The Top 7 Wholesale eCommerce Trends to Watch for in 2020

In today’s business, there’s a constant need to adapt to where your market is. Because of this, wholesale online sellers are continuously exploring where they can improve what they offer through the help of trends. By understanding consumer data, retailers and experts can better plan their strategy for the entire year.

As the year’s second quarter approaches, retailers need to reflect on these trends and how these are affecting customers. When wholesale brands are able to understand and meet consumer needs, there is not only an opportunity for the business to grow, but businesses can also come up with more relevant offers for the coming months.

In 2019, e-commerce was all about enhancing customer experience and convenience. 2020 looks to be no different! With emerging technological advancements within the retail sector, previous trends are now re-emerging with an opportunity to reach greater heights. One example of this is voice orders.

Data from 2019 shows that voice orders were preferred by 14% of B2B customers. However, because applying this is proving more complex for the B2B sector to implement in comparison to B2C, not a lot of retailers have explored this tactic. Due to growing demand and further innovations in business technology, it’s looking like voice commerce for the B2B market should not be far behind. That said, here are 7 other wholesale trends in eCommerce to watch out for this 2020: 

1. Personalization or Customization

In a report from Sana Commerce, data shows that 19% of B2B buyers would be persuaded to select a vendor based on their ability to offer a personalized online buying experience. Better customer experience focused on delivery and convenience are quickly becoming a core element of every strategy, so it’s only right to consider adding a personal touch.

Using this method, the customer’s journey and behavior is monitored and stored. The data gathered is then used to provide buyers with recommended products that are tailored to their needs. By showing customers relevant products that add value to their experience, businesses can use data to help optimize conversion rates.

Additionally, while some businesses rely on data gathered from their customers’ online behavior, others opt to also use short quizzes and surveys to build customized products based on consumer necessities.

2. Online Marketplaces

As most B2B Marketers would claim, everything can now be done online. In B2B eCommerce, web shops are typically used as a platform to place orders, while payments are done elsewhere. 

As a platform, a web shop serves as a place for businesses to showcase brands to a range of customers, providing consumers options from the safety of their office or home. As a result, customers can compare products, offers, and services based on their preferred features and prices without needing to travel to a physical store.

Most small-to-medium businesses tap into the online world because it allows them to draw a larger audience. But more than that, integrating shops with online software allows retailers to prepare for transactions specific to the buyer’s request. Because of this, online shops not only promote convenience, but also help keep things organized for both the retailer and their target audience. 

3. Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR)

The biggest challenge encountered by consumers when purchasing online is that most people still prefer to experience the physical product.

While images and descriptions of products are provided on the web, AR and VR creates the opportunity for customers to experience products and services in a way that feels real and substantial. Leveraging augmented and virtual reality means answering common concerns such as: how these products will be of use to customers and whether the details presented online are accurate.

With today’s digital innovations, customers are afforded different means to virtually test and experience products prior to purchase. And while some industries may continue to view AR and VR as a threat, the reality is that these channels can help hasten a user’s decision process. By helping consumers identify what products or services they want, the sales cycle is shortened while the brand’s credibility stays intact. 

4. Eco-consciousness

As concerns over the retail sector’s environmental impact grows, 70% of millennials say that a company’s environmental focus influences their purchase decisions. However, this kind of thinking is no longer just specific to Millennials or even “Generation Z as it is rapidly becoming a global concern.

Most businesses today are smart enough to incorporate an advocacy of sustainability into their company vision. Some partner with environmental organizations, while others explore smaller initiatives such as adopting more eco-friendly packaging materials. In either case, there is a move for B2B eCommerce retailers to be more eco-conscious, as green thumb customers will only continue to grow in the years to come. 

As sustainability quickly gains more widespread attention, more consumers are looking to minimize their carbon footprint by selecting brands that provide eco-friendly products and services. According to Cone Communications 87% of customers agreed that they would be more likely to buy a product from a brand that offered a social or environmental benefit. This gives brands more reasons to consider going green with their products.

5. Progressive Web Apps

A lot of big companies like Forbes, Twitter and The Weather Channel have worked on PWA to better their user’s mobile experience. In recent years, these companies and a few others have enjoyed the 76% increase in conversions, 30% speed gain,  88% performance improvement after adopting PWA into their business.

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a web app that uses modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like experience to users. While it’s good to note that the definition for PWA differs across the internet, the purpose of PWA is to optimize your brand’s website so that it is more accessible across different platforms (web, mobile, etc.).

The concept of PWA shouldn’t come as a surprise as it’s nothing new in the industry. However, it remains relevant as e-commerce software developers are building the foundations for PWAs by delivering single-page applications (SPAs). This innovation helps e-commerce websites load information that users need, instead of having a page reload during use.

6. Subscription Based Models

More companies are adapting subscription-based models into their business as the demand for this format grows. According to an article from Forbes, there are four factors that drive subscriptions: lowered prices, convenience, personalization and curation. As a result, B2B brands are exploring recurring revenue streams by continuously engaging with their consumer base through innovation.

In exchange for offers and services that consider accessible pricing, personalization and curation, customers are enticed to avail of recurring products or services which, in turn, provide companies with a consistent monthly or yearly income. 

Retailers now have to carefully consider and conceptualize their offers, as consumers are becoming even more discerning of which subscriptions they avail of. Because of this, it’s critical that eCommerce brands consider the needs of their target audience and whether the value they provide truly justifies another monthly plan. We recommend reflecting on the following questions:

  • How much are customers willing to shell out for an offer?
  • Are other retailers offering similar goods or services?
  • What is my target audience really looking for?
  • What value does my offer provide?
  • Is this product and pricing competitive?

7. Artificial Intelligence

Over the years, a number of eCommerce wholesalers have started investing in Artificial Intelligence such as automation, as well as machine and deep learning. Examples of how consumers now use AI in their day-to-day include digital assistants like Siri and Alexa, smart technology that utilizes the Internet of Things, email spam filters, social media algorithms, and online banking. While these systems differ in use and application, the common variable that they share is that these programs all learn from data. 

As we enter the new decade, the demand for more personalized experiences continues to increase. And while some organizations are still intimidated by the thought of incorporating AI into their business, it is becoming rudimental to a brand’s growth.

By leveraging AI, businesses can simplify processes, organize data for more strategic business decision-making, and ultimately create more personalized transactions for their customer base.

Trends Impact Customer Experience

While trends are ever-changing, wholesalers should be encouraged to explore which of these can be applied to their existing business model.

By identifying what trends are applicable to the business, eCommerce retailers can better utilize consumer data to add more value to their products and services. And by using technology to improve consumer experience, this should open more significant opportunities to provide deeper insights into your clients.

Sweet is an end-to-end platform designed to help small-to-medium wholesale businesses. We are a cloud-based inventory and order management platform specifically designed for wholesale manufacturers and distributors with integrations to accounting and shipping tools. Our goal is to make wholesalers' lives easy and efficient.

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