The last two years have been marked with unprecedented perseverance, creativity, and new perspectives on the best ways to run a business. Amid countless industry changes and obstacles, B2B e-commerce has continued to see large upturns in growth and revenues.
An example of B2B eCommerce on a large scale includes the purchasing and selling of textiles, specialty mechanical parts, or other manufactured materials. On a smaller scale, it can include sites such as Alibaba or AliExpress; where businesses are purchasing from other businesses with the intent to resell the products for their own company.
With figures like e-retail sales accounting for 21% of all global retail sales and projected to reach 24.5% by 2025, the importance of B2B eCommerce, online wholesale, and eCommerce as a whole will continue to grow.
This post will provide a look into some of the most popular B2B e-commerce trends in 2020 that brands can implement to thrive and take business to the next level.
1. Transparency is key
It goes without saying that transparency is critical to the success of any business, especially as more and more business transactions are moving online.
Traditionally, buyers had more opportunities to meet up with brands in person at trade shows and in real-life showrooms. This type of face-to-face interaction offered an opportunity to touch products and ask direct questions about quality and pricing. Due to advances in B2B e-commerce tech, more and more buying interactions are happening virtually.
But, that doesn’t mean that transparency about quality and pricing is any less important. 44% of B2B buyers say they want clear pricing on eCommerce sites. Brands that can deliver transparent pricing and quality information, as well as a fluid user experience via smart technology, will win over brands that don’t.
2. Buyers value personalized shopping experiences
Not only is transparency key in the online shopping world, but so are personalized experiences. More and more buyers crave shopping experiences that are data-driven and tailored to the needs of their retail customers.
When shopping online, stats show that one in three buyers chose to purchase from brands that personalize with AI, predictive ordering functionality, customized product catalogs, and one-click reordering, to name a few critical personalization features.
Brands that invest in personalization tools like data-collection software, enterprise resource planning software, and a customizable B2B eCommerce platform that digitizes your unique selling process will stand out in the crowd.
3. B2B online marketplaces and niche marketplaces are booming
As of now, 26% of B2B buyers say online marketplaces are their most preferred purchasing channel, and Sapio’s research into the B2B buying process shows that only 6% of B2B buyers do not currently use online marketplaces.
The numbers reflect the popularity of online marketplaces as they are projected to account for 40% of the global online retail market. Gartner projected that this trend will continue throughout the next few, and that 75% of B2B procurement spending will happen via the online marketplace.
Online marketplaces will remain popular throughout 2022 and continue to gain traction, but there is one more important shift for brands and buyers to keep in mind.
With more demand for tailored shopping experiences, the market is seeing more specialized niche online marketplaces.
One such example is Amazon’s dive into the healthcare industry to enable more medical supply sales online. Smaller online marketplaces and e-commerce solutions are providing niche selling experiences this year too.
In the wholesale world specifically, the industry is seeing more marketplaces and e-commerce tools for buyers to attend full-fledged online trade shows.
An excellent way for brands to engage buyers is to take a closer look at online marketplaces and the tools that facilitate online B2B buying and selling.
4. More B2B leaders believe digital self-service is essential
Before 2020’s global pandemic, 48% of B2B buyers said that self-service was more important than traditional sales interactions, according to research by McKinsey & Company.
Throughout and after the pandemic, that number increased by 18%, with 66% of buyers saying they preferred self-service options due to COVID-19.
While buyers demand more e-commerce solutions, it’s critical for brands to remember that not all solutions are created equal.
McKinsey & Company also learned that the top-three most frustrating issues with suppliers’ websites included the length of the ordering process (36%), difficulty finding products (34%), and technical glitches with ordering (33%).
It’s important for buyers to invest in e-commerce solutions, not just any self-service solution. Brands that make it easy for buyers to make purchases, find what buyers are looking for, and that provide a seamless user experience will experience more success.
Additionally, while the onset of COVID-19 rapidly increased the need for smart e-commerce platforms, the trend of using digital selling solutions continued post-COVID-19. In fact, 80% of decision-makers say that they will retain their new selling model for at least 12 months after the pandemic ends.
This move toward online selling and buying will continue in the future, making now the perfect time for wholesale brands to digitize and making this a very easy B2B eCommerce trend to implement into your business.
5. The Agile methodology is a great way to move through COVID-19
If there is one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that you never know what challenges are going to present themselves and how they will affect the business world. As such, it’s critical for brands to be flexible and find ways to adapt to changes. One way to do this is to adopt the Agile methodology.
The Agile methodology is a project management process that focuses on communication and feedback and quickly adapting to change.
Experts say Agile is the best methodology to move successfully through issues that may arise because it allows team members to make quick shifts and move forward during uncertainty. Agile also focuses on collaborative communication (even virtually), and encourages all team members to make speedy decisions and react quickly to customer needs.
