Online retail sales get all the attention, whereas the real digital revolution is actually happening with B2B e-commerce sales.
Global e-commerce sales
According to the latest figures from the UN’s trade and development body, UNCTAD, total e-commerce sales hit over $25 trillion globally in 2018, up 8% from 2017.
Stunningly, they estimate that the “2018 e-commerce sales value, which includes business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, was equivalent to 30% of global gross domestic product (GDP) that year”. E-commerce is set to become a significant part of all economies around the world and will have most certainly risen yet further due to the current coronavirus crisis, which will be interesting to see once those figures are released in due course.
Top countries for e-commerce sales
The value of global B2B e-commerce in 2018 was a mammoth $21 trillion, which is 83% of all e-commerce, while B2C e-commerce was only valued at over $4 trillion.
The United States continued to dominate the overall e-commerce market in 2018. It topped the list for both B2B and B2C e-commerce.
For B2B e-commerce sales, running alongside the USA were Japan and South Korea, while for B2C e-commerce sales, China was ahead, with the United Kingdom coming in third. It has to be noted that the USA and China together account for over 40% of all e-commerce sales to both consumers and businesses globally. Furthermore, three out of the top five biggest e-commerce markets are in Asia.
E-commerce sales: Top ten economies in 2018
Global B2B E-commerce Boosted by Technological Advances
Despite the USA and Asia having a stronghold over B2B e-commerce growth, research by Grand View Research shows that small and medium businesses in India, South Africa and Russia are growing at a significant rate. Initiatives in India have led to a rise in start-up businesses adopting online commerce platforms.
The same research has also noted that larger, more established global businesses are turning to digital sales having realised how much easier it is to reach a wider audience via e-commerce. In addition, the wide array of digital tools available for marketing make communication and advertising much easier and less costly than traditional methods.
E-commerce is gradually being adopted in more countries across the globe. Thanks to the widespread adoption of smartphones, the range of digital B2B models and payment solutions, B2B e-commerce is becoming even more accessible to developing countries, especially across Africa and South America.
These digital solutions are helping to reduce operational costs allowing the micro and SMEs to sell online and reach customers all over the world. This means these developing areas are expected to have substantial e-commerce growth in the next few years.
Now is the time to move to digital sales and digital marketing before your competitors do.
How We Can Help
We know it can be a daunting task to embark on your digital journey, especially as B2B e-commerce isn’t always as easy a sell as B2C in many respects. That’s where we can help.
For over 10 years we have worked with over 900 companies to start them on their international digital journeys and with our business accelerator programmes we can help you do the same. If you are ready to futureproof your organisation, find out what you could gain from joining us on one of our accelerators.
In our next article in our series on B2B E-commerce, we will focus on the explosion and growth of online sales in the business-to-business sector during 2020.