B2B eCommerce is an increasingly-changing landscape. New technologies, like big data analytics or workflow automation, can emerge and become widely available quickly, changing the competitive dynamics and upending incumbents. B2B companies need to adapt in order to keep up with the trends and stay ahead of their competitors. 2019 will be no different. There are several trends this year that are looking to shake up the world of B2B eCommerce. Here are three of the most important.
Artificial Intelligence in Digital Marketing
Artificial intelligence (AI) is still a relatively new technology, but it is already rapidly changing how B2B companies do business. This is clearly evident in the way they do their digital marketing – one of the most important aspects of B2B eCommerce. So, how exactly does AI benefit digital marketing and B2B eCommerce as a whole?
The success of any digital marketing strategy relies on the accurate analysis of vast amounts of data to arrive at valuable insights. However, actually performing such analyses is an arduous process, and many B2B companies do not have the time, resources, and capabilities to do so. Enterprises can now easily fill in these gaps by using AI.
Depending on factors like the type of data, its volume, and its quality / consistency, analyzing data can take weeks or even months. AI can allow B2B business owners to speed up the process exponentially. What took weeks before can now be completed in the span of a few minutes or hours. With machine learning, an AI-powered system can automatically analyze data and solve problems with minimal human intervention.
A perfect example of AI at work in the world of digital marketing is Netflix’s viewing recommendations. The streaming giant’s platform uses machine learning to analyze customer behavior and recommend titles based on what viewers have previously watched. This makes Netflix users more likely to keep watching and keep their subscription. According to Netflix, 75% of their viewing is driven by the recommendation algorithm.
Another great example of AI in marketing and eCommerce are chatbots. These are computer programs that can carry out conversations with human users on the internet, and they are widely used by B2B companies with the aim of interacting with their customers better.
Chatbots can converse with users through an interface that looks like the one you’d see on Facebook Messenger. Through machine learning, a chatbot can collect consumer data and use this data to provide better responses and improve future interactions with users.
Augmented Reality in the Supply Chain
Moving goods from one point to another in a supply chain is a complex and costly endeavor. This is why businesses are always on the lookout for ways to improve their supply chain management processes and make them more efficient and affordable. This is where augmented reality comes in.
Augmented reality (AR) is a type of interactive technology wherein computer-generated images or information are superimposed onto a real-world environment, thereby augmenting it. These augmentations are designed to enhance the view of the real-world environment and add information that is helpful to the viewer.
Perhaps the most popular example of AR to date is the game Pokemon Go, a mobile game allowing players to find and collect Pokemon characters from physical locations around them. It has been downloaded more than 800 million times worldwide since it was released.
In the context of supply chain management, AR can be used by businesses to increase productivity and minimize errors. A report published by the logistics conglomerate, DHL, revealed their delivery staff spend as much as 60% of their day searching their trucks to know what parcel to deliver next. This time could have been better spent on more value-adding tasks.
DHL now uses AR to streamline inventory management on its trucks and decrease human error. Employees now wear Vuzix Smart Glasses, which are essentially hands-free AR-powered Android-based computers, to see exactly where items should be positioned on a cart. The Smart Glasses also provide employees with the best warehouse routes to pick orders and place them on carts in the shortest amount of time possible.
IKEA has also started using AR in an effort to provide a much better and more convenient customer experience. The Swedish-based furniture retailer recently released a mobile app called the IKEA Place, which was developed with the help of Apple, Inc.
Users of IKEA Place can virtually place furniture in any area of their home to see how it would look. IKEA states that the app scales their products to fit a real-world environment with 98% accuracy.
IKEA’s use of AR through the Place app offers customers more convenience by letting them pick and model furniture in the comfort of their own homes. The company is also hopeful that this will translate into increased sales, as they expect sales to reach almost $6 billion by 2020.
Blockchain in B2B eCommerce
A blockchain is an ever-growing list of records (blocks) that are linked using complex cryptography. It is typically shared on a peer-to-peer network so it can be accessed by multiple users as long as they are connected to that specific network. The cryptography built into a blockchain’s infrastructure theoretically provides immutability to the data being stored, and therefore enables the secure verification of any and all transactions.
When blockchain first appeared in 2008, it was meant to be used for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. It served as the public transaction ledger for the digital currency and is now used by all other cryptocurrencies.
Along with being one of the biggest buzzwords of 2018 and, potentially, a globally disruptive technology, blockchain is poised to make a huge impact on B2B eCommerce.
A large number of B2B companies still rely on outdated methods of collecting payments from their customers, such as check payments, which don’t reflect in real time and are also easy targets for fraud. In fact, the October 2017 Global Fraud Index reported businesses worldwide suffered $57.8 billion in eCommerce fraud from the second quarter of 2016 up to the second quarter of 2017.
To deter fraud and prevent such great losses, certain B2B companies are looking at shifting over to blockchain. The technology’s sophisticated cryptography means transactions made on a blockchain are at the top of the list when it comes to online security.
Visa, one of the world’s largest financial services companies, launched Visa B2B Connect in late 2017, a B2B payments system running on blockchain technology.
At the moment, Visa B2B Connect is not yet commercially available. Although they haven’t given a concrete update as to when the platform will be rolled out, Visa’s goal for the platform is for it speed up transactions, make them more secure, and most of all help customers avoid falling victim to financial fraud.
Looking for the perfect solution to improve your B2B business processes? Look no further than Sweet Technology’s inventory management software, which allows you to gain more robust control of your inventory. You are also provided with 100% accurate real-time inventory data.
With Sweet Technology, you’ll know the location of your goods across your supply chain as well as how much of each item you have in stock. Using this information, you’ll be able to accurately forecast your production levels in order to meet your customers’ demands.
Our technology is also integrated with other software like Shopify and Stripe. They provide your customers with more convenient as well as more secure payment options, which can help to ensure that they always pay you on time.
To find out how Sweet can help you, request a free demo today.