Birds eye view of highway

As we enter a new decade we can be certain that everything related to business to business (B2B) ecommerce is developing more quickly than ever before.

It can be difficult to keep up with all the latest innovations and to plan for your future B2B ecommerce success.

However, the key themes remain the same; improving customer experiences and convenience.

Here we take a look at five important aspects of B2B ecommerce that will improve your competitiveness in 2020.

1. Personalization

Research into the B2B buying process shows that personalization is at the top of the priority list for many B2B customers. Predictive search and artificial intelligence (AI) that enhance buying decisions are important for one in five B2B customers, influencing their choice of preferred supplier. 

Personalization and predictive analytics will continue to improve this year. Combining browsing behavior, order history, demographics and other available data, B2B ecommerce sites will be able to provide more fully customized online buying experiences.

Users will be able to view customized product catalogs and even entirely personalized websites, navigation and checkout processes – all tailored to their individual needs.

Not only will this provide customers with added value and convenience, it will also improve conversion rates and average order values.

To provide this level of personalized experience, your ecommerce site will need to integrate with your enterprise, product management, stock control and logistics systems. With seamless integration and improved data, the personalized experience will become even more accurate and effective.

2. B2B voice commerce

Voice commerce is becoming increasingly popular for business to consumer (B2C) shopping and is now influencing expectations for B2B ecommerce. In 2019, more than one in 10 B2B buyers said they wanted voice ordering as part of their online B2B purchasing process.

Although B2B buying is more complex than B2C shopping, there’s also a significant element of repeat ordering. This could be an ideal starting point, allowing your buyers to place voice orders while they complete other tasks. 

This year you can support B2B voice commerce developments through integration with your key business systems.

3. B2B online marketplaces

As B2B ecommerce grows, e-marketplaces like Amazon Business and Aliexpress, along with sector specific marketplaces, are attracting B2B buyers. 

You can use these marketplaces to reach new customers who might not have heard of your products or services. If you rank well for keyword searches, pricing and customer reviews, the trust buyers have in these marketplaces will give them confidence to make their first purchase from you.

However, marketplaces aren’t a viable alternative to your own ecommerce site in the longer term.

To build brand loyalty, you need to have a direct dialogue with your customers. That makes the quality of user experience on a site you control even more important.

Having your own ecommerce platform allows you to use specific keyword-based landing pages and index pages, for example. These help you target your customers and show them precisely what they are looking for. 

Predictive search can provide modified search results, based on product titles, stock keeping units (SKUs), descriptions, or article numbers. By reviewing review search queries and frequently used search terms you can refine search results on your site over time.

When buyers regularly purchase directly to your site, you can launch and promote new products online. In contrast, when you add a new product to a marketplace you can lose out because it won’t have reviews to encourage buyers, giving your competitors an advantage. 

You will also have full control of how your products are packaged and delivered. For example, you can ship your own products in branded boxes and include personalized promotions or discounts.

It’s also worth remembering that, once sales increase, marketplace transaction fees will reduce your profit margins, so there’s an added incentive to bring buyers to your own site and impress them when they arrive.

4. Eco ecommerce

All businesses benefit from having a good story to tell about how they’re reducing their environmental impact. Displaying and offering more sustainable options for products, services, delivery and aftercare will give B2B companies a competitive edge this year.

For example, some companies already explain how narrow delivery time slots can reduce the efficiency of delivery schedules and increase their CO2 impact. This gives customers the option to make a difference by accepting more flexible delivery times.

You can also use your ecommerce solution to reduce environmental impact and increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your ordering and fulfilment processes. Reporting on how your business is working to reduce emissions and to tackle other environmental issues will improve your reputation.

5. Progressive web apps (PWAs)

Buyers frequently use mobile devices to make their purchases, leading some B2B companies to launch mobile apps to give customers access to their account on the go. This can provide a boost to business and is especially useful for easy repeat ordering. However, development costs, versions designed specifically for Android and IOS devices, and app store or marketplace fees can make them expensive options.

An alternative to consider this year is a progressive web application (PWA) delivered through web browsers. PWAs are designed to work across all mobile devices and operating systems. This reduces development time for your business and your customers don’t need to download and install an app. PWAs are fast and can even operate when there is poor or no internet access. Performance is improved by ensuring that users only have to load the information they need rather than whole web pages. 

Google and Apple have recognised the potential of this approach and are pushing ahead with PWA development. 

To find out more about future B2B ecommerce trends speak with one of Cloudfy’s experts today.