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Global B2B market shifts towards digital sales amid COVID-19: new yStats.com report

The latest publication from Germany-based online research firm yStats.com, “Global B2B E-Commerce Market and Trends 2021 Post COVID-19” offers a comprehensive overview of the business-to-business online retail market across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the report provides insights into possible future developments of the industry based on market values, companies’ preferences and intentions, as well as market leaders’ estimates and forecasts.

The growth of B2B E-Commerce sales worldwide

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the global business-to-business industry, despite being more resistant to change than retail sales, has increasingly started moving towards E-Commerce. Between 2019 and 2020, the value of B2B digital sales grew by almost 20%, and in February 2021, E-Commerce accounted for more than half of business-to-business sales globally. Furthermore, in 2021, more than 90% of B2B buyers globally preferred virtual sales interactions, up 17 percentage points from 2020. However, for many B2B companies, moving completely towards digital was rather challenging, so omnichannel became the top priority by 2023 for over eight in ten B2B leaders across the globe, according to a 2020 survey cited in the yStats.com report.

B2B buyers expect more virtual sales

Personalization has become an important term in B2B E-Commerce amid the pandemic. Despite this being the top challenge regarding online sales for global B2B leaders in 2020, personalized content is expected from about 80% of B2B companies in 2021. Moreover, compared to the pre-COVID-19 period, online chats as a sales channel gained in popularity, while in-person sales models were reduced by more than half. Overall, in 2021, virtual interactions are seen as an effective means of sales by eight in ten B2B sellers across the globe, and in 2020 the share was just over half. Additionally, B2B marketplaces are gaining momentum in 2021. Even though global giants such as Amazon Business and Alibaba still top the online B2B sales ranking in many countries worldwide, smaller niche players are to set to overtake a significant market share in the near future.

B2B payments are going digital

As the B2B payments industry is experiencing a major transformation due to the pandemic, business-to-business transactions are becoming increasingly digitalized. For example, in just one year, the share of B2B companies that make over 90% of their payments electronically rose by twelve percentage points in 2020 compared to pre-pandemic 2019. Furthermore, a third of corporate practitioners in a 2020 survey cited in the new yStats.com publication stated that the majority of their B2B payments were already digital, and almost 40% were very likely to shift them in the near future.