Top 7 B2B Ecommerce Trends to Transform Your Business

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As the business-to-business (B2B) industry continues to evolve, ecommerce has emerged as more than a nice to have — it’s a must-have. The last few years of explosive ecommerce growth have intensified the need for B2B businesses to shift their focus online. 

Unsurprisingly, Digital Commerce 360 reports that 42% of distributors say creating a more sophisticated website to better meet customers' needs is their biggest challenge for the coming year.

To help you stay up to date, we’ve narrowed it down and pulled together the latest B2B ecommerce trends that we think will have the biggest impact on your business.

B2B Ecommerce Statistics

B2B ecommerce is here. According to Digital Commerce 360, in 2021, online sales on B2B ecommerce sites, log-in portals and marketplaces increased 17.8% to $1.63 trillion. Statista data suggests that the North American B2B ecommerce market will surpass $4,600 billion by 2025.

It’s clear ecommerce itself is no longer a trendy new channel that B2B companies are exploring. Instead, McKinsey & Company reports that about 65% of B2B companies across industries are fully transacting online in 2022. And for the first time, B2Bs are more likely to offer ecommerce over in-person sales.

Why? Because ecommerce drives revenue. The same study from Mckinsey & Company shows that about 18% of B2Bs’ revenue is coming directly from ecommerce. Higher than phone, email and video conferencing.

This correlates with data shared from Wonderman Thomson on the buyer side, which revealed that as of 2021, 49% of B2B buying across the UK, US and China occurs online. 

Still, to succeed with B2B ecommerce, it’s no longer acceptable to have a basic website or subpar customer experience. 

Yet, 52% of B2B buyers report that they’re frustrated with the online buying experience. And even more detrimental, a staggering 90% of B2B buyers would turn to a competitor if a supplier’s digital channel couldn’t keep up with their needs.

To deliver the shopping experiences buyers have come to expect, B2Bs must prioritize their digital transformation in 2022.

How to Determine if a Trend Makes Sense for You

Not every trend is worth jumping on at the same time, so which should you prioritize first? While some will provide a huge value-add, others might be out of touch with your particular audience or might be too costly to implement for your business to maintain a reasonable ROI.

Knowing what trends will be a good fit for you will often come down to knowing your own customers, vertical, and competitors backwards and forwards. There's several things you can do to evaluate industry trends and make the right move for your business.

Stay up to date with industry reports and data.

Every industry changes at some point or another, and staying up to date via reports and data can show you where things are headed. 

The numbers in these reports often come from original research you can trust, instead of just following the popular word-on-the-street. Plus, when you're regularly aware of what's happening in your industry, you'll get a sense of which trends are worth the effort and which ones can wait.

Assess your customers' behaviors.

One of the biggest advantages of B2B ecommerce is that you have first-party customer data. In fact, when we spoke to Kees Olthof, the senior manager of consumer experience at Gildan about digital transformation, he emphasized the importance of data and how to use it to gather more information about customer behavior.

“I would say to any other B2B company, when you shift your business online, take the opportunity to become more data-driven. That’s something you can do very well online but not so much offline. Quantitative data is more the “what” that you can get out of your web analytics. On the other hand, the qualitative data is the “why,” which you can learn from onsite surveys and feedback. Then, work on shifting your culture to be open minded and continue to validate your assumptions.”

Ask for feedback from your B2B customers.

Another option is to reach out to customers directly to better understand their pain points and how you can solve them. Getting feedback from current customers can give you insight into trends, help you create more specific plans for the future — and you never know, a customer might even suggest an idea you hadn't thought of yet.

Evaluate what your competitors are doing.

Take a look at your competitors. Did they jump on a specific trend? If so, how did it work for them? Of course, you don't have to do everything your competition is doing, but being aware is another way to measure how successful a trend might be for your business.

The Final Word

While 2020 and 2021 were all about getting online for B2B businesses, 2022 (and beyond) will be about optimizing your online experience to keep up with ever-evolving buyer expectations.

With that in mind, B2Bs should focus on these emerging trends we’ve identified, including leaving behind legacy systems, investing in ecommerce technology, personalizing the shopping experience and exploring new sales channels. 

And although it might seem necessary to prioritize them all, the key to success will be gathering data about your customers and building your digital transformation strategy. Because once you have that in place, you can use it as your roadmap to success.

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