B2B ecommerce spending is now dwarfing that of B2C ecommerce, with sales hitting $7.7 trillion in 2017 compared to B2C’s $2.3 trillion in sales. That’s a 235% difference in market size.
But when it comes to spending within the B2B ecommerce sector, how are manufacturers and distributors faring? According to Forrester Research, US manufacturers reached $889 billion in B2B ecommerce sales in 2017, that’s 11% of total B2B sales in the US.
Here are some additional, key findings on manufacturer and distributor ecommerce spending from B2BecNews’ 2018 E-Commerce and Manufacturing Survey.
B2BecNews surveyed 135 manufacturers and 127 distributors. They found that dealers, distributors, and wholesalers are farther along in adopting B2B ecommerce, with 38% of manufacturers and more than 60% of distributors currently selling through ecommerce sites.
Those that don’t currently have ecommerce sites plan on adding one, with 70% of manufacturing companies and 80% of distributors planning to do so in the next two years or less.
What’s more, both distributors (84%) and manufacturers (79%) expect to spend more on ecommerce in 2019, with the majority planning to increase spending by 10.1 to 25%. That’s because both see ecommerce as a key driver of new customers and sales.
And these decisions aren’t being made by middle management, but at the top, with the majority of ecommerce decisions being made by CEOs, Presidents or General Managers, followed by CMOs, SVPs, and VPs of Marketing.
A Closer Look at Manufacturers
When looking more closely at the survey findings pertaining to manufacturers, we see that 80% of manufacturers are expecting to spend more on their ecommerce operations in 2018, with 61% planning to increase spending on B2B website operations by 10.1 to 50%.
Their top ecommerce priorities are overwhelmingly, at 81%, to increase online sales, followed by increasing traffic to their ecommerce sites (42%), and increasing their site conversion rates (34%).
But what stands in the way to achieving their ecommerce goals? At 57%, the majority of manufacturers named a lack of funds as the biggest challenge in building their ecommerce businesses.
So how can those manufacturers and distributors with the budget to increase ecommerce spending, responsibly and effectively do so?
Solutions like modern CPQ applications can make successful B2B ecommerce possible by handling extremely complex configurations, delivering data-driven guided buying, connecting disparate data sources, offering dynamic visualization, and allowing for omnichannel co-creation of solutions.
One of the ways in which CPQ solutions do this is through the use of a configurator, which:
- Offers the entire spectrum of solutions built from individual components
- Determines how the product is going to be used
- Guides the user to the ideal offering through a sequence of questions
- Makes suggestions based on the user’s requirements
- Offers 2D or 3D visualizations
- Connects users with a salesperson or vendor if they require additional help
Manufacturers that use such CPQ solutions as part of their ecommerce strategies are able to deliver optimal self-service experiences to their end-users and are seeing results, like higher margins and more revenue.