The Current Situation
The global B2B e-commerce market was estimated at a value of $10.6 trillion in 2018.
The highest market share is in the Asia Pacific, and in second and third place are North America and Europe. The leading players in the industry are Amazon Business and Alibaba.*
In a 2018 report, ‘The B2B Ecommerce Trends Report’ by BigCommerce, the changes happening in the industry are highlighted and how a B2B business can adapt and evolve accordingly in order to survive.
Usually, businesses are slow to adapt to changes that are happening in the industry. They first want proof that this is the way to go, so data is important. Big corporations’ success is what most often drives other companies to join on a trend – Amazon is a good example of this.
Why Businesses Should Focus More on Their Digital Platforms
The generation that came after the baby boomers, generation X, who as customers wanted a handheld experience with a sales representative. Now the typical buyer, a millennial, wants the same amount of personal experience as the previous generation, however, they want to achieve it online.
According to BigCommerce & Google, in 2014 almost half of B2B buyers are millennials, which is double the amount it was in 2012. The typical behavior buyer is clearly changing, so sellers need to change with it or lose customers in the long run.
However, the other 50% of B2B customers should not be forgotten entirely. After millennials, the largest age groups are the 35-44 and the 45-54-year-olds. Together they make up for a little over 40% of B2B buyers.
This new shift in the percentages cannot be ignored and is important to remember, especially for firms working in the business-to-business market.
Sellers need to move to online digital platforms and e-commerce softwares. According to the BigCommerce report, this has been happening longer than most would think: “48% [of B2B sellers] have been selling online for more than 5 years”. Despite this, managing relationships continues to be a key part of marketing for B2B businesses, considering 62% of B2B sellers report to acquire new customers by referrals or by word of mouth. At second place for obtaining clients comes social media with 41% reporting acquisitions that way, after social media comes email and overall content marketing at 36%.
More and more customers are joining additional social media platforms, and daily usage is also increasing. This has encouraged the B2B buyer behavior to move towards a more traditional B2C behavior path. Companies need to make note of this. Mobile is driving a lot of the revenue for B2B sellers, and different applications and digital marketplaces are on the rise.
What Buyers Want
In addition to embracing the use of mobile in e-commerce, other current trends in B2B are the importance of user experience and the new acquisition of customers. Furthermore, the overall upgrading of e-commerce software. On BigCommerce’s study, it is estimated that almost three-quarters of B2B buyers research at least half of their purchases online, meaning that businesses can make use of online search tools to attract new customers.
Offering multiple payment options is essential for a B2B seller to draw new clients. Mobile wallets, like Apple Pay, are gaining popularity – companies should explore these options. Approximately 80% of B2B retailers accept payments on their website, while only 26% accept payments through digital wallets.
Overall, realizing the potential of mobile is vital. Conceding that 80% of B2B buyers said they use a mobile device at work and 70% have increased their mobile device usage in the last two to three years. Thus, B2B businesses need to upgrade their e-commerce software to meet these new customer needs and wants. This new profile of the customer wants both a personal and an online experience when doing business.
The Future of E-commerce
Not every platform has what it takes to succeed as a B2B, that is why one of the ways to go is using third-party applications that can help businesses beside their e-commerce platforms.
Also focusing on different payment options and site UX is one the things a B2B business needs to consider on their website. Millennials want different things than their predecessors did as a buyer. If businesses do not want to be forgotten they need to change accordingly. Focusing on their e-commerce website and the possibilities that mobile devices have to offer might be the key to surviving the changes in the industry.