Spending on B2B eCommerce platforms has been increasing dramatically and will continue to do so. Forrester predicts that by 2019, the B2B e-Commerce market will be worth $1.1T compared to the B2C market at $480B.
Here are 10 B2B eCommerce trends for 2017 to help you increase sales, user satisfaction, and customer loyalty while opening new markets and reducing cost:
1. Mobile-Friendly Website
Gone are the days when B2B buyers are stiff 50-year-old executives making purchasing decisions while hovering over a giant stack of paper and binders.
Study shows that half of all B2B buyers are millennials who use mobile devices extensively to research B2B purchases.
Research also found that 62% of US B2B marketers have plans to invest in responsive design. A mobile-friendly website is a must-have for B2B businesses that want to thrive in 2017 and beyond.
2. Omnichannel Customer Service
B2B buyers also shop online as individual B2C customers. They expect the same quality of user experience and customer service as they'd get from sites such as Amazon, Alibaba and other internet retailers.
Gartner predicts that by 2018, 70% of eCommerce will move from B2C and B2B models to ones that focus on the individual customer experience. (source)
B2B businesses are using cloud-base eCommerce platforms to deliver omnichannel experiences that reach customers through multiple touchpoints to deliver 360-degree customer service.
3. Rigorous Onsite Search Function
If potential customers can't find what they're looking for on your website, they'd mostly likely get frustrated and turn to your competitors' sites. The lowly search box on your website could make or break a deal!
There are many ways to improve the search functionality of a website so it's important to implement improvements that enhance user experience, instead of causing confusion.
4. Seamless Online-Offline Integration
What do you do with your sales reps now that customers are purchasing online?
Since most B2B purchasing decisions involve multiple stakeholders, sales reps are key to making sure that every decision maker is on board with the purchasing decision.
All the inquiries, interactions and purchases made online need to be seamlessly transferred to the sales team, so they can continue the conversations, address objections and offer the valuable human connection that builds relationship and loyalty.
5. Global Market, Local Support
ECommerce growth trend is shifting toward Asia, and China's growth is so rapid that total eCommerce sales are expected to double between now and 2019, adding $1 trillion dollars worth of additional sales in just three years. (smart insights)
Image source: Smart Insights
To better service a global clientele, businesses are localizing their eCommerce strategies -- translating website content, pricing, and other features to speak to the local market and culture.
6. Customized User Experience
There are certainly more variables in most B2B purchases than say, buying a pair of shoes.
To accommodate such complexity, B2B eCommerce platforms can offer different "tracks" to customers based on their needs or purchase history.
E.g. a "short-cut" to re-order from a list of past purchases, a "standard" track that combines online and in-person experience, or an "advanced" option featuring a product configurator for complex requirements.
7. Real-Time Pricing And Inventory Update
There's nothing more frustrating for a customer than to jump through all the hoops to make a purchase only to be told a few days later that the product is not available.
To avoid unnecessary frustrations, B2B merchants are using dynamic pricing and real-time inventory update on their eCommerce platforms to enhance customer experience.
8. Video Marketing
In the increasingly crowded B2B marketplace, inbound marketing -- with content marketing as a major component -- has become the gold standard for attracting, converting and retaining customers.
Video is gaining more prominence as a B2B content marketing strategy.
Over 895,000 hours of some of the top B2B videos were watched in 2014. Nearly half of B2B buyers are viewing 30 minutes or more of B2B-related videos during their research processes, and almost 20% watch over an hour of content. (source)
9. Subscription-Based Business Model
Subscription-based business models are gaining popularity in the B2B space and are no longer limited to SaaS providers.
Such business models make the online purchasing process more convenient for customers while generating recurring revenue for the company, which is more predictable and profitable.
10. Streamlined Backend Technology
An optimal user experience requires seamless integration of a variety of functionalities.
The increasing complexity of such integration, however, can cost a company a great deal of time, money and headache.
In 2017 and beyond, more B2B eCommerce companies will adopt "born-in-the-cloud" B2B eCommerce platforms to streamline maintenance, reduce error, augment customer experience, and reduce Total Cost of Ownership.