"Business buyers are increasingly able to contact their suppliers online"
Ties Luijendijk, Business Consultant
3 trends in B2B e-commerce for 2020
based on the questions that arise
3 trends in B2B e-commerce for 2020
Business buyers are increasingly able to contact their suppliers online. B2B companies are also increasingly using us to develop and optimize their e-commerce solutions. Based on the questions that our agencies pass, we foresee the following B2B e-commerce trends for 2020.
B2B e-commerce trend #1. Under pressure from advanced consumer platforms and increasing digital skills, the innovation of B2b e-commerce is accelerating.
There is an increasing demand for B2B e-commerce solutions, mainly focused on efficiency and optimization of processes such as order processing, quotation requests or inspection of invoices. The digitization of this type of functionality is already a matter of course for consumer platforms. Consumers are used to easily ordering or purchasing all kinds of things digitally for their daily lives and increasingly expect the webshops they visit when they are working. Also, the digital skills of the labour force are increasing with every new batch, with all the accompanying expectations.
Research in 2019 by market research agency Ruigrok NetPanel showed that digitization is becoming increasingly normal for all generations. It is unimaginable for many people if you cannot order online, that a webshop is "closed" or if it takes weeks before they receive a quotation. With this knowledge in mind, B2B organizations with e-commerce ambitions should keep the critical consumer in mind when designing and optimizing their platform.
B2B e-commerce trend #2. Marketplaces become the alternative to webshops
The small, "mainstream" webshop is expected to lose it in 2020 from stores such as Bol.com and Conrad. The popularity of stores such as AliExpress and the arrival of Amazon to the Netherlands also undermine the relevance of our webshops and stock. We increasingly see that large parties of this type facilitate marketplaces, combining a range of products from their stock with those of third parties. Because well-known webshops benefit from their name recognition and extensive resources, it is becoming less and less lucrative for third parties to maintain their webshop. Drop shipments are also increasingly being used, with website visitors ordering from the front of a single online catalogue with products from various underlying parties. Because the underlying parties can deliver directly, the logistics process remains as efficient and simple as possible.
In many cases, we see that it is much more attractive from an organizational and financial viewpoint to set up a marketplace instead of a webshop. We expect that suppliers this year will more often join forces with large parties, or with each other. It pays for many companies to anticipate this trend and (again) weigh up a marketplace or webshop.
B2B e-commerce trend #3. Business customers expect support for new (er) sales channels and optimal personalization
Ecommerce platforms are now expected to be accessible in multiple ways. For example, via a desktop browser and mobile version of the webshop. Increasingly, new (re) sales channels are also passing by, such as Instagram and WhatsApp. Organizations that want to go along with these trends are faced with new issues for the underlying infrastructure and processes. Flexibility is then essential. To realize this, we see, among other things, the increasing demand for headless CMS systems, in which the front-end and back-end operate separately. This means that the front of the website, which visitors see, and the background processes can be changed independently. Such an arrangement makes it easier and often faster to adjust the infrastructure or processes. It is therefore increasingly important when realizing business e-commerce platforms to first consider which sales channels are now important for customers and at the same time take into account the emergence of new channels.
In 2020, personalization will also become extra important. We see that business users expect relevant content and a relevant offer, as is often the case with consumer platforms. The search function and click behaviour play an important role in determining the profile and the needs of visitors. In the B2B landscaping, this will mainly stimulate the demand for the support of "searchandising", whereby the displayed "merchandise" is aligned with the "search".
Success this year is closely related to the increasing expectations of customers and the need for flexibility. Companies with B2B e-commerce ambitions would do well to see how they can organize their resources and processes in such a way that they can meet them now and in the future.