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B2B E-Commerce: The Challenges and Opportunities Caused by Digital Acceleration

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  • 17 Pages
  • March 2021
  • Region: United States
  • Mercator Advisory Group
  • ID: 5309212
Pandemic-Related Disruptions Caused Digital Business-to-Business (B2B) Sales to Surge for All Online Channels


  • Alibaba
  • Chase
  • JP Morgan
  • Lending Tree
  • Oracle
  • Salesforce

This report examines the pandemic’s impact on B2B sales. Specifically, the author examines how the digital transformation in B2B commerce, which began prior to the pandemic, has been greatly accelerated. Depending on the definition of B2B e-commerce, there are multiple estimates as to its size, both globally and in the United States. Nonetheless, with COVID-19 disrupting physical sales, B2B e-commerce volumes have surged for all electronic sales channels. Now, B2B e-commerce volumes exceed consumer (B2C) e-commerce volumes, while both e-commerce types are experiencing remarkable growth. Even as the pandemic subsides, the growing importance of e-commerce in the B2B industry will persist; digitalization is here to stay.

In the report, the publisher focuses on the rise of B2B marketplaces, which are especially important as workplace demographics shift and customer expectations for seamless digital experiences continue to shape the landscape. We identify the functionality and features that will define successful B2B marketplaces as digitalization continues. The author then discusses where the financial services industry can find some success in the growing B2B marketplace space via specific opportunities. 

“Total sales on B2B e-commerce sites grew 10% to $1.39 trillion in 2020, and when e-procurement sales are included, digital B2B sales totaled over $2.19 trillion. And that’s excluding sales on EDI platforms,” commented Daniel Banta, Analyst and co-author of the report. “Though B2B marketplaces currently make up a modest share of all electronic sales, it appears the B2B industry is heading to an eventual marketplace-dominated distribution model.”

Highlights of the report include:

  • Detailed review and clarification of e-commerce methods and approaches for the B2B space
  • Examination of COVID-19’s impact on physical and digital B2B sales trends
  • A review of the demographic factors driving marketplace preferences
  • A summary of the most important features and functionality that B2B marketplaces should offer to meet digital-centric expectations
  • Detailed analysis of financial services industry opportunities in payments and lending as they relate to B2B marketplace disruptors


  • Alibaba
  • Chase
  • JP Morgan
  • Lending Tree
  • Oracle
  • Salesforce

1. Executive Summary2. Introduction
3. B2B E-Commerce Overview
  • The Diverse Topology of B2B Commerce
  • Market Size and Trends:
  • The COVID-Fueled Sprint toward Digital Transformation
  • Marketplaces Are 2020’s Big Winner

4. Opportunity
  • Unpacking the Appeal of Marketplaces
  • Payments: Virtual Cards Are on the Rise
  • Marketplace Financing

5. Conclusions and Strategic Advice
6. References
  • Related Research
  • Endnotes

Figure 1: B2B sales via physical channels continue falling, while electronic sales grow to new heights
Figure 2: The volume of sales through e-procurement and e-commerce platforms hit new highs in 2020
Figure 3: Many startup B2B marketplaces are focused on individual industries
Figure 4: B2B buyers were more likely to report changes in buying expectations than regular consumers


  • Amazon
  • Alibaba
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Epicenter
  • IBM
  • JP Morgan
  • Kabbage
  • Kinnek
  • Lending Tree
  • Magento
  • Marqeta
  • Oracle
  • Predix
  • PunchOut2Go
  • Salesforce
  • Shopify
  • Spryker
  • Square Capital
  • Thomas.net
  • Virto Commerce
  • Wells Fargo