Published 12th January
2024 is set to be a year of significant digital transformation in B2B E-Commerce. The B2B selling landscape is no longer just a platform for transactions but a crucial element in defining customer relationships and operational efficiencies. By 2025, for example, most B2B transactions will be digital, according to Garner’s Future of Sales report.
Enterprise level businesses are also expected to begin investing in E-Commerce style capabilities and digital sales processes to meet evolving buyer expectations. For example, given that 73% of all professional B2B purchasing decisions are made by millennials, the increasing assumption is that B2B companies will offer the same seamless purchasing experience as B2C. Combine this with flexible payment options, a mobile first approach, and self-service B2B buying options, and you have a very different landscape for B2B selling.
In this article, we’ll provide you with 5 of the most prominent predictions and trends in B2B E-Commerce. Expand the sections below to learn more!
2024 B2B E-Commerce Trends
The push towards more personalised shopping experiences in B2B E-Commerce is becoming increasingly
sophisticated. Leveraging customer data for tailored product recommendations and content
personalisation is now a staple of the B2B online shopping experience.
For example, a McKinsey survey found that customers prefer personalised experiences, with 67% expressing frustration when this doesn’t happen. This trend not only improves customer satisfaction but also enhances conversion rates and fosters customer loyalty. As a response, businesses are increasingly using AI and analytics to understand customer preferences and customise the online shopping experience to meet their specific needs.
Despite this shift, however, 40% of B2B companies report that personalisation is a significant
challenge, indicating both the complexity and the opportunity for growth in this area. Winners in this
area will be businesses that are able to solve effective personalisation for B2B selling.
While personalisation may be difficult to accomplish in B2B, around 68% of B2B companies use behavioural and transactional data to drive personaliation on their websites. The most effective personalisation tactics in B2B include personalising site search results, payment and shipping options, and product recommendations.
Top tip: Implement a robust customer relationship management (CRM) system that collects and analyses customer data. Use this data to create hyper-personalised email campaigns and website experiences that cater to the individual preferences and purchasing history of each B2B customer.
Omnichannel sales strategies, which aim to provide a seamless shopping experience across various channels, are increasingly being adopted in B2B E-Commerce. This approach focuses on delivering a consistent and connected customer experience, integrating digital and physical touchpoints. The shift towards omnichannel reflects the diverse needs of B2B buyers, who now expect to connect with merchants through as many as 10 different channels. This strategy enhances customer engagement and provides more touchpoints for sales, making it an essential aspect of modern B2B commerce.
McKinsey’s research confirms that omnichannel is not just a temporary trend or a pandemic workaround but a critically important fixture for B2B sales globally. A significant 83% of B2B leaders believe that omnichannel selling is more successful in prospecting and securing new business than traditional face-to-face only sales approaches. This sentiment has grown sharply, up from 54% at the start of the pandemic to 83% by February 2021.
To learn more about how Two can help you sell across multiple sales channels, check out our Order Creator! Instant payment terms for offline customers.
Top tip: Invest in an integrated omnichannel solution that aligns your sales, marketing, and customer service efforts across all platforms. Regularly train your team on the importance of a seamless customer experience, whether the interaction is online, via phone, or in person.
Self-service portals are also gaining popularity in B2B E-Commerce. These platforms enable customers to independently research, compare products, and manage transactions, catering to the growing preference for digital or remote services. It highlights the importance of providing customers with the tools and information they need to make informed purchasing decisions without necessarily interacting directly with sales representatives.
But why are self-service portals becoming popular?
1. Enhanced Customer Experience: B2B buyers increasingly prefer self-service options for convenience and efficiency. Self-service portals provide customers with the ability to manage their transactions, access necessary resources, and gather information independently, without the need for direct contact with sales representatives. This autonomy in managing purchases and accessing information empowers customers and enhances their overall experience with the brand.
2. Operational Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness: For businesses, self-service portals streamline operations and reduce the burden on customer service teams. By allowing customers to handle routine inquiries and transactions themselves, businesses can allocate resources more effectively and focus on more complex customer needs and strategic initiatives.
3. Increased Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty: Providing a self-service environment does not eliminate the need for sales representatives; instead, it complements their role by offering additional channels for customer interaction. This multi-channel approach increases customer satisfaction and can lead to greater customer loyalty.
Top tip: Develop a comprehensive, user-friendly self-service portal. Include features like AI-powered chatbots for instant assistance, detailed product information, video tutorials, and a straightforward process for ordering and managing transactions.
