The global business to business (B2B) ecommerce market had an estimated market value of some US $7.35 trillion in 2020 and by the end of 2026 it’s predicted it will be US $18.57 trillion. That’s a spectacular compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.7% between 2021 and 2026.
What’s contributing to the exponential growth of B2B ecommerce?
Since almost three quarters of B2B buyers are now digitally native millennials online customer experiences and around the clock self-service have become minimum requirements. Leading digital businesses are now automating their ordering processes and using technology to enable their marketing, sales, and customer services teams to deliver high quality end-to-end buying experiences.
Specialized B2B online marketplaces are a factor driving this rapid growth, focused on small and well-defined sectors including metal, industrial and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO), medical supplies, and IT equipment and consumables. The IT sector is expected to account for over a quarter of the market due to its increased adoption of B2B ecommerce while pantry products are expected to have the fastest growth rate at over 16%.
Internet banking will continue to be an important enabler, but alternatives such as mobile wallet apps are expected to grow quickly and be worth US$2,000billion by 2026 due to increasing demand for digital payments.
It is likely that the fastest growing region will continue to be Asia Pacific and specifically South East Asia, with a rapidly-rising number of growing B2B companies adopting ecommerce platforms. North America will also see strong growth with B2B ecommerce giants like Amazon and eBay already well established.
The pandemic forced many businesses online for the first time to meet the needs of their existing customers as well as allowing them to reach a wider audience. Popular in retail settings, same-day-delivery and more immersive online experiences are also expected to create more demand for B2B ecommerce. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technology will also improve customer experiences and support growth.
B2B buyer behavior is changing
Digitally native millennial and Gen Z buyers are bringing new expectations to the B2B market. B2B businesses must be prepared to meet their preferences for extensive online research and use digital channels for a large part of their buying journey, while remote working will change the role of traditional field sales teams.
Customer-facing representatives (CFRs) will need to develop new skills as trusted advisors during the purchasing process, equipped with reliable and accurate information from all parts of the business that will support them as they build long-term relationships with customers.
While price is still an important consideration, buyers are influenced by the ease of their buying journey, the quality of customer service, how well their sensitive data is protected, and ethical credentials concerning the environment, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Conditioned by their personal online shopping experiences, these new-style B2B buyers also expect to find what they’re looking for quickly. Personalized content and seamless digital experiences will become minimum requirements. In subscription models are also likely to increase as businesses search for more predictable and scalable revenue, building on their popularity during the pandemic.
Improving service through data
To deliver effective online B2B experiences data can no longer be held in silos. Effective integration of key business systems improves efficiency and performance and opens the way to data-driven decision making that will improve customer service. A well-planned approach will allow your business to become fully customer-centric and capable of anticipating and meeting your buyer’s needs at every touchpoint based on accurate near real time insights.
Artificial intelligence is now accessible and affordable, allowing you to collate and understand large amounts of data. AI-enabled sales tools can deliver intelligence-based recommendations to your sales teams as they engage with buyers. Sales calls can be scheduled based on buying behavior and reports can be created using aggregated information for your sector.
Automation can add value
Manual data entry can be slow and inaccurate, adding to overheads and affecting customer satisfaction. When your buyers enter most of the information about their detailed requirements online you can reduce errors. By sharing the information immediately across business systems, you can provide fast and accurate responses from a complex product builder (aka CPQ) through to detailed shipping instructions and tracking.
Automating repetitive activities will allow your sales representatives and managers to spend their time adding value to the buying experience with problem-solving and relationship building.
As digital engagement increases, it will be important to provide the right sales channels for your customers. Buyers will expect to move seamlessly across all your channels so a strategic approach will be needed. For more traditional sectors, you will also need to encourage your buyers to move online.
Businesses that moved online of necessity will now need to consolidate their position and make their digital transformation a strategic priority.
Some manufacturers are harnessing the benefits of a direct to consumer (D2C) ecommerce model to maintain control of their brand and to increase their understanding of fast-changing markets.
Book a free Cloudfy demonstration today to find out how your business can be part of the exponential growth of B2B ecommerce.