The B2B eCommerce market has grown rapidly and is expected to reach USD $6.7 Trillion by 2020. That figure would mean the B2B eCommerce market would be 2x the size of the B2C eCommerce market. As a result, businesses have taken note and are quickly taking steps to be part of this lucrative market. In fact, 76% of business executives across USA and Europe already have a B2B eCommerce eco-system in their business with 39% of them reporting that their eCommerce site is their main sales channel.
Launching a B2B eCommerce solution brings many benefits to your business. For example, a B2B eCommerce solution streamlines and automates your sales process, reduces manual entry and errors, and lowers key business operations costs.
In the fast-changing landscape of B2B eCommerce, your business needs to keep up with the latest trends if you want to avoid lagging behind your competitors. In this post, we explore the latest B2B eCommerce Trends in 2018 and provide advice for your B2B eCommerce strategy.
- Mobile eCommerce Continues Its Fast Ascent
- B2B Buyers Are Increasingly Technology-Adept
- Customer Personalization Is Key
- Allow Customers To Self-Serve
- Importance Of Multi-System Integration
Mobile eCommerce Continues Its Fast Ascent
From researching products, price and feature comparisons to completing payment transactions, business buyers depend on their mobile devices for the entire purchase path. Based on a report by Google, 42% of B2B customers use their mobile devices during their purchasing process. Also, with the increasing relevance of eCommerce in our daily life, consumers expect the same mobile convenience from their professional shopping experience with the shopping experience they get when they shop for personal goods on websites like ASOS and Amazon.
With a huge proportion of the population using their mobile devices to perform B2B transactions, your business may lose a large number of prospective customers if you do not have a proper mobile eCommerce strategy.
What should you do then? The most important thing is to optimize your mobile shopping experience, making it accessible and intuitive for your customers to use. One thing to take note of when setting up a website is to make it responsive and easy-to-navigate on all mobile devices. If you have many customers who purchase while on the go, your website should feature an easy-to-navigate buying experience to avoid cart abandonment scenarios.
B2B Buyers Are Increasingly Technology-Adept
According to a recent Google report, nearly half of B2B buyers are millennials. Younger buyers tend to be more tech-savvy and are receptive to new technology. Furthermore, they expect that B2B purchasing should be as easy as when they purchase on B2C websites.
How does this affect how your B2B eCommerce strategy? You will need to learn and understand how millennials B2B buyers shop to ensure your long-term business profitability. Furthermore, the buying process should not be cumbersome and difficult to use. Instead, the user experience needs to have an intuitive, self-service interface as well as 24-hour eCommerce availability.
Customer Personalization Is Key
Customer personalization is the process of providing each customer with a unique shopping experience. 59% of customers indicate that personalization influences their shopping decisions. In fact, 77% of consumers had chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand’s product or service when they received a personalized service or experience.
Customer personalization plays a more significant role in B2B sales compared to B2C sales. In B2C sales, businesses traditionally have a fixed product catalog and a fixed set of discounts for customers. However, in B2B sales, many factors require product catalogs and prices to vary for each customer. These factors include purchase volume, payment method, shipping requirements, and even company type, i.e., whether the buyer is a wholesaler, distributor, retailer, etc.
It is essential to cater to customers' differing needs in order to create a better customer experience, and this is best accomplished through customer personalization. For example, most B2B businesses support at least a few different price catalogs for wholesale and retail customers.
Your business should personalize and deliver the right content to the right people at the right time, to be most effective in selling to B2B customers. One effective and easy method that your company can use is to set up a dedicated B2B eCommerce platform.
With a B2B eCommerce portal, you can customize the selling experience to each customer. For example, you can set up a customer specific pricing list. Using this pricing list, customers are provided with a variety of pricing options using different criteria’s such as payment terms, shipping methods, quantity of foods purchased, etc. Furthermore, your business could give unique discounts to customers based on their purchasing habits to serve as an incentive to continue buying from you.
Creating a personalized experience changes how your business interacts with your customer from a static and hard sell to a 2-way communication. When customers shopping experience improve, they will purchase more products, thus helping your business achieve higher revenue growth.
Allow Customers To Self Serve
90% of customers expect businesses to provide a self-service order portal. Today, B2B Buyers are seeking to become more independent in their purchasing process and are expecting an Amazon-like shopping experience. They want to be able to do online research, place and manage orders without needing to have a physical communication with their suppliers.
There are many benefits to setting up a B2B ordering portal. By allowing your customers to manage their ordering process, this creates business efficiency by reducing errors and time wasted on manual order taking. This helps to give customers a quick and easy buying experience, improving their user experience.
However, some companies are reluctant to make this change. They fear that by setting up a self-service portal, their salespeople roles will become redundant. This should not be the case. Implementing a self-service portal is meant to help salespeople job easier and not to remove their job away from them. Now, instead of wasting countless hours doing manual order taking, your sales staff will have more time to focus on value-added activities such as generating new leads or upselling your company’s product and services to your existing customers.
Importance Of Multi-System Integration
Multi-system integration is an approach to streamline your business’s entire workflow applications together. This can start all the way from the back-end inventory management platform down to the sales eCommerce customer platform. In fact, 96% of businesses believe it is important to integrate an eCommerce platform with other automated workflow applications.
Most eCommerce platforms are developed without important features such as inventory and order management, accounting, or shipping management. Without having a properly integrated system in place, this can result in a messy and disorganized work process. Some losses that your business can encounter include:
- Loss of vital customer and shipping information
- Time wasted to fix errors
- The time-consuming process to do manual entry
By setting up a proper multi-system integration, your company will benefit from having a unified view of your operations. This would allow your sales, marketing, finance, and operation team to work together more effectively. Some benefits include easy management of the ordering process by syncing all your different sales channels and strengthening your relationships with your suppliers and customers.
As a start, you need to identify the different business channels that make up the entire workflow. The next step would be to try and integrate all the business channels together to streamline your customer interaction process. Through this multi-system integration, your business will be able to create an automated workflow with the synchronized exchange of information across all your business applications.
You might question if the long onboarding process to integrate all the different business system together is truly beneficial. However, the long-term benefits of creating business efficiency will outweigh the short-term costs of time consumed to implement the system, bringing your business to higher profitability.
As B2B eCommerce continues to change and evolve, it’s more necessary than ever that you keep up with the latest digital trends to succeed. Launching a B2B eCommerce solution will boost your business sales, reduce costs, create customer loyalty for your product offerings and generate new business opportunities away from your competitors.
With the B2B trends we’ve mentioned, and Amazon growing its B2B business as only Amazon can, B2B companies who don’t have a B2B eCommerce strategy will suffer. You could either launch your own B2B eCommerce solution, join Amazon or another marketplace to list your products, or choose to continue the difficult path of sticking to the traditional route.
If you are ready to take action and reinvent your B2B eCommerce customer experience, why not try out Sweet’s B2B eCommerce Portal? Our portal allows your business to deliver a customizable modern shopping experience to your B2B customers. Also, our portal offers integrations to business application such as QuickBooks online and ShipStation, allowing you to streamline your entire business operation. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today and experience the benefits that Sweet can bring to your B2B eCommerce business.