Business / Technology

B2B e-commerce to enter a phase of rapid development

By Meng Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-01 08:03

Online platforms are becoming integral and crucial for business-to-business e-commerce companies across various segments amid stiff competition, a new survey said.

The study, published on Monday by SAP Hybris, an e-commerce solution provider that is part of German software giant SAP SE, and Forrester Research Inc, showed that the number of B2B firms in China, that make more than one-quarter of their purchases online, will double in the next three years.

"B2B e-commerce is expected to enter a phase of a rapid development. B2B companies that wait too long to implement e-commerce strategies are taking a big risk as they will lag in catering to client requirements and suffer in terms of sales, services and retention of customers," said Zhang Bo, China manager of SAP Hybris.

The study polled 200 business decision-makers of B2B firms in China. About 34 percent of the respondents said 25 percent or even more of their purchases will be conducted through online channels in the next three years, compared with just 17 percent now.

The majority of the surveyed B2B e-commerce firms, ranging from automotive, high-tech, manufacturing to oil and gas, said they expect online sales to increase in the following years.

It is an opportune time for ambitious B2B firms to set up e-commerce platforms to shape the future of their individual industry, he said.

On Friday, Hangzhou Ali Venture Capital, an investment firm backed by Alibaba, said it will build an online steel trade platform with Minmetals Development Co Ltd to tap into the B2B steel industry.

The firm, in which Alibaba's Jack Ma has an 80 percent stake, said it will invest 316.8 million yuan ($49.52 million) in the B2B e-commerce platform.

Charlie Dai, principal analyst with Forrester Research Inc, said though Alibaba already has a B2B online trading platform called, which sells consumer products such as cloth, machinery and steel, it will still need to dig deep into each sector to become an established player.

"That's why even e-commerce giant like Alibaba needs to team up with Minmetals to leverage their expertise in steel production and sales," he said.

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