Navigating the perfect storm – The eCommerce future of B2B
Strategists predict that by 2019 B2B firms will spend more on e-commerce technology than online retailers. But why is this? In an area that has long been rejected or at best neglected by B2B’s there’s been an awakening in the force as a new generation take up the buying helm.
With the average age of a B2B buyer now being under 35, we are officially in the hands of the Millennials, which probably accounts for why there’s been more than a 25% increase in B2B buyers making more than half of their purchases online in the past 3 years. So what are the key areas to invest in over the next couple of years to secure our share of the projected £4.5 trillion B2B e-commerce worldwide market?
For 64% of those surveyed in the 2017 Gorilla B2B eCommerce Benchmarking Report*, that investment will be in their e-commerce platform. With the lines between B2B and B2C blurring, e-commerce trends are increasingly agnostic. The noise around replacing B2B/B2C terminology in favour of H2H (Human to Human) is increasing in volume, motivated by the need to communicate on a personal and emotional level.
Buyers want product variety, competitive pricing and exceptional service. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 40% of B2B digital commerce sites will use price optimisation algorithms and configure, price, quote tools to calculate and deliver product pricing dynamically. B2B customers expect to interact with a site that represents accurate inventory and provides a streamlined path to purchase with multiple payment options. Providing omnichannel customer-centric experiences seamlessly integrated with back-office operations (accounting, stock control and order fulfilment) has never been more important.
Making a buyer’s life easy is the key to success. Simplifying the placement of orders through serving pre-saved information and providing the ability to replicate previous orders at the click of a button will tell your customer that you understand their needs and value their time. Displaying pricing and offers that are clearly customer specific eliminates the inefficiencies of fact-checking calls to account managers or customer services.
Customer intelligence is vital. With their data at our fingertips and intelligent systems at our disposal, we can be customising their user experience from site login with personalised homepage representation based on customer type, location or contract type. Automated marketing tools can email product recommendations on the basis of order history, offer relevant promotions and issue prompts where accounts have been unusually inactive.
To conclude, the e-commerce future of B2B is clear, give your millennial audience what they want. Make their life easy, your systems intuitive. If B2C are doing it, consider the case for potential adoption. Make your product easy to find, prioritise user experience and use your data to market intelligently.
By Simon Phillips (NetXtra-ecommerce.net)
I’m excited to be speaking on ‘The e-commerce future of B2B’ at this year’s B2B Marketing Expo on 22nd March in Theatre 18 at 11:45. Do come and say hello or visit us on Stand 1280 or online at www.netxtra-ecommerce.net