While retail e-commerce grew rapidly in the past 15 years, and Internet Retailer grew with it, business-to-business e-commerce gained traction more slowly. But now with B2B e-commerce finally catching on a big way—with more than $500 billion in estimated annual sales in the United States—Internet Retailer this week is launching B2Bec News.
“Ever since the launch of Internet Retailer magazine 15 years ago, a small but steadily growing segment of our readership has been coming from companies engaged in business-to-business e-commerce,” says Jack Love, chairman of Vertical Web Media LLC, the publisher of Internet Retailer and B2Bec News. “Today that segment has become too significant to properly serve with a publication that is primarily geared to e-retailing. There are simply too many technical, marketing and strategic issues that are unique to B2B e-commerce and which cry out for a publication focused exclusively on covering them. B2Bec News is that publication, and I’m happy to say it’s the first of its kind.”
B2Bec News, a weekly e-mail newsletter, will cover technology and strategies that manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors are using to sell online to businesses, government agencies and nonprofits, including universities and hospitals. Topics covered in the premiere issue, which will launch tomorrow, include a look at how bike- and ski-rack manufacturer Thule Inc. is moving more sales online, Bulbs.com’s offering a new e-commerce-based leasing program, the launch of new B2B e-commerce exchanges and payment systems, and the implications of pending online sales tax legislation on B2B companies.
Molly Love Rogers, president and CEO of Vertical Web Media, adds that the company will also launch a series of content products that “will provide key information to B2B companies selling on the web and also the technologies supporting this transition.”
Vertical Web Media’s move into B2B e-commerce publishing coincides with huge growth in B2B e-commerce, which Forrester Research Inc. estimated was $559 billion in the United States last year. Forrester senior analyst Andy Hoar, who wrote the research, said that $559 billion was a conservative estimate and that "the market is growing rapidly."
Others agree that the figure is likely to go much higher very soon. “I’d say the market is close to $800 billion to almost $1 trillion,” says Gene Alvarez, vice president and e-commerce technology analyst at Gartner Inc.
Helping companies succeed in that market will be a core mission of B2Bec News, Rogers says. “Recent trends show that B2B e-commerce businesses need a dedicated and reliable source to report specifically on the unique strategies and challenges facing the rapidly growing B2B e-commerce environment.”
Alvarez says a good part of the burgeoning B2B e-commerce market is being driven by a broad shift among companies, including health care organizations, retailers and manufacturers of various types, to use e-commerce sites instead of paper catalogs to purchase a wide range of products. That shift is being driven in part, he says, by the emergence of a new generation of purchasing agents who grew up using the Internet and expect it to be as easy to buy something for their workplace as it is to buy something on a retail site for their personal use.
Further adding to the momentum is the attention two of the most successful consumer-facing online companiesAmazon.com Inc. and Google Inc.—are paying to B2B e-commerce. Amazon has launched a B2B marketplace called Amazon Supply and Google is testing a site called Google Shopping for Suppliers. Alvarez says those shopper-friendly B2B e-commerce sites turn up the pressure on companies to enable their customers to buy easily online. “I believe every CEO is no longer saying, ‘Can I make money on the web?’; they’re now asking ‘What’s the best way to get our products selling on the web?’”
For a free subscription to B2Bec News, click here.
January 20, 2014, 4:05 PM Paul Demery