B2B eCommerce Trends

In 2020, the global size of ecommerce was estimated at more than six and a half-trillion dollars. According to ASTUTE ANALYTICA, Global B2B eCommerce market is expected to reach $18,771.4 billion by 2027. What this means for B2B sellers is that it is now more important than ever to keep up with the quickly changing surroundings. Below, we take a close look at the rising B2B ecommerce trends for the coming year that you can incorporate into your B2B strategy to help increase your competitive advantage.

B2B eCommerce Statistics: B2B eCommerce Trends Overview

B2B eCommerce Statistics 2021
covid-19 impact, state of b2b ecommerce in 2020
B2B ecommerce demographics

Trends in B2B eCommerce in 2022 and Beyond

Below, we’ll look at different types of trends in B2B ecommerce. This way, we’ll look at globally strategic changes, market-driven and marketing trends, current developments in customer experience and technology.

Trend #1 Technology Investments Are Set To Grow

The growing need for finding cheaper and more flexible alternatives has driven businesses to remote work and the cloud. B2B ecommerce platform vendors, such as Virto Commerce, have become robust and very adaptable to changes. By investing in the integration of such platforms, your business can grow rapidly and give you the smoothest online experience of expanding your outreach.

Trend #2 B2B eCommerce & Mobile Devices

B2B mobile stats

Although mobile commerce is no longer a novelty in the B2B world, we still consider mobile expansion a trend, since many B2B companies have yet to embrace mobile reality and come to grips with mobile commerce.

According to Statista, as of 2020, there were over 3.6 billion smartphone users worldwide and the number is expected to grow even further, reaching more than 4 billion by 2023.

In the US alone, there are more than 300 million smartphone users, 96% of whom are aged 18-30.

Mobile apps account for the vast majority of mobile traffic (as opposed to mobile browsers) and take up as much as 270 minutes from the user’s life on average daily.

As young people grow more into adulthood, they would increasingly expect to use their mobile phones at work as much as they do in their daily lives. Even now, research shows that 9 out of 10 business users will buy from a website again if it offers a first-grade mobile experience.

Moreover, according to Amazon Business, 61% of online business buyers already use mobile devices to research products before they buy them.

To provide the best experience for your existing and prospective customers, you need to invest heavily in mobile research and marketing. This trend will continue to grow and evolve well into 2021-2022 as more and more purchasing decisions will be made through a mobile device.

Trend # 3 B2B Online Marketplaces (Particularly Niche B2B Marketplaces)

Online Marketplace Stats

Now is the best time to expand your business beyond your town, state, or even country. B2B online marketplaces continue to grow in size and numbers: according to Gartner, more than 70% of enterprise marketplaces launched will serve B2B transactions by 2023. Niche marketplaces, in particular, have become a vital place for the online presence of B2B sellers. As marketplaces have become much more attractive to manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors, now is the time to jump on the wagon.

Trend #4 Omnichannel

Research has shown that companies with strong omnichannel marketing strategies retain on average 89% of their existing customers compared to 33% of companies that lack such strategies. B2B sellers need to embrace the fact that all customers are now omnichannel and work toward accommodating them.

In an environment where more B2B customers prefer to do their own research online, customer expectations should influence an organization’s B2B selling priorities. To meet those increasingly complex and sophisticated expectations, it’s important to have a flexible, scalable commerce infrastructure with an integrated online selling platform at its core. From a technological point of view, that means an organization requires not only a robust B2B ecommerce platform but also a strong CRM system that would help create a comprehensive B2B buyer persona. A CPQ system is also essential for expediting full-service sales and letting the ecommerce platform effectively support complex products and variations in product lines.

The data indicates that B2B buyers don’t have specific preferences toward either self- or full-service. Instead, they switch between the two depending on a purchasing scenario. The combination of human-assisted options and self-service, therefore, makes for a sensible strategy. Flexible ecommerce infrastructures typically offer a full spectrum of options, from self-serve to sales team-delivered full service along with hybrid selling models.

It’s worth putting extra effort into migrating B2B buyers online in an attempt to convert them into higher value customers.

eCommerce cannot be independent of traditional direct and indirect selling channels. All the back-end data around products, pricing, contracts, rebates, and promotions have to be consolidated, while the front-end touchpoints accommodate the needs of each channel. The best approach would be to start from the back-end and work your way to the front to keep consistency in the process while providing unique personalized experiences for every user persona.

