7 B2B eCommerce Trends to Watch in 2021

Manufacturers who apply B2C eCommerce lessons to the B2B digital customer experience are in it