Agile is a recipe for success during challenging times, such as COVID-19 and the 2008 economic recession. McKinsey reports that companies that adopted a through-cycle mindset did the best in 2008, and will be best positioned to move out of the downturn.
6. There’s a shift toward quick order fulfillment and delivery
As more B2B companies participate in swift digital transformation, customers aren’t willing to allow for lags in fulfillment and delivery. Customers expect the same fast shipping options that long-time B2C companies provide.
In fact, a recent study shows that 94% of B2B buyers expect the same level of customer satisfaction they get when they make personal purchases. To get more concrete, these customer satisfaction expectations include things like low-cost, transparency, and quick delivery of goods, according to CCJ Digital.
Millennials are particularly demanding when it comes to expecting quick delivery. Statistics show that 56% of millennials expect same-day delivery.
Why do Millennial expectations matter to B2B e-commerce brands?
Statistics show that 73% of Millennial workers are involved in B2B purchasing decisions. Research by TrustRadius shows that over 45% of B2B tech buyers are 25-34 years old, meaning Millennials are the largest B2B buying demographic.
To keep up with buyer demands, especially among Millennial buyers, B2B e-commerce brands may consider fulfillment and delivery solutions by partnering up with a third-party logistic company and look into providing enhanced shipping options from the get-go.
Another idea is to automate the warehousing process. Automation typically reduces human error and makes the fulfillment process more efficient.
Either way, investing in lightning-fast order fulfillment and shipping is one of the B2B eCommerce trends that comes along with more companies undergoing quick digital transformations in 2022.
7. Buyers want more payment options
As B2B wholesale brands move sales online and adopt e-commerce sales technology, it’s important to remember to make the payment process seamless.
B2B buyers have a lot on their plates, including making purchases, managing cash flow, and budgets. E-commerce brands should do everything in their power to make the payment process easy for buyers. Experts recommend re-evaluating your payment options to see if your brand needs upgrades.
The more flexibility and personal value you offer to your B2B buyers, the higher your conversions will be. In fact, stats show that if you offer the three most used payment options to your buyers, you can boost your sales by up to 71%.
In terms of B2B transactions, most brands probably already offer payment via major credit cards. Other ideas include implementing payment plans, providing purchase orders, or even extending credit.
Another idea is to invest in a top-tier e-commerce payment solution that allows all integrations including major credit cards, ApplePay, PayPal, Amazon Pay, money orders, BitCoin, Venmo, and more.
As 2022 continues, take the time to evaluate and optimize your payment options.
8. An excellent customer experience is essential
Another one of the top 2022 B2B eCommerce trends is the need to provide a stellar user experience for your retailers. Excellent customer and user experience is essential, and buyers are willing to pay more for a good experience.
To convert your buyers into loyal customers and provide these desired good experiences, make it easy for users to navigate your website and use your chosen e-commerce solutions.
Consider using a B2B e-commerce selling solution that makes it easy to connect with customers, communicate clearly, schedule virtual meetings, and show off your products in a digital environment.
Providing a great customer experience is also about making it easy to navigate your line sheets, view your products with ease, and make an order with no hitches. And, don’t skimp on design, content production, quality product image resolutions, or product descriptions.
9. Brands must be optimizing for a mobile experience
We live in a world where almost everything revolves around smartphones. It only makes sense to optimize your site and services for mobile use. Especially as millennials and younger generations start to make up a large majority of purchasing power, having a seamless mobile experience is invaluable.
10. Wholesale is here to stay
Wholesale is still one of the biggest revenue drivers for brands in 2022. In NuORDER’s upcoming State of the Wholesale Industry Report, nearly all respondents reported that wholesale is the channel they are investing in the most.
While the report showed that there was insecurity about how brands viewed the future of wholesale after COVID-19, the overall sentiment was that retail isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Be sure to subscribe to our email list to be the first to get the key findings and insights of our report.
The last 2 years truly have been difficult for many industries. Simultaneously, many have risen to the occasion and leveraged tech to advance their businesses. While the B2B ecommerce industry has been an outlier and seen unprecedented boosts in revenue, that doesn’t mean these changes have been easy to navigate.
B2B ecommerce brands have had to be adaptable, adopt the agile methodology, and be willing to move their products, resources, and sales processes all online. In 2022, these B2B ecommerce trends will continue to be factors in the sucess and ease of business of B2B based companies.
The good news is companies like NuORDER have been preparing for these quick shifts to a digital wholesale world. With the NuORDER e-commerce selling solution, it’s easy to scale your wholesale brand. For more information about how brands and retailers can easily collaborate online with the help of NuORDER, schedule a demo today.