Alibaba.com – the most important online commerce platform worldwide – recently collaborated with the market research company, Euromonitor International, to conduct an independent study entitled “The Future of B2B E-Commerce: Online Platforms”, which involved buyers and sellers in the B2B sector present in Italy, Germany, and Spain. Thanks to the contribution of sector experts and stakeholders, it was possible to undertake a study dedicated to B2B e-commerce which, when combined with the trends and future prospects of the industry, has given life to a report on the future of B2B commerce.

Digital growth continues 

Starting now and continuing for the next 5 years, the forecasts are that the expansion of B2B e-commerce will continue to be guided by an increase in digital sales and purchases and by a growth in exports, with online business arriving at a total of 16.4% in Italy, 25.3% in Spain, 32.6% in Germany, and 16.8% in Turkey by 2026. From a global analysis of the current situation in which B2B e-commerce is positioned, it emerges how the pandemic – which caused the interruption of the supply chain, cancellation of fairs, and limited in-person meetings – was one of the determining factors of acceleration in the transition to digital commerce. In this context, if larger companies managed to quickly adapt, for SMEs the change in strategy was slower, also because of a lack of resources and access to information on the possibilities offered by platforms. This led SMEs to focus more on their collaborations with established partners.

A ‘hybrid’ future 

What B2B leaders of SMEs and large-scale companies have in common is the belief that the transition to e-commerce is essential to the life of their business: B2B sector buyers in fact expect that the future will be increasingly “hybrid” and that it will be possible to continue to make use of traditional sourcing channels, in tandem however with online ones, with a dual approach to sourcing. In this context, online platforms – above all established ones and those that have shown themselves efficient for their easy-to-use functions and transactions – are the answer to the digital approach and represent the meeting place between buyers and sellers. In terms of traditional channels, instead, different ones have emerged in each sector, even if in the sector of Apparel, in-person fairs are destined to remain an important part of the sourcing process in terms of commercial contacts and sales.