The astonishing growth of business to business e-commerce looks set to dwarf all business-to-consumer activity.
These figures (right), from Forrester Research, show the value of business-to-business transactions escalating from this year onwards. Much of this business is currently being conducted via telephone and paper-based systems, or e-mail systems that interface badly with traditional, paper-based back-office operations.
But the shift into fully electronic systems looks set to create savings and huge business opportunities. E-marketplaces that take a small cut of trading that is measured in billions of dollars will fast become attractive investment propositions in their own right: hence the many consortia-based online trading exchanges that eventually plan to float. At the same time, bulk commodity buying will save billions of pounds for smaller businesses.
These benefits do not come from nowhere. The savings will be created by lowest-cost suppliers finding new markets – and those that cannot compete simply going out of business.
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