Eighty percent. That’s the proportion of B2B sales that will be transacted digitally by 2025, according to The Ultimate B2B E-commerce Guide: Tradition Is Out. Digital Is In.a new whitepaper from DHL Express. Given where B2B sales were a decade ago and even compared to the explosive growth of consumer e-commerce – it’s still a staggering figure.

Here’s another: The volume of global B2B e-commerce is predicted to reach USD 20.9 trillion by 2027.  In 2019, the total was USD 12.2 trillion.

How is B2B eclipsing B2C e-commerce in terms of growth and total market share? If you sell to business customers, or make purchases for your company, you need to understand the trends so you can maximize results for your organization.  Here’s what’s driving the growth in B2B digital sales.

Technology Is Driving Change

Although B2B purchasing is more complex than consumer transactions, technology has helped companies save time and money by simplifying the procurement process.  Previously, B2B transactions involved layers of person-to-person interactions and complex internal processes. But procedures and expectations have been changing, even before the pandemic supercharged both B2C and B2B e-commerce.  By 2019, global sales on B2B e-commerce sites reached $12.2 trillion, up from only $5.8 trillion in 2013.  New technology platforms are behind this 110% growth that now allows for custom pricing, personalized products and transaction systems – even customized storefronts for regular purchasers.

The Pandemic Put B2B into Overdrive

With lockdowns and social distancing radically altering consumer shopping behaviors, online global transactions grew to $4 billion in 2020.  B2B e-commerce also experienced similar pandemic-driven activity as business travel and in-person meetings were curtailed.  Despite inconsistent performance across sectors and pandemic-related overall business declines in business, B2B sales were still up a healthy 10%. According to a report by McKinsey, more than 75% of buyers and sellers say they now prefer digital channels over face-to-face interactions.  Although social distancing was initially the reason, now only 20% of B2B buyers say they’ll return to in-person sales. Clearly, e-commerce and remote interactions are here to stay.

Millennials Represent a Critical Force

As the DHL Express Whitepaper explains, the technology-oriented millennials are starting to make their mark on B2B e-commerce. As digital natives, millennials make 73% of all professional B2B purchasing decisions so they expect robust, digital, B2B solutions that match their experiences in the B2C world.   After all, business buyers also research products and shop online.

Logistics Solutions Are Advancing

At DHL Express, we have experienced the B2B e-commerce revolution firsthand, and we’re currently implementing innovative, global logistics solutions to respond.  DHL Express delivered a total of 484 million combined B2C and B2B international shipments in 2020, 9% more than the daily rate in 2019. To keep this business volume going, we are constantly growing our network, investing in facilities and aircraft, and hiring new employees. And while digital B2B purchasing can make processes faster and easier, it only works if the customer’s experience results in a prompt, efficient and cost-effective delivery service.

Is your company making purchases through digital channels? Or are you selling to business customers? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.