All commerce is morphing into e-commerce (or digital commerce)
When referring to e-commerce, the online purchase of consumer goods often comes first to mind. And indeed, this is where it started and is best exemplified by the Amazon platform. It has now moved to non-retail B2C (Business to Consumer), like media, transportation, telecom and other utilities.
And there is no reason why B2B (Business to Business) will not follow the same trend. There is maybe less pressure, but many industrial companies have already set-up their online portal for the sale of spare parts and maintenance services. It is then only a step further to sell the machinery equipment itself on the portal.
Also, some B2B2C manufacturers are considering selling directly to end consumers, like Volvo Cars plans to do. This will largely impact the role of their local dealers and will require that the sale, even though it happens in the brick-and-mortar premises of the dealer, is handled like a digital sale. In fact, we are witnessing a blurring of what off-line and on-line means. For instance, when a consumer shops at an Amazon-Go convenience store, the payment check-out occurs seamlessly through an automatic payment taking place with the Amazon app and connected Amazon account.
Further, many large companies are already re-inventing the concept of sale, promoting to their customers a pay-per-use model instead of the traditional ownership of the equipment. This has been demonstrated by Husqvarna for lawn-mowers, and OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are looking at it for large pieces of equipment. A pay-per-use or subscription model is bound to be digital, i.e. to use a digital portal and have integrated and automated data flows.