A lot has happened over the last year. The pandemic brought about many changes in various sectors, and many of those developments had a negative impact on the sectors in question, there were also some positive changes. For example, many businesses became more aware of the need to revise their mode of operation and adapt to new trends. The B2B eCommerce world saw many developments, with many people using the internet more actively than ever before to do their shopping.
However, it’s questionable if this is a trend that can be realistically expected to develop further, or if it will subside over time. Let’s have a look at how the situation has changed across the board in the eCommerce B2B world, and what other developments we can expect in the near future.
A Demographic Shift
There have been lots of changes in buyer demographics over the last year, and this has had a major impact on the growth of the B2B eCommerce sector. Business leadership has largely solidified around Gen X, while the majority of B2B buyers tend to be millennials. The people who actively use these platforms already have experience with using B2C eCommerce platforms, which some see as an inherent advantage in their ability to adapt. At the same time, it’s important to note that B2B and B2C feature very different buying processes.
Many companies have shifted their focus to their digital channels, and have been doing their best to address the new customer concerns that have arisen as a result. Customers are more used to looking up the brands they’re after on different platforms, and doing more research for their purchases. 2021 could see many B2B companies prioritizing the digital buying experience above everything else, with special emphasis placed on digital marketing.
Buying vs Building
The days of building custom eCommerce platforms from scratch are over. Most businesses prefer to use readily available platforms, and the market certainly has no shortage of variety in this regard. Many of those platforms offer extensive customization, allowing companies to adapt them to their needs with little effort. Compared to the huge undertaking that is building a new platform from the ground up, that’s a significant improvement for those who want to open their own digital storefronts.
Dealing with New Security Risks
As it usually happens in any sector that sees digital growth, new security risks have emerged that have to be dealt with accordingly. Remote working has changed the landscape significantly. Many companies are now paying active attention to the threat of having their customer data compromised. It will be crucial for companies that want to survive in the new climate to adopt a modern approach to their security, and to revise their current practices from top to bottom. Attackers are known to exploit situations of confusion and market instability, and the pandemic has certainly created an attractive environment for them in this regard.
Rapid Expansion of Marketplaces
Various businesses have realized that they need to establish a solid presence within the marketplace ecosystem in order to maintain their momentum. Amazon is already one step ahead of many with the growth of Amazon Business, but we’ve been seeing the emergence of alternative marketplaces as well. This will likely proceed similarly to what we saw in the B2C market, where a large number of companies sprung up and diversified the situation beyond the titans Amazon and eBay.
Progressive Web Applications
With the rise in use of mobile devices, brands will have to adapt by adopting headless solutions and progressive web applications (PWA). This will enable them to reap the full benefits provided by the growing mobile market. At the same time, the use of desktop devices has been on a sharp decline, which could further promote this trend in the near future. PWAs have many attractive benefits to customers, such as the fact that they can deliver fully interactive, customized content without the need to download and install a specific app.
Stronger Focus on Self-services
Just like B2C buyers, business buyers are doing a lot of their research online before committing to a purchase these days. Usually, there’s an implied expectation that they would be able to complete a purchase using the same platforms. More and more people prefer to use self-service tools to handle as much of the buying process as possible. Ideally, customers don’t want to interact with any sales agents. This has boosted the importance of providing an adequate, fully featured self-service experience.
More Personalization, Better Customer Experience
On a related note, businesses are now expected to offer a more personalized experience to improve the process for the average customer and streamline their purchases. Modern eCommerce platforms can handle that to a great extent, delivering personalized storefronts, product search results and recommendations to their users. Many buyers have indicated that they are willing to spend more on a personalized experience – both in the B2B and B2C sectors.
One of the more notable benefits of modern B2B eCommerce solutions is that they are able to leverage automation to increase employee productivity by a noticeable margin. Many processes that used to require a lot of repetitive manual work can now be automated, allowing companies to boost their productivity and even eliminate certain tasks completely. This will prove particularly useful if we are hit by other major global developments down the road. But it will take some time to see the full impact of these changes.
2021 is certainly looking like a strong year for B2B eCommerce, and many companies have been hard at work adapting their workflow to the recent changes. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and whether some of those trends will establish a permanent place for themselves in the new climate. One thing is certain though – those that continue to put off investing into their B2B eCommerce development are going to be left behind and will suffer the consequences when their competitors are able to maintain a stable position in the years to come.
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