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B2B eCommerce: 5 Top Trends to Watch for in 2016

Blog-bannerWith 2016 almost upon us, we’d like to share our thoughts on what’s in store in the coming year.

The good news? B2B eCommerce is only set to grow further. In fact, according to one report, global B2B eCommerce sales will reach $7 trillion by the year 2020. Manufacturers and wholesalers have no choice – in order to stay ahead of the competition, they must do whatever it takes to stay relevant in this space, which includes adapting to newer versions of software. Our “eCommerce Trends 2015” blog discussed innovations such as big data analytics tools, m-commerce, and e-wallets that would boost eCommerce sales of wholesalers and manufacturers. Some of these trends are proving applicable for 2016, too, but are obviously more evolved compared to last year. Here are five key trends that we think are worth tracking:

  1. Technology investments are set to grow- B2B eCommerce will be a much bigger buzzword for wholesalers than for retailers. According to Forrester, in just three years, wholesalers and manufacturers will beat out retailers in eCommerce technology investments, accounting for 30% of total spending (up from 20% in 2013). This comes with the increasing realization that B2B companies need to better manage inventory, distribution, and pricing decisions.
  2. M-commerce is becoming a fast-growing platform- Buying through mobile will mushroom. M-commerce will definitely grow this coming year with B2B buyers – not only in the purchase phase, but also in the research phase on their mobile devices. According to Forrester, 52% of B2B buyers are doing product research with their smartphones, and if they’re using their phones to search for products, browse catalogs, and read reviews, their purchase decisions will be largely driven through that mobile platform.
  3. The customer experience makes all the difference- The concept of the customer experience has received a lot of attention in recent years, primarily from B2C companies and retailers. It involves the combination of people, processes, and technology to understand, anticipate, and consistently deliver exceptional personalized experiences across all touch points. Today’s B2B buyers find themselves in the same situation as they are increasingly influenced by their personal buying experiences, and are demanding similar experiences in their professional lives. B2B firms are recognizing and accepting that the customer experience can be a driver for both differentiation and profitability. For marketers, this will mean a much more systematic and intentional focus on the entire customer experience: delivering a consistent experience, regardless of channel or device, and in a way that is consistent with the brand promise.
    In the case of B2B eCommerce sales, buyers want as much detail as possible from both a written and visual perspective. All retailers should provide merchandising guidelines, high-resolution images, product specifications and rich content. Providing in-depth detail and great visuals will convince the buyer that they are making the right choice.
  4. A choice of eCommerce models provides more opportunities- B2B eCommerce has two defined models: Marketplace and Direct. The Marketplace model involves selling products alongside competitors through platforms such as Amazon Business, Tradescraper, and Kinnek. This type of B2B e-marketplace will deliver growth and promise market opportunity which, in turn, will attract business from wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers.The other model, Direct, is when a company has its own webstore where customers create an account and make direct purchases. Out of the two models, it appears that the Marketplace model is a fast-growing trend that’s bringing fierce competition to the table. The new B2B Marketplace approach is helping both sellers and buyers enter the eCommerce space.
  5. Contactless payments and mobile wallets are on the rise- Research studies point to the rise of mobile wallets, or e-wallets, with a number of players entering the fray. It’s expected that the increased level of activity will help evolve the sophistication of mobile wallets. Providers of mobile wallets need to make substantial improvements, including providing adequate security measures to motivate buyers to start using mobile wallets in B2B scenarios.These trends are going to reshape the B2B marketplace in 2016. If your company hasn’t started adopting these innovations, take advantage of the New Year to strategize and capitalize on some of these eCommerce trends.

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