B2B ecommerce sales to top $1 trillion by 2020: Forrester

Online B2B sales will reach $780 billion by the end of this year alone. For perspective, the B2C ecommerce market in the US was a measly $304.9 billion in 2014.

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B2B ecommerce is big, and according to a report from Forrester, it's about to get a whole lot bigger.

Unlike B2C ecommerce, where companies sell directly to consumers via a website, the B2B ecommerce market is more fragmented. Businesses can buy goods not only from a company's website, but also through a bevy of software marketplaces and networks.

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Forrester estimates that B2B ecommerce sales in the US will top $1 trillion by 2020. For perspective, the B2C ecommerce market in the US was a measly $304.9 billion in 2014, according to the US Department of Commerce.

Forrester's B2B figures represent an 8 percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years, with B2B sales reaching $780 billion by the end of this year alone.

The research firm says the driving force behind such growth is a shift in behavior on the part of B2B buyers. Today, 74 percent of B2B buyers research at least one-half of their work purchases online. Combined with cost savings gained by the self-serve ecommerce environment, more businesses are expected to move online in the next few years.

As for the industries that top the ecommerce sales list, Forrester says sellers of petroleum and petroleum products hold the largest share of all B2B ecommerce, and will continue to claim that lead in 2020.

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