The trend of online Marketplaces in B2B E-Commerce is projected to continue evolving and expanding in 2024. By 2025, for example, Gartner expects 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers to occur in digital channels. The global nature of many B2B marketplaces allows for cross-border transactions, making it easier for businesses to source products and services from around the world. This globalisation of commerce contributes to the growth in marketplace sales.
The increasing demand for efficient procurement processes is another key driver behind the growth of B2B online marketplaces. These platforms are significantly transforming the procurement process in B2B commerce by digitising transactions and consolidating multiple suppliers into a single, easily accessible online platform. Ultimately, B2B marketplaces foster trust and ensure quality by carefully selecting suppliers and setting service level agreements (SLAs), enhancing the online purchasing experience for buyers. These marketplaces are becoming crucial in simplifying procurement processes, saving time, and ensuring quality transactions, making them an attractive option for B2B transactions.
A Forrester survey indicates that 52% of B2B leaders
prioritise personalisation, using customer data to tailor the buyer's journey. Personalising product recommendations and communication can improve user
experience and increase B2B sales.
This trend is driven by the expectation of B2B buyers for more relevant and targeted messages from brands, and the need for B2B brands to match B2C brands in terms of personalising shopping experiences. Additionally, the operational simplification of B2B BNPL has been shown to lead to some considerable administrative improvements.
3. Mobile optimisation
Given the substantial growth of the global mobile commerce market, B2B companies are also prioritising
mobile-friendly websites and apps. The mobile customer experience is crucial, as statistics show a
significant likelihood of customers avoiding purchases after a negative mobile experience.
Retail E-Commerce sales via mobile devices in the United States alone are expected to grow substantially, emphasising the need for B2B E-Commerce stores to optimise for mobile.
Top tip: Utilise analytics to understand not just buyer behaviour but also how your offerings complement and enhance the marketplace's value proposition. Emphasise the unique benefits your product brings to both buyers and sellers, like streamlined payment processes or improved operational efficiency.
B2B Buy Now Pay Later is not just a repackaging of traditional traditional trade credit. It's an effort to modernise outdated processes to meet today’s buyers' and sellers' standards. The rise of BNPL in B2B brings with it innovations like sophisticated credit underwriting and risk assessments, tailored for the unique complexities of B2B transactions, offering a more streamlined, efficient approach compared to the traditional trade credit methods.
1. Sophisticated Risk Management: One of the key features of B2B BNPL is its use of advanced risk management techniques. Traditional credit assessments in B2B transactions can be complex and time-consuming. B2B BNPL solutions simplify this process, offering a more dynamic and responsive approach to credit underwriting. On a more global scale, partnerships between Allianz Trade, Santander, and Two, for example, make it possible for large multinational organisations to facilitate cross border B2B BNPL transactions.
2. Impact on Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs): SMBs often face higher financing rejection rates from traditional banks. B2B BNPL provides these businesses with an alternative financing solution, helping to alleviate liquidity constraints. The adoption of digital technologies post-COVID-19 has further accelerated the need for real-time credit solutions, a gap that B2B BNPL is well-positioned to fill. For example, Two’s merchants have seen considerable success accessing working capital that was previously tied up, boosting average order value, and reducing admin.
3. Integration into Business Systems: B2B BNPL is designed to integrate seamlessly into existing business financial systems. This integration facilitates real-time decision-making and streamlines payment processes, making it more efficient compared to traditional methods. It allows businesses to manage their cash flow more effectively, with the added advantage of digital tracking and reporting capabilities.
4. Operational Efficiency: The advantages of B2B BNPL are not just limited to risk management and improved cash flow. Advanced BNPL providers also allow sellers to drastically improve their operational efficiency by offsetting time-consuming processes such as payment reconciliation and dunning. Invoice management and payment collection is a massively inefficient process for businesses, with many companies dedicating multiple days a week just to issue and collect payments.
A 2022 Barclays study revealed that 58% of SMEs experienced late invoice payments from customers. For medium-sized enterprises with 50 to 249 staff, the number waiting on late payments soared to 94%. B2B BNPL providers like Two, however, handle all invoicing and reconciliation automatically. This allows businesses to save anywhere from 15 hours to 20 hours a week on average, although that’s certainly not the limit.
Top tip: Collaborate with a reputable B2B BNPL provider (like Two!) to offer flexible payment options to your customers. Ensure the integration of this service is seamless within your e-commerce platform and provide clear communication to your customers about how it works and its benefits.
Embracing these trends is not merely about keeping up with the times; it's about leveraging the opportunities they present for growth, customer engagement, and operational efficiency.
To learn more about how Two can help you grow B2B sales, drastically reduce admin, and offset credit and fraud risk*, make sure to get in touch!
*Two may not provide the credit or fraud risk assessment depending on certain variables such as market or solution chosen.