B2B business is moving online as fast as it possibly can. The global market for B2B ecommerce is estimated to be worth $1 trillion in 2015 and that’s just considered the beginning of what it can ultimately be. Now is the time to transition your B2B efforts towards the online medium. To make sure that happens in the best possible way, here are the B2B ecommerce trends that you’re going to want to start tracking right now.
1. B2B is Growing Faster Than B2C Online
When examining the data from online sales, the ecommerce industry is growing at an average rate of 17%. The B2B community, however, is growing at a 19% rate. This means the ecommerce world for B2B is big and it’s going to get even bigger. That’s because at this moment, the B2B ecommerce presence online is extremely fractured and in various different periods of development.
As companies finalize their presence, it will become a more consistent experience and everyone will benefit from it. Until then, look for some growing pains in the months to come as B2B catches up to the growth that has been experienced so far.
2. Big Businesses Are Getting Involved with the B2B Process
Many times the B2B world is about local businesses working together to make local dollars stretch further. Thanks to the introduction of business entities like Amazon Supply, however, the B2B ecommerce world is hitting national and global markers today. Money is being saved thanks to the higher levels of purchasing power and that ultimately means more local profitability for individual businesses without the need to extensively network.
3. It’s Going To Get Automated Quickly
Mobile payment solutions have grown rapidly over the past 5 years, mostly thanks to concepts from PayPal and Square. Now imagine having an automated ecommerce solution that all businesses can adopt for their B2B needs. It will allow more businesses to form relationships with each other in a passive way instead of an active way. The trend for ecommerce is going to be focusing on marketing content more than marketing sales calls so that business can happen 24/7 instead of during regular business hours.
4. Search Functionality is Going to Become a Make It or Break It Proposition
Because the trends are leaning toward a passive relationship instead of an active one, it will fall on all B2B sellers to provide better search functionality. B2B customers are going to demand fast access to the information, goods, or services that they need. With good search options that provide accurate, thorough results, a B2B ecommerce platform will be able to stand out from the rest of the pack to provide the fast solutions that modern business opportunities require.
5. More Safeguards and Higher Levels of Accountability Are Going to be Required
Despite the evolution of the B2B ecommerce system, there is still the trend to issue paper checks for services rendered. Companies, however, are slowly transitioning over to payment card systems. People with purchasing power are issued a business card that allows them to make certain purchases.
This means B2B responsibilities are going to require financial oversight to prevent fraud and purchasers are going to be required to maintain transparent levels of accountability. Without these, the ecommerce opportunities are never going to be maximized.
6. There Will Continue to be a Shortage of Level 3 Processing Expertise
Most people are familiar with the B2C purchasing concept, which has a customer provide a card number, zip code, and signature in order for a purchase to be authorized. The B2B community uses a Level 3 processing for card purchases that goes beyond this simplistic data. Purchases also have product codes, item descriptions, tax rates, and quantity all involved on the transaction because the actual products, not the transaction itself, generate the interchange rates and fee levels.
7. Everything is Going to Move Online
Although the B2B world is different from the B2C world, the customer expectations that have led to the development of B2C best practices are directly influencing B2B ecommerce. More than three-quarters of businesses are using search engines to find new B2B networking opportunities. Half of the buying process has already been completed before engaging with a sales rep when new B2B relationships are formed because of a company’s B2B ecommerce presence; or lack of one. Without realizing these trends, it will be hard to develop one’s own B2B ecommerce platform.
8. Social Influence is More Important Than Ever Before
Social networking is making it possible for B2B purchasers, even those who purchase by committee instead of individually, to know everything they need to know about another business before they engage a conversation. The endless meetings and wine-and-dine opportunities just don’t need to happen any more. Where is the money that is saved from the elimination of these needs going to go? Into the online presence, user experience, and reputation that every B2B organization develops.
9. It’s Going to be More Multilingual Than Ever Before
As of today, the average B2B entity is operating in 7 different languages. As the world grows smaller with a larger ecommerce presence online, the need for more language support is also going to develop. Relying on Google Translate isn’t going to make the grade. Real people who are fluent in each language are going to need to be on staff so that the best results can be consistently achieved.
10. There’s Almost No Limit to the Growth
That $1 trillion in estimated revenue might seem like a lot, but it’s less than 10% of the actual B2B market. This means it is so large that the shifts to ecommerce solutions are going to be slow and focus more on self-service. It also means that ignoring ecommerce is eventually going to make it difficult for a corporation to survive.
The average B2B ecommerce sale is $492. The average B2C ecommerce sale: $147. This one fact will continue to drive the need to pay attention to the trends of this industry over the years to come.