brands that came of age online.
As customer expectations continue to change in both the B2B and B2C worlds, selling through multiple channels is increasingly a requirement rather than an option. Businesses that ignore these forces, which shape buying behavior, face an increasing risk of losing customers and potentially their businesses.
To assist organizations embarking on either of these business journeys, we’ll walk through the timelines of two fictional organizations: one preparing to launch a B2B e-commerce site, and another that has exclusively sold online and is trying to break into retail distribution. Their project milestones span five fiscal years, though some companies may move faster or slower in real life. Check it out: