Once considered only as a medium for streamlining internal processes, digital transformation has assumed a different role in the B2B e-commerce sector. The pandemic brought about an acceleration in one 2020 trend: personalized online experiences, which created new dynamics in an evolving market.
With the advent of technology, B2B buyers are now looking for same offline experience they are used to in an online environment. According to the 2019 FPX Digital Transformation Study, 58% of respondents engaged in a digital transformation cited providing a better buying experience for customers as a key goal. As digital transformation advances across the globe, many organizations are realizing that the best way for this technology to deliver the ROI is to drive sales by improving the customer experience instead of focusing only on internal restructuring or operational improvement.
Igor Nikolenko, Co-founder & CEO of SupplyMe, a new online B2B marketplace that connects local food suppliers with restaurants, hotels, cafes, supermarkets, and other foodservice businesses of all sizes, discusses the top emerging trends in B2B e-commerce for 2021 and beyond.
Trend 1 – The need for efficiency
Achieving operational efficiency and delivering a better consumer experience is a primary objective when it comes to digital transformation and automation. Statista predicts that mobile e-commerce sales will account for 73% of worldwide e-commerce sales in 2021.
The sales representatives at any B2B organization follow a lot of workflows and processes, one example of this in the F&B industry is to replicate the same order for repeat customers – consuming a lot of time to complete. To help speed up this process efficiently, deliver an inspiring and immersive customer experience, brands can look at automating this task with the help of machine learning and the sales team can focus on executing value-adding tasks, improving the bottom line of the company. This would also benefit the customers a lot and make their buying experience more convenient.
Trend 2 – The demand for digital-first commerce
Technology, particularly as a communication tool, is an integral part of everyday life for millennials. With priorities being reinvented in 2020 and the millennial generation taking over executive-level realms at companies, brands looking to do business with them are trying to understand their habits and interact with them using channels they are present on.
42 percent of millennials use real-time messaging and social media while at work. This means that, as B2B buyers, they favor omnichannel communication methods for quick and instantly gratifying information, giving them everything they need in the most streamlined manner possible.
According to 2020 research by McKinsey & Company, more than 75% of B2B buyers say that they prefer purchasing online and prefer remote interactions with sales representatives over the traditional in-person interactions. This feeling has only been strengthened after the first lockdown was lifted, only 20% of B2B buyers said they want traditional in-person sales to return. In 2021, B2B brands are going to rethink its sales funnel to make sure they are meeting prospective clients where they are.
Trend 3 – The e-commerce evolution
The nature of today’s B2B buyers and their expectations of working with suppliers and partners has changed. It is essential for B2B suppliers to deliver the content, features, and experiences that their buyers experience and enjoy from their daily lives as B2C consumers. Forrester predicts that by 2023 B2B e-commerce will hit $1.8 trillion.
With majority of the decision makers being digital-savvy, the only way for a B2B brand to succeed at winning and keeping its customers is by providing added-value, which does not mean offering lower prices. It means optimizing the entire experience from research to delivery. A B2B ecommerce mobile app with the right B2B features can help brands just do that. The app can help businesses to tap into new and difficult-to-reach markets, prioritise customer service, lower operating costs and increase the bottom line.
For buyers, it can provide a seamless platform from ordering, payment, confirmation, shipping and tracking and in doing so, saves a significant amount of time.