B2B eCommerce is consistently growing and becoming a large part of all business sales in the United States. According to Forrester, B2B ecommerce will reach $1.2 trillion and account for 13.1% of all B2B sales in the U.S. by 2021. A report from the future of commerce shared that, “76% of retail executives across Europe and the USA have already built a B2B e-commerce ecosystem and 39% of them reported the eCommerce site is their main sales channel.” Forrester also predicts that the B2B eCommerce market is expected to be worth $1.1T compared to the B2C market at $480B. Below we are going to discuss the 5 B2B eCommerce trends to look out for in 2018 that digital business professionals (especially B2B sellers) should pay attention to if they want to keep up with the growing eCommerce market.
Below are the 5 B2B Ecommerce trends to follow in 2018:
1. Artificial Intelligence- Has been mentioned by a few a few popular sources as the next trend to shape the online business landscape. One of the draws of artificial intelligence is that AI will be able to focus on customer-centric searches in an eCommerce platform. The use of AI searches will allow business to reach new levels of personalization across their devices and enhance a customer’s buying experience.
2. Chatbots- Within the next 5 years chatbots are expected to be introduced to many P2P softwares. According to Gartner, a chatbot is a computer program that can simulate a conversation with a human being. They will be highly specialized and will be able to help guide users through the buying process. These chatbots will play an important role in the user experience and impact how each customer interacts with the B2B brand and whether or not they will recommend their experience to a friend which is important when a company is focused on increasing sales.
3. Focus on Customer Acquisition- Since B2B buyers are the focus of B2B eCommerce businesses, eCommerce businesses need to focus on where their customers are and how to grab their attention. eCommerce businesses can do this by focusing on their search engine optimization for their websites, “going direct” and selling products at individual prices rather than bulk similar to B2C, and to make sure that their B2B eCommerce software is up to date and meets their customers needs. A study by Forrester, “expects the number of B2B buyers who will complete at least half of their work purchases online to increase from 32% in 2014 to 53% by 2017.” With this high of purchases occurring, B2B companies will need to make sure that the experiences they provide completely satisfy the customer and exceed expectations. When planning a strategy customers should keep in mind the experience Amazon provides and work to match that kind of experience if not make it better.
4. Omnichannel/OmniPlatform- According to a business case performed by Forrester, “Omnichannel business-to-business (B2B) buyers are more active, generate more incremental revenue, and cost less to serve than single-channel customers.” The article goes on to describe how demanding and finicky B2B buyers are emphasizing the importance of building great omnichannel experiences. In order to do this, B2B eCommerce businesses are going to need to make sure their information is available on all devices: mobile, web, and catalog similar to a B2C seller. These platforms will need to have functionality and tools that customers are looking for.
5. Mobile eCommerce- As mobile becomes a bigger part of consumers lives, the importance of a seamless mobile experience for B2B customers becomes even more important. A study done by Google and Boston Consulting Group in September 2017 shared the importance of a seamless mobile experience with the following statistics:
Mobile influences an average of more than 40% of revenue in leading B2B organizations
50% of B2B search queries today are made on smartphones
Mobile usage for a B2B worker is expected to increase from 2 hours to 3 hours a day by 2020
Based on these statistics alone, B2B eCommerce businesses should be embracing mobile and figuring out how to create a mobile strategy. The mobile strategy should include a focus on experiences, key engagement points, and how to best utilize data they collect to improve experiences and drive brand loyalty. Especially since Boston Consulting Group expects B2B mobile searches to reach 70% by 2020.
Those are the 5 major B2B eCommerce trends for 2018. As with other trends in 2018, personalization and mobile are going to be key. Were there any trends on this list that surprised you? Or any that were not on this list that should be?