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B2B commerce is shifting online - why?

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

B2B purchasing is increasingly going online and the US International Trade Administration forecasts that B2B ecommerce in Europe alone will reach $1.8 trillion by 2025.

What is driving this enormous shift to online purchasing?

The corona pandemic has played a key part in accelerating the shift of B2B commerce from offline sales to online sales. But this is only part of the story. The shift to B2B ecommerce started well before the corona pandemic, when firms like Alibaba and Amazon Business launched their offerings to business buyers all over the world.

The real reason for this shift is B2C ecommerce. How consumers shop has seen a huge transformation over the past 20+ years, with incredible innovations in making shopping easy, convenient and frictionless. Business buyers are also consumers, which means they know what a good purchasing and payment experience looks like.

When it comes to business purchases, business buyers need to fill in, even fax over, long registration forms and business documents, and need to wait for several days to “be onboarded” by the merchant. They might even need to meet with a sales person face-to-face before they can start ordering.

This gap between how a person shops as a consumer and as a business buyer has grown really wide. As one of our partners recently pointed out: “B2B ecommerce is like 1999 all over again!”.

What are business buyers looking for?

Speed: Buyers don’t want to wait several days before they are registered with a merchant; they want fast access to a merchant site and they want to know immediately whether they can purchase on invoice with net payment terms.

Self-service: They are also looking for a self-service purchasing experience; buyers want to be able to make purchase decisions by themselves, without having to contact a sales rep or visit a physical location.

Access: This 24/7 access argument that has been told so many times for B2C ecommerce also applies to business buyers; they want to discover and research new products, but there is little time for this during normal business hours.

Discovery: B2B ecommerce makes it really easy for business buyers to discover new products with their existing merchants or to discover completely new merchants. Business buyers can purchase from merchants they would not otherwise have found.

B2B ecommerce therefore represents a huge opportunity for B2B merchants. They can use B2B ecommerce to reduce costs, such as operating fewer physical locations, attending fewer trade fairs, and reducing the size of their sales force. B2B merchants can also use the online channel to grow; they can attract new business buyers and target new markets, existing buyers can discover new products, and they make it possible for business buyers to purchase when they have the time to do so, which might be outside of traditional working hours.

We are at the start of a dramatic transformation of B2B commerce and purchasing; B2B commerce is increasingly going online and this represents an opportunity that no business should ignore.

We are always keen to meet B2B merchants, platforms and marketplaces to learn how we can help them by going digital. Please reach out to us if you would like to discuss your needs and requirements at

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