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Posted by Deborah Beckwin - 23 August, 2019

10 Insights That Forecast the Future of B2B E-Commerce

What's your B2B eCommerce platform doing for you?

If your answer is limited to transactional activities, you're missing out on what's actually driving the future of B2B eCommerce.

Read on for the ten trends you can't afford to ignore:

1. Customer Experience

An outstanding customer experience is no longer the exclusive domain of B2C businesses. 

90% of B2B executives indicated their intention to maintain or increase spending on customer experience while 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.

Great UX needed for b2b e-commerceImage source

In fact, the line between B2B and B2C is blurring. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 70% of eCommerce will move from B2C and B2B models to ones that focus on the individual customer experience.

Your customers expect to be able to make a purchase, manage their accounts, set up their recurring orders, and get customer support from your company, just like they would from B2C sellers when they buy as consumers.

2. Omnichannel Strategy

The rise of B2B omnichannel marketing reflects the shift in focus to delivering outstanding customer experience.

B2B buyers want to interact with vendors both online and offline seamlessly, across all channels and on all devices.

Omnichannel marketing isn't simply about having a presence at multiple customer touch points. 

The key is to integrate all the information of a buyer and his interactions with your company into a single 360-degree customer profile to create a customer-centric experience that efficiently moves him along the buyer's journey.

B2B buying journeyImage source

3. Data-Driven Marketing

Data is the raw material that makes improving customer experience through omnichannel marketing possible.

Customer data is the foundation of a single customer view that drives omnichannel strategies. Meanwhile, data collected from all customer interactions will inform future strategies.

e-commerce behaviorImage source

Especially for B2B marketers, it's important to incorporate the purchasing history of the client account into the buyer's profile so you can provide the most accurate account-specific information.

Data-driven marketing may finally put this quote from John Wanamaker to rest: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half."

4. Automated Personalization

The ability to leverage customer data makes delivering a customer-centric experience with highly relevant personalized campaigns possible. 

Omnichannel personalization can be used to nurture leads, increase conversion, and improve customer loyalty while automation allows you to respond to customers' interactions with your company in real time so you can provide the most relevant content and offer.

It's been found that the ability to segment email lists and individualize email campaigns is the most effective personalization tactics for 51% of marketing influencers.  

5. Price Optimization and Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) Flexibility

The availability of a large amount of customer data allows B2B companies to fine tune their account-based pricing strategy and optimize profit.

New technologies allow merchants to take localization requirements at the currency and language level, complex product lines, and multi-site requirements into account while maintaining globally-based business models. 

With the help of a robust sales and eCommerce platform, you can enable dynamic pricing and approvals, even when selling through multi-tiered channels, to dramatically increase the deal velocity without losing control. 

In addition, more B2B vendors are using CPQ to further personalize buyers' experience with customized solutions to meet their needs. It allows companies to offer unique values so they can avoid competing on price.

6. Integrated Order Management

In order to provide a seamless customer experience across all channels, you need to integrate your eCommerce system with your legacy offline order management systems.

Many B2B companies have moved to "born-in-the-cloud" B2B eCommerce platforms with order management for all channels built-in so customer information can be synchronized in real time.

The integration of all purchasing systems allows companies to support Just-in-Time (JIT) availability with automated replenishment, customized, and complex procurement workflows to lower cost and improve efficiency.

7. Robust eCommerce Platform

As more B2B buyers are making purchases online, it's imperative that you have a robust eCommerce platform

B2B buyer expectationsImage source

Your eCommerce platform is the hub for your customer experience and needs to handle more than transactions. 

When implemented correctly, your eCommerce platform will help you bring greater speed and simplicity to a myriad of complex B2B ordering processes, including complex configuration, pricing workflow, and account-based customization.

8. Multi-Tier Distribution Channels

Many B2B companies are implementing partner commerce apps across multi-tier distribution networks that involve partners, resellers, dealers, distributors, service providers, and OEMs to provide a unique buying experience. 

These cloud-based B2B eCommerce platforms are capable of managing incentives, promotions, rebates, and more across all channels to support partners in their sales and promotion.

9. Integrated Supply and Demand Planning

The data gathered from your eCommerce platform, which reflects activities on all your multi-tier distribution channels, is a treasure trove of information on market trends and consumer demands.

You can reduce costs and improve operational efficiency by harnessing the power of this information.

Many B2B businesses have realized that the traditional siloed approach to supply chain management is no longer nimble enough to respond to the increasingly volatile market landscape.

By integrating real-time data from demand side, you'll be able to improve forecast accuracy for the entire supply chain.  

10. Unified Cloud Platform

All the B2B eCommerce trends are pointing to the need for a technology stack that could dramatically increase the Total Cost of Ownership for many vendors and manufacturers.

With the constant need to keep up with new technologies in every aspect of managing an omnichannel customer experience -- such as catalog management, storefronts, partner portals, CPQ, and payment gateways -- the costs and efforts required could be prohibitively high.

As a result, B2B companies are migrating to "born-in-the-cloud" eCommerce platforms to replace all their legacy systems.

The new breed of eCommerce platforms provide merchants with a unified global view of all channel selling activities and allow them to deliver a seamless customer-centric experience to their buyers.

The result is lower TCO and a streamlined eCommerce technology stack that can respond to market demand in a nimble manner.

B2B eCommerce Marketing

Topics: B2B eCommerce, Sales & Marketing

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