B2B ecommerce is a market that’s growing as rapidly as modern technology is evolving. In 2018 it broke the $1 trillion dollar threshold for the first time, and it’s only expected to grow in the foreseeable future. How digital marketers in the B2B space capitalize on this depends on how well they leverage the current trends and anticipate those on the horizon. Below we list a few of the most noteworthy.
1. Investment in technology
According to Forrester Research, some 60% of B2B marketing execs are investing heavily in marketing technologies. This is in direct response to buyers demanding a more helpful experience down the purchase path. What better way to offer buyers that assistance than providing them with visualization tools?
With technologies like augmented reality and 3D imaging becoming ever more accessible, more B2Bs are investing in these solutions (hence the stats above). Because it’s one thing to offer your audience a static image of a product but it’s quite another to assist them in visualizing that product and seeing how it functions in a real-world context.
The rise of open-development programs for mobile means that users can access this technology on their smartphones without needing specialized hardware. To further understand how crucial this tech is in enhancing the consumer experience, consider these final stats: 25% of B2B companies reported using virtual reality/augmented reality tools in 2017, and 20% more plan to invest in it by the end of 2019.
2. A B2C user experience
There are plenty of statistics showing that the purchase path for B2B is becoming more like B2C. Most consumers, whether shopping for themselves or their business, are now starting that journey with online searches. What this means for ecommerce, at least in the awareness phase of the sales funnel, is that brands need to have a simple, attractive landing page that focuses on solid UX/UI.
True, B2B websites and ecommerce platforms in the past didn’t exactly stand out. They were typically used as online product catalogs, with little flare and comfort for the user. That won’t cut it anymore, as B2B brands need to offer visitors:
- A streamlined experience
- Quick-order features
- The ability to more efficiently configure bulk orders
Some of the most effective websites and platforms out there right now do a number of things right, including:
- Emphasizing the quality of the product
- Placing CTAs in optimum places
- Eschewing loud design in favor of minimalism
- Properly defining value proposition
- Having great customer support features
For more inspiration, take a look at these solid examples of B2B website design.
3. AI continues to take over
With all this talk of improving the B2B customer experience, we now come to the most famous piece of technology that has been touted as the next big thing for the past few years: artificial intelligence. We’re already seeing real-world AI applications in the form of digital assistants and chatbots, but what does that mean in the B2B sector? For starters, artificial intelligence facilitates better search functionality, the efficient automating of processes, and overall optimization of e-commerce platforms for better conversions.
What we’re seeing in 2019 is AI’s impact on the customer experience and revenue growth. It’s for these reasons that Gartner is projecting AI-derived business value to reach $3.9 trillion in 2022.
4. Millennials accelerate digital adoption
Which is a phenomenon that can be attributed to the fact that millennials now represent about 73% of folks involved in B2B purchase decisions at their companies. This is a generation that grew up with technology and they’re bringing those habits to their careers. That means these digital natives are all but demanding that technology meet their expectations.
Case in point: 83% of these buyers report that technology keeps them more informed about product choices than ever before. They’ve come to rely on ecommerce platforms that quickly and effortlessly deliver this information. Moreover, they expect a consistent experience across all channels. To whit, 60% of buyers state they’d switch brands if the vendor doesn’t offer a user-friendly mobile experience.
The takeaway is simple: unlike older generations, today’s buyers are not threatened by new technology, rather they welcome—indeed rely on—new tech. They expect brands to create personalized shopping experiences through this technology, and according to research by Salesforce, B2B sales teams can significantly boost their yearly revenue by utilizing this tech to improve data intelligence and personalization to develop a single view of the customer.
The overarching theme of this list is technology. If as a B2B you can power your commerce platforms with AI, data solutions, and personalization, you’ll be in the perfect position to appeal to today’s uniquely tech-savvy audiences. And it’s by recognizing these rapid-fire changes and trends in the commerce landscape as they occur that you’ll be best positioned to achieve this.