Despite its fast growth as a sales channel, ecommerce represents only a small part of total manufacturing sales. Last year B2B ecommerce sales accounted for about 5.9% of all sales from manufacturers, up from 5.2% in 2017, according data contained in the newly released 2019 B2B Manufacturer 300 report.
For most manufacturers compared and listed in the B2B Manufacturer 300, ecommerce as a percentage of all sales remains relatively small. For 57%, or 171 manufacturers, ecommerce only accounted for a range of 1.1% to 2% of total sales.
The range of ecommerce sales as a percent of total sales also varies based on different industries. B2B Manufacturer 300 companies were grouped by six industries: automotive parts/vehicles, computers/office supplies, consumer products, and hardware/home furnishings, healthcare/pharmaceutical and industrial.
As a group, manufacturers report several reasons for why B2B ecommerce sales are such a small part of annual revenue—and why some manufacturers are only just now getting into the ecommerce game or remain on the sideline altogether.
When asked their biggest challenge in building a B2B ecommerce business, 54% of manufacturers picked a lack of money as the most important inhibitor, according to data from the 2019 B2B Manufacturer 300 report.
Nearly one-quarter of product makers (23.6%) cited a lack of support from top executives as another roadblock, followed by resistance to change from internal sales departments and representatives (cited by 19.1%), anxiety about competing with Amazon (18%), difficulty in recruiting ecommerce personnel (18%) and customer reluctance to buying online (13%).
But the pace of how quickly manufacturers will roll out or expand B2B ecommerce will accelerate. That’s because more business buyers are demanding more ways to purchase business products and services online, and they are placing more orders on the ecommerce sites and through the web portals of manufacturers that are making the digital purchasing process easy, convenient and personal.
Last year manufacturers’ B2B ecommerce sales grew nearly three times faster than the growth of all U.S. manufacturing sales, which totaled $6.028 trillion in 2018, according to data from the 2019 B2B Manufacturer 300 report.
Manufacturers that are aggressive in launching or expanding B2B ecommerce also stand to gain new customers, generate more sales and gain market share over competitors, says Brian Beck, founder of consulting and research firm Beck Ecommerce. “There’s lots of room in various industries to step up and be the first or among the first digital disruptors in that market,” Beck says. “The early adopters are the ones that can gain the most wallet share.”