Trend # 5 More Cloud Adoption

The cloud revolution has been gradually and consistently taking over businesses and for good reasons: the cloud offers better security, stability, and flexibility, while simultaneously reducing costs and allowing businesses to save and scale up. Take a look at the following stats:

B2B cloud adoption stats

Numbers

Description

94% B2B companies already use a cloud service
30% IT budgets are allocated to cloud computing
66% Enterprises already have a cloud center of excellence
40% Workloads are currently running in public clouds
64% Businesses with a flexible work policy accelerated cloud migrations during the pandemic
54% IT buyers agree that cloud providers can offer better security compared to a company’s own data center

The migration to the cloud, which had started long before and accelerated because of the COVID 19 pandemic, will continue as companies adopt hybrid working models and leverage benefits offered by public and private clouds. According to Gartner, worldwide end user spending on public cloud services is expected to grow by 21%, amounting to more than 330 billion dollars. Moreover, as cloud infrastructure evolves, the cloud is expected to be more intertwined with other technologies, such as IoT, AI, 5G, and more.

Trend # 6 Digital Supply Chain Management

Digital supply chain management might sound like a fancy term but, in fact, it denotes the same old school supply management with an added layer of digital technologies. However, these technologies do add a degree of sophistication to the phenomenon, as they include such things as predictive analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, automated order management and replenishment solutions.

With that said, ecommerce supply chains are entirely different from regular brick and mortar: some components are more important, while others might not matter or exist at all. For example, fulfillment centers are designed differently for ecommerce delivery and distribution centers can be eliminated entirely. The fulfillment process is particularly important since a delivery might be the only physical contact a buyer has with your brand, which makes the fulfillment process directly responsible for customer satisfaction. Since customers expect fast and reliable deliveries, you’d want to invest in building a good fulfillment network with reliable third party fulfillment centers and building a solid partner network with shipping companies. For creating a reliable infrastructure, you’ll need a robust ecommerce platform that’s capable of integrating with third party providers and can easily scale.

Customer Experience B2B eCommerce Trends

Trend # 1 UX as a Powerful Driver of Good Quality Customer Experience

User experience (UX) should be the primary focus for all businesses selling online, retailers in particular. Good UX not only makes your site easy to manage and navigate but also helps to convert random onlookers passing by your web store into loyal dedicated customers. The power of UX cannot be overestimated — it plays a significant role in differentiation and profitability. Buyers will always appreciate high-resolution product images, accurate product descriptions, rich and versatile content (including tech specs, FAQs, blog posts, and so on). Use your B2B ecommerce platform not only to sell products but to educate and inform buyers about the industry.

Trend # 2 Omnichannel Customer Care

Customer service via email is no longer an acceptable option. Because B2B buyers demand even more attention than B2C customers, your website needs to have all possible customer care options, from live chats with customer service and sales reps to chatbots if outside working hours. Optimize your platform for advanced search by adding online search tools and other helpful perks to help customers navigate your site and learn more about your products or call you if they require assistance. Customer self service portals are no longer among emerging trends but rather an outright necessity. Consider adding digital self service features gradually to make customers adopt new functionality first before moving on to the next, more sophisticated features.

Trend # 3 Personalization & Contextualization

For a business that offers multiple product lines, uses a large catalog, and operates in several different sectors, dynamic personalization can help to substantially increase online revenues. Technology innovators have significantly improved marketing personalization tools, and we expect personalization and recommendation machine learning (ML) engines to become even better in the coming years.

Dynamic personalization is adjusting the content of your website according to each visitor’s requirements and needs. For example, you want to show a different view of your website to a first-time visitor than to an existing lead or a returning customer. With online store personalization, you can present the right content to the right person — to deliver relevant content and time your calls to action without overwhelming your customers with a multitude of different messages.

The more sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) mechanisms now offer personalization techniques as a package: push notifications on mobile phones, email messaging, and content recommendations on social media and websites — all can become a customized and personalized customer experience from customer data gathered across different digital channels. What this means is that instead of personalizing select interactions with the customer, you are now able to personalize an actual customer journey and walk them through it, offering personalized content at every touchpoint.

