Today’s B2B e-commerce business trends borrow from yesterday’s business trends. While this has been the norm since the era of barter trade, people didn’t have to rely almost solely on technology to keep their businesses afloat until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Businesses learned to rely on technology to navigate the challenging changes, and 2021 has been more promising for people who thought their businesses may never recover and the economy as a whole.
However, some of the coping mechanisms that businesses adopted will become a staple moving forward largely because they promise ease and efficiency for both businesses and customers.
This article highlights aspects of B2B e-commerce in 2021 that will crossover into 2022 and how to stay competitive.
3 Top B2B Trends from 2021 that Will Influence 2022
Despite the initial reluctance of B2B businesses in embracing e-commerce, B2B brands have been increasingly adopting digital tools to boost sales and it’s paying off.
According to research, the global B2B e-commerce market size was valued at USD 6.64 trillion in 2020 and is projected to expand at a CAGR of 18.7% from 2021 to 2028. Here are the top trends running B2B e-commerce that are here for the long haul.
1. B2B buyers and sellers prefer digital operations
According to McKinsey, only about 20% of B2B buyers would like to get back to in-person sales, including sectors where field-sales models are normal and expected -such as pharmaceuticals and medical products.
Additionally, more than three-quarters of buyers and sellers prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement to one-on-one interactions. To top it all, these sentiments are increasing even after the lift on lockdowns.
While digital transactions provide safety from infection, it’s hard to ignore the fact that they come with great ease and convenience which makes them better than traditional transactions in availing information and placing orders.
2. B2B buyers don’t mind making large purchases online
According to the same McKinsey report, 70% of B2B decision-makers say they’d make new, fully self-serve, or remote purchases worth more than $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000.
More than that, these decision-makers believe online selling is no different from in-person selling in terms of effectiveness. Sellers also believe that meeting prospects online is just as productive as meeting them in-person.
These facts point to a significant increase in trust in e-commerce among B2B customers and it’s hard to expect this to change in 2022.
3. Rise in customer experience personalization
As purchases and sales move online for B2B players, customer experience has become crucial in ensuring businesses attract and nurture prospects into quality leads.
The guiding principle here is that expectations for great CX are sky high regardless of whether the prospects belong to the B2B or B2C space.
Customers and clients don’t expect to be treated like statistics but as people with particular likes and dislikes. Also, they don’t expect you to flood their screens with ads for products they don’t care about.
To keep in line with this, B2B e-commerce businesses are running analytics on customers’ product content interactions to help tailor their experiences to their needs.
How These Trends Impact Competition in the B2B E-Commerce Space in 2022
Without a doubt, these trends mean that competition will keep getting stiffer. However, the only solution to competition is to stand out from the crowd. Here’s how you can do that.
1. Work on your website
Website statistics reveal that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive and 88% of consumers are unlikely to return to a site after a bad experience.
When your e-commerce pages are dated, have poor functionality, or it’s difficult to compare products accurately, these experiences make up for a bad experience. As the statistics confirm, web traffic always suffers and so do conversions and sales.
Aim to have a website with clear landing pages, an attractive layout, and simple categories that make it easy to find what a person needs.
2. Leverage SEO best practices
A study by Google revealed that 71% of B2B prospects key in generic search terms instead of brands. With a sound SEO strategy, you can rank high on search engines for your services or products instead of your brand name alone.
Beyond having clear product pages, optimize them to answer common FAQs. Good examples of these include product comparisons and features that differentiate one product from another.
Next, address these concerns in greater detail through long-form questions that decision-makers have and the pain points that your products or services address. Your brand name will become more familiar as you achieve your SEO goals.
3. Anticipate your customers’ needs
You can get to your customers before your competitors by always accurately predicting when your customers will run out of their products so you can remarket them.
To do this, start by mapping out the customer journey of your top personas to learn how customers likely go through your products or services.
Ideally, you need to find out your customers’ average buying cycle, when they begin budgeting, the amount of time it takes for them to choose your products as opposed to competitor products, the size of your shipping window, and how long it takes for them to decide whether they are satisfied with your products.
Once you’ve identified your customer’s buying patterns and journeys, use marketing automation tools to advertise your products at the right time.
4. Make it easy to contact you
In the era of offering good CX above all else, you can’t afford to be hard to reach. Examine your current landing pages to ensure your prospects can reach your sales team or product team as easily as they can the chatbot. You can also include the following changes to your landing pages:
- Display your phone numbers at the bottom and top of the pages
- Include a ‘contact us’ button beside the add to cart’ button
- Use pop-up chat boxes to engage users
- Be clear about your operation hours so your prospects don’t have to guess
These small alterations can make a world of difference to a prospect who needs advice before they make a purchase.
Change is inevitable for any industry but you don’t have to wait for another disruption to figure out how to run your B2B business in the face of any changes.
The best way to stay safe is to keep up to date through trusted reports and data sources in your industry to get a good idea of what to expect. Plus, when you’re always in touch with the latest in your space, you can always gauge which trends have a short lifespan and which ones are there to stay.