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HomeTechnologyEDI still accounts for the lion’s share of B2B digital sales

EDI still accounts for the lion’s share of B2B digital sales


Digital commerce for business is comprised of multiple channels—including electronic data interchange.

In 2021, as in previous years, the biggest B2B electronic sales channel was electronic data interchange, which accounted for 76.5% of all digital sales. In comparison, combined sales for ecommerce sites, log-in portals, and marketplaces accounted for 12.5% of digital sales; e-procurement and other online buyer/seller networks accounted for 7.1%, according to data and analysis in the 2022 B2B Ecommerce Market Report.

But EDI, which generated electronic sales of $8.38 trillion in 2021, up from $7.73 trillion in 2020, was also the slowest-growing digital sales channel. EDI grew year over year by 8.3%. In comparison, combined growth at ecommerce sites, log-in portals and marketplaces grew 2.14 times faster than EDI, while e-procurement and other online buyer/seller networks grew 2.05 times faster.

B2B ecommerce sales accelerated in 2021 in large measure because more business buyers and sellers now see digital commerce as a more efficient and effective way to research and purchase corporate goods and services, according to recent surveys on ecommerce business behavior from industry analysts.

For example, the evidence continues to mount that B2B buyers are switching their corporate purchases to the online channel in a big—and permanent—way, according to a fall 2021 survey of 750 executives from business research and consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

The survey finds B2B customers now regularly use ten or more channels to interact with suppliers, up from just five in 2016. Buyers are more willing than ever before to spend substantial amounts through remote or online sales channels, with 35% willing to spend $500,000 or more in a single transaction (up from 27% in February 2021). 77% of B2B customers are also willing to spend $50,000 or more.

“The next normal for B2B sales is here, and there’s no looking back—businesses are no longer cautiously testing the waters, incrementally (and sometimes reluctantly) inching their way online,” McKinsey says. “The pressures from COVID-19 have accelerated the shift.”

Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact Mark Brohan, vice president of B2B and Market Research Development, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @markbrohan.

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