We’ve written an interesting article on content contextualization, which you may want to check out.

B2B eCommerce to Market-Driven & Digital Marketing B2B eCommerce Trends

B2B ecommerce marketing stats

Trend # 1 Video Marketing for Brand Awareness & Customer Education

The strategy for video content marketing strategy is gaining more and more prominence in the increasingly crowded B2B marketplace. Since video marketing has become a go-to strategy to attract new and retain existing customers, you should consider making it a priority in your digital marketing efforts. Think of incorporating short marketing videos for your LinkedIn feed and organizing webinars and live talks with your sales representatives and industry experts on your website or preferred social media channel.

Trend # 2 Dynamic Pricing

While not entirely a new concept, dynamic pricing has only recently taken the ecommerce industry by storm. Thanks to the growing availability and sophistication of AI/ML engines, companies can now react to supply and demand fluctuations in real time. Dynamic pricing is a powerful pricing strategy with a lot of hidden potential: it gives you greater control over your prices, allows flexibility without compromising brand value, and saves you money in the long term. With the robust ecommerce platform and the right software tools that keep the guesswork out of the equation, you can achieve fantastic results that will have a positive effect on other aspects of your business.

Trend # 3 Services That Provide Added Value

Particularly relevant for those operating their own B2B ecommerce marketplaces, value added services provide unique opportunities to retain and lock in existing customers, attract new ones, increase revenue, and stay on top of the current market trends. In its most simplistic sense, value added services are those that you add on top of your existing product or service. For example, if you’re operating a subscription-based marketplace, you can start selling advertising or marketing services in addition to your main subscription or membership offers.

Emerging Trend: AI for Content Marketing

AIs may not be ready to craft high-quality content yet. With tools like generation analytics and predictive analytics, AI can participate more noticeably in the creation process and help with research, outcome tracking, microtargeting, and digital marketing. As machines develop better content editing skills, they could also help streamline content creation and reduce costs in the future.

Technology B2B eCommerce Trends

Trend # 1 Switching To Open Source

Open source is a fantastic way to continuously improve ecommerce functionality while making the process a collaborative (as opposed to proprietary) effort of different developers. We can see this clearly with Virto Commerce, which has become one of the prominent open source platforms, having gathered a significant number of developers from different countries in its community.

Trend # 2 Fast Implementation & Integration

Implementation speeds have increased dramatically in recent years. These days you can complete the entire implementation process within a few weeks. Composable ecommerce platforms allow businesses to implement individual, specific functionalities keeping the rest of the business intact until all processes and features are implemented.

Trend # 3 Flexible Payment Options

Offering and processing a variety of digital payments is absolutely critical for ecommerce companies. Not offering a buyer the flexibility to pay with their preferred method is likely to result in a sale loss. Thankfully, nowadays, sophisticated B2B platforms offer different payment options, such as PayPal, invoicing, e-checks, purchasing or commercial cards, physical checks, purchase orders, etc. Besides, some offer trade finance options, which allow companies to sell on credit and finance their vendors and buyers.

Trend # 4 Headless Commerce: API-Based Digital Commerce

The growth of APIs has opened up new opportunities for ecommerce, allowing companies to go headless and experiment with different online sales channels. Moreover, APIs enable businesses to build sophisticated ecommerce infrastructures where all vital internal and external applications are connected within one unifying and collaborative solution. By connecting and integrating multiple applications, such things as real time inventory and fulfillment services have finally become possible.

Trend # 5 The Rise of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

A PWA or a Progressive Web Application is software built using common web technologies, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, delivered through the web, and intended to work on any platform (desktop or mobile) that uses a standard compliant browser. PWAs bring native-app-like experiences to cross-platform web apps and offer distinct advantages over traditional mobile apps and native ecommerce sites by combining the best features of both. Unlike mobile apps, PWAs are discoverable via search and can be promoted to users on any device. By allowing B2B buyers to download an application from your site, you’re not only bypassing mobile application store approvals but also allowing yourself the liberty to release as often and as many updates as you wish. B2B buyers, in turn, benefit from fast-loading mobile pages, quick and smooth web experience, cross-device compatibility, and offline work mode, among other helpful perks.

