The NPD Group: U.S. B2B Commercial Channel Grows for Fourth Consecutive Year, Driven by Sales of PCs and Components

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B2B Commercial Channel Helps to Ease Market Fragmentation Challenges of SMB Market

“The growth of the B2B commercial channel shows how channel-based sales continue to be an increasingly valuable asset to the commercial IT market,” - Michael Diamond, Director, Industry Analysis, Commercial Technology, The NPD Group.

For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. business-to-business (B2B) commercial channel revenue increased. Sales in 2015 grew 2.1 percent to more than $72 billion, according to The NPD Group’s Distributor and Reseller Tracking Services. From 2012 to 2015, the U.S. B2B commercial channel market increased at a 4.4 percent compound annual growth rate, adding $8.7 billion in revenue over that period.

“The growth of the B2B commercial channel shows how channel-based sales continue to be an increasingly valuable asset to the commercial IT market,” said Michael Diamond, Director, Industry Analysis, Commercial Technology for The NPD Group. “Along with providing an outlet for sales of increasingly complex technology, the B2B commercial channel also offers the industry critical access to the opportunities in the highly fragmented small-to-medium business market.”

From a revenue perspective, the top ten vendors in the U.S. B2B commercial channel in 2015 were Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Lenovo, Microsoft, IBM, Apple, EMC, Samsung, Dell and Network Appliance. Within the top ten, Dell and Cisco grew the fastest year-over-year as Dell has expanded its commercial focus to push sales in both direct and indirect channels. Additionally, Dell’s acquisition of EMC will likely position the company to become a top-five B2B channel partner in 2016. Cisco is also growing its presence in the B2B commercial channel beyond traditional networking gear as its UCS blade and rack-mount offerings continue to gain ground in the market.

“Even as commercial IT turns its attention towards a more cloud-centric future, client systems like PCs and workstations are poised to remain a driving force for growth in the B2B commercial channel,” Diamond said.

Diamond added, “Another pocket area of growth has been in the hyper-converged infrastructure segment, which is resonating with the SMB market as they seek solutions that are easy to deploy, manage, and scale with minimal effort.”

PC sales have experienced a 7.8 percent CAGR over the past four years due to a convergence of factors, including the adoption of Chromebooks in the education market as K-12 institutions embrace 1:1 computing initiatives. In addition, the increased adoption of thin-client devices in cloud computing strategies has driven PC sales, as well as a rise in workstation growth driven by the need for more processing power in a world where Big Data is king.

The component market grew nearly 8 percent over the last four years led by the adoption of solid state drives (SSDs), propelled by twin opportunities in hosted virtual desktops (HVDs) and demand for new Big Data strategies. Another catalyst for growth in the components market has been the rising trend of hyperscale data center providers (e.g., Facebook, Rackspace, and Microsoft) and collaboration by component manufacturers on designs that allow system integrators the opportunity to build systems for these environments.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group provides market information and business solutions that drive better decision-making and better results. The world’s leading brands rely on us to help them get the right products in the right places for the right people. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, diamonds, e-commerce, entertainment, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, technology, toys, video games, and watches / jewelry. For more information, visit npd.com and npdgroupblog.com. Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup.

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Lauren Leetun, APR
The NPD Group
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