7 Trends in B2B eCommerce for 2017
Business-to-business eCommerce is growing at a tremendous pace. Now that B2B online retailing occupies a staggering $1 trillion market, it’s more important than ever for B2B sellers to keep up with the quickly changing landscape. Incorporating these five rising trends into your B2B strategy for the coming year will increase your competitive advantage.
B2C companies have long cornered the market on user experience, but B2B sellers are quickly catching up with cleaner, more streamlined user experiences. Many B2B buyers are online shoppers who visit eCommerce sites with high expectations, and expect to have the same experience when buying in a job function. B2B companies need to meet those standards with excellent search functionality, customer reviews, expansive billing options, and social media integration. To compete in an increasingly digital marketplace, sites will need to be updated with easy to navigate web design and custom B2B features.
As the importance of user experience is at an all-time high because of competition, companies now know as many as 50 percent of their buyers use mobile devices to shop for their business needs. Whether that’s optimizing the site for smaller screens or creating an app, B2B companies need to provide a functional purchasing platform from a smartphone or tablet. An eCommerce platform capable of high performance across smartphones and tablets, and supports integrations for mobile optimization programs is crucial to doing business in the future.
Flexible Payment Options
Processing digital payments for business sales can be tricky. B2B platforms open up a wide variety of payment forms, including purchasing or commercial cards, PayPal, invoicing, e-checks, physical checks, or purchase orders. A successful B2B seller will have the functionality to accept all of these payment types. In many cases, not offering the flexibility to pay with the buyer’s preferred method may result in the loss of a sale. If not native to your eCommerce platform, integrations and modules should be implemented to accept invoicing, Purchase Orders, Automated Recurring Billing and other corporate billing options.
Fortunately, there’s a way to accomplish all of these rising trends. Open source eCommerce platforms will allow B2B companies to mix and match the features they’d like to offer on their site. Businesses will have the flexibility to personalize their site to the unique needs of their clientele. Many feel that open source technology has limited support, but there’s a broad community of users and developers who can offer insight at a moment’s notice. Open source software comes with hundreds of add-ons to improve a site’s functionality, allowing for a more fluid and adaptable online presence. For B2B eCommerce, adding features for billing, credit card authorization, special group pricing and bulk orders is essential to win business-to-business deals.
Replicating the in-store experience is a key driver in winning business-to-business repeat buyers. This isn’t as simple as a clean site design. The catalog should provide detailed product information, dimensions, photographs from every angle, instructional videos, technical documentation— the works. Executive buyers need to know that the seller knows exactly what they’re talking about and can provide the resources to back up their knowledge, buying online may be a new venture for the company. If a B2B site can make the customer feel as if they’re seeing the product in person, they’ll likely have a successful sale.
The B2B marketplace is rapidly changing. The market is more complex than the B2C world—with massive online catalogs, complicated payment methods, and extremely diverse customer needs, there’s a layer of intricacy that’s not found in traditional consumer sales. But if a company can get ahead of emerging trends and provide an optimal user experience, it’s a possibility to open up new revenue streams through B2B online retailing.