COVID-19 Isn’t the Only Thing Shaking Up the World of B2B eCommerce
B2B ecommerce is growing nine-times faster than all U.S. manufacturing and distributor/wholesaler sales.1 Broad factors are at play above and beyond the impacts of the virus. The growing influence of millennials, increases in personalization, the rise of omnichannel offerings and an evolving B2B payments ecosystem are all driving growth in the sector.
Here Are the Top B2B eCommerce Trends 2020
1. Millennials to the Fore
A generational shift is underway as millennials exert their influence on buying decisions. Already, 73% of millennials are providing input and 34% have assumed the role of decision-maker in B2B ecommerce purchasing.2 These digital natives expect B2C-like buying experiences with a high-degree of self-service and customization. They are comfortable using a broad array of channels, and require lightning fast customer service.
Personalization has been a force in B2C for some time but it is now emerging in B2B as well. Gartner “anticipate(s) that personalization will quickly become ‘table stakes’ in B2B (e)commerce”3 but with unique differences from B2C. In B2C, personalization delivers results such as product recommendations and specific offers based on previous actions, browsing behavior, or purchase history. In B2B, a top focus will be on ease of repurchasing. B2B Customers identify predictive ordering and artificial intelligence (AI) as top priorities.4
3. Omnichannel Experiences
As far back as 2015, McKinsey reported that the average B2B customer used six different interaction channels within their buying process.5 Flexibility and a seamless experience across multiple platforms are what your customers expect. In the current environment, 61% of B2B companies plan to implement omnichannel6 initiatives soon, while Forrester reports that at least one-third have already taken the first step.7
4. AR and VR Bring In-Person Experiences to Digital Purchasing
Moving beyond the realm of science fiction, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have a home in B2B8. They are especially useful in relaying highly detailed information on products, particularly those that are design-based. As an example, Hololens from Microsoft utilizes “hyper-realistic AR headsets to allow partners, remote team members and potential customers to get a hands-on feel for products.9”
5. More Say in How They Pay
Large-scale and international digital commerce demand that businesses offer multiple payment options with a particular emphasis on those payment methods that are preferred in the regions where they do business. More flexibility is required when dealing with international customers. New payment methods such as real-time bank transfers and ewallets can help to alleviate cross-border payment friction. B2B payment trends in 2020 include a great adoption of bank transfers, real-time payment rails and the adoption of fintech as a service to simplify B2B payments and payouts.
What It Takes to Succeed in B2B eCommerce
B2B ecommerce statistics and trends deliver a clear message: in order to succeed, it will be necessary to adopt business processes and practices that give customers what they want. As Brian Beck, an ecommerce expert with Enceiba, has said: “Trends are only speeding up, and the longer companies wait to put digital at the center of everything, the more likely these businesses will not be able to compete with those that are digitally transforming themselves.10”
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- https://pkglobal.co2020 B2B Ecommerce Market Reportm/blog/2019/09/on-their-terms-millennials-shift-the-b2b-buying-journey/
- Gartner, Survey Analysis: How B2B Sellers Are Leveraging Digital Commerce