Trend # 6 Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR & VR) Application

In an attempt to keep up with the ever changing customer expectations, businesses have turned to augmented and virtual reality applications, one of the hottest B2B ecommerce trends that is increasingly becoming a part of the long term ecommerce strategy for many B2B companies. By 2022, it’s expected that 25% of enterprises will launch their AR application and another 70% will experiment with it. Augmented and virtual reality applications create immersive customer experiences that enhance B2B buyers’ decision-making and shopping journeys. The better the experience, the more likely B2B customers are going to convert and stick with the company. AR and VR can be employed to help customers envision how the product works or how it’s going to fit in their business. By enhancing product presentations and giving people an opportunity to establish personal contact with the product, you create more sales opportunities for your entire business.

Conclusion

Since B2B ecommerce is constantly evolving, no matter how closely we monitor the current B2B ecommerce trends and the undercurrents that shape the B2B universe, there are bound to be surprises along the way. The pandemic, which has brought massive dislocations in the business and social fabric, has certainly contributed to the acceleration of digital transformation in B2B companies on an unprecedented scale: what we’ve seen accomplished within a few weeks and months, previously could have taken up years. There’s an immense array of opportunities that are hiding in store in 2022: with the proliferation of B2B marketplaces, democratic wide-spread availability of AI and ML technology, and sweeping cloud adoption, the future for B2B looks as bright as ever!

FAQs

What trends will shape ecommerce in 2022?

We believe that the strongest B2B ecommerce trends are all related to utilizing ecommerce technology to enhance customer experience, strengthen customer relationships, build a solid interconnected ecommerce infrastructure, improve sales processes, promote operational efficiency, and explore new business opportunities. As technology evolves, so will customer expectations. 

Should my B2B ecommerce store try all new trends?

It depends. We believe that you need to understand what works for your business and what your customers expect from doing business with you. With the right ecommerce platform, you can experiment and try new, emerging trends without breaking business rules or compromising your current business processes. 

How big is the B2B ecommerce market?

Big enough. In 2020, the size of the B2B ecommerce market was estimated at $6.64 trillion. By 2027, it is expected to reach $13.63 trillion.

What is the B2B ecommerce market growth?

B2B ecommerce market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.5% during 2021-2027.

What is the growth region for B2B ecommerce?

Asia Pacific has been growing at an accelerated pace both in B2B and B2C commerce, having captured more than 60% of the overall B2B revenue in 2020. 

What are the factors driving the B2B ecommerce market?

We believe the following are the factors that currently drive the B2B eCommerce market:

 

  • The evolution of existing technologies and the emergence of new ones
  • Changing demographic with millennials taking charge of most business operations
  • Restraining of physical connection caused by the COVID 19 pandemic
  • Rapid economic growth, relative political stability, and increasing middle-class population in emerging markets

Which deployment type segment led the B2B ecommerce market?

Intermediaries, that is — associations that control dealings between consumers and manufacturers, led the ecommerce market and held more than 50% revenue share in 2020.

Which application segment dominated the B2B ecommerce market?

According to Grand View Research, the home and kitchen segment held the highest revenue share (15%) in 2020. 

How is B2B ecommerce evolving?

B2B eCommerce is currently moving towards self service customer portals that offer an immersive and omnichannel customer experience.

Are B2B merchants expanding internationally?

When B2B companies have a sophisticated full-fledged ecommerce platform that works very well in their current market, they might prefer to explore other options and unlock new revenue streams by entering new markets and geographies. We’ve written an article about what it takes to enter a new region, state, or country.

Is customer service a B2B ecommerce priority?

Investing in customer care and delivering great customer experiences can pay off in both the short and long term. From a growing online customer base to repeat businesses -- the advantages are numerous. As B2B customer expectations rise, so does the importance of delivering great customer service.

Are B2B ecommerce businesses now using voice search?

While everything voice-related is increasing dramatically, we still see B2B companies lagging in voice-assisted commands and searches behind B2C. However, as B2B catches up with B2C, we’ll see more voice recognition technologies in business to business operations.

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Marina Vorontsova
Marina Vorontsova
linkedin icon Technical author and eCommerce advocate