Building open ecosystems to support complex digital B2B commerce

2020 will be a decisive year for B2B e-commerce

Last year, all forms of B2B digital commerce grew faster than total manufacturing and distributor sales. That is one of the key findings from the U.S. B2B e-commerce Market Report by Digital Commerce 360 Research. A long-term e-commerce strategy will help overcome the corona crisis and even come out of it as a B2B e-commerce winner.

In 2020 the coronavirus permanently altered the course of B2B e-commerce. In the first quarter of this year, many B2B companies saw a growth in their e-commerce sales. But as the pandemic settled in, most B2B sellers experienced a fall in their e-commerce sales.

Nearly 45% of B2B sellers expect their e-commerce sales in the upcoming fourth quarter of 2020 to be flat or decline. Still, 2020 will be a growth year for B2B e-commerce. Digital Commerce 360 estimates that B2B e-commerce sites, log-in portals and market places will grow by 10% in 2020.

Inevitably, there will be B2B e-commerce winners and losers: some will move beyond the COVID-19 crisis management into longer-range e-commerce planning and look for new growth opportunities online.

User-friendliness contributes to e-commerce success

User-friendliness is fundamental for e-commerce success, not only in B2C but also for B2B environments”, says Evgeny Grigul, Vice President of Virto Commerce. “Since users were forced to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, both manufacturers and distributors have realized the need to provide a smoother, B2C-like experience in a B2B environment, complete with the simplification of business processes and self-service. At the same time, they try to take advantage of new opportunities by experimenting with the direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels.”

B2B is embracing Artificial Intelligence

Another remarkable evolution is the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence by B2B companies, in their direct communication with customers – product recommendations, chatbots and personalized services – but also for management and simplification of complex processes and dynamic pricing for businesses.

Creating opportunities with an open e-commerce system

“An open e-commerce ecosystem allows B2B companies to adapt to the rapidly changing business environment and gain advantages of new technologies such as AI”, says Evgeny Grigul. “To create such an ecosystem, a business’s main priority is to quickly launch digital channels with the least possible integration effort and impact on the existing ecosystem. As digital commerce matures, the B2B company can start testing new channels, enter new markets, adopt various e-commerce instruments such as AI and launch new business models, such as marketplaces. This is a pivotal moment since the requirements for the ecosystem move toward more flexibility, adaptability and diminish the role of enterprise resource planning.”

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About the author of this article

Ilse Lauwens
Director Marketing

As Director Marketing, Ilse Lauwens is driving and executing the marketing campaigns for Virto Commerce looking for synergies and opportunities, while understanding customer & partner needs in the different markets. Ilse has held marketing management roles on a Belgian and European level at different industry leaders in IT, such as WordPerfect, SAS Institute, Cognos, Microsoft and Sitecore.

 

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