What you need to know to thrive in the world of B2B ecommerce.
2020 made it very obvious that having the tools and capabilities to sell online is essential for businesses regardless of if they are B2B or B2C. These are the B2B ecommerce trends businesses need to understand to stay ahead of the curve and meet the changing expectations of B2B customers.
Why is the Shift to B2B Digital Commerce Happening?
Businesses of all types and in all industries had to rapidly adapt to the challenges thrown up by the global pandemic, and what started off for many as a temporary stopgap has become the norm. Business buyers find the self-service model a convenient, efficient and safe way to do business.
Another factor driving the shift is the fact that millennials now account for the majority of B2B buyers. (Merit) As ‘digital natives’, they won’t put up with businesses that don’t keep up with the times when it comes to digital commerce. They’re not interested in the traditional drawn-out sales process, they want the hassle-free digital experience they’re used to in other parts of their lives. With B2B ecommerce in the US forecast to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023, the potential is huge. (Forrester)
5 B2B eCommerce Trends for 2021
1. API-Based Digital Commerce and Composable Commerce
Gartner introduced the term ‘composable commerce’ (Gartner) to describe what it sees as the future of ecommerce – using interchangeable solutions and applications, and merging the various components to produce a service that meets the specific needs of your customer base. APIs (application program interface) integrate the various solutions to make a streamlined, highly customized commerce experience.
Also known as headless commerce, composable commerce is a valuable approach for tech-driven organizations with the development resources to support a custom solution. Start by looking at your existing tech stack and its functionality. You need to make sure your solution offers the right functionality for your business and customers, and with the use of composable commerce you can achieve that. API-driven and composable ecommerce solutions are more flexible and better at meeting the different demands your customers make on your business.
2. Modelling B2B eCommerce on B2C eCommerce
B2C ecommerce is so highly developed that it makes sense to aim to give B2B buyers the same levels of service and convenience. Rather than looking at your platform in terms of basic functionality, try looking at it as if you’re a consumer looking to buy. What is usability like, and how many of the functions you appreciate on B2C ecommerce sites are present? Consider adding common B2C commerce features like product recommendations, as well as improving cross-selling, you’ll be giving your customers a much better overall buying experience.
3. Fintech as a Service
In terms of B2B ecommerce payment trends, FaaS is definitely one to watch. Fintech as a Service solutions let B2B Business offer the payment and payout methods preferred by customers and suppliers the world over through single API integration. The best solutions include fraud protection, multi-currency support and other features designed to simplify global B2B commerce for businesses and their customers. The risk-reward equation for your business.
- How FaaS will enhance your customer value proposition.
- What you’ll need to implement the solution (technology) and the cost structure.
- The various pricing models that will apply when you offer payment capabilities.
4. Immersive Commerce
Immersive commerce uses advanced digital technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 360-degree product images to enhance customer experiences. By giving buyers a more dynamic view of their choices, immersive commerce helps them in their purchasing decisions. From letting buyers view products from all angles to the ability to virtually ‘place’ them in their intended environment, this is one of the B2B trends for ecommerce that can have a strong impact.
5. B2B Enterprise Marketplaces
Online B2C marketplaces are well established, and the rise of B2B marketplaces is something to take note of in 2021. About 87% of B2B buyers purchase from marketplaces, and there are other benefits to you as a seller. As well as putting you in front of customers that are serious about buying, often the marketplace can manage aspects of selling like order routing and product catalog management.
Make These B2B eCommerce Trends Work for Your Business
B2B businesses are turning more and more to online payments and sales in the wake of the global pandemic. Businesses that once relied on long, personal sales cycles are pivoting to simple, self-service online sales. The need for digital transformation is very real, so businesses must adapt to their customers’ increasingly digitally-based demands.
Gartner. “Gartner: Hyper Cycle for Digital Commerce.” 2020.
Merit. “Millennial B2B Report.” Merit, March 2016, https://madewithmerit.com/reports/Millennial_B2B-Report-Merit.pdf.
Forrester.”US B2B eCommerce Will Hit $1.8 Trillion By 2023″ January 2019, https://www.forrester.com/report/US+B2B+eCommerce+Will+Hit+12+Trillion+By+2021/-/E-RES136173
Virto Commerce. The 10 most strategic B2B ecommerce trends for 2021 and beyond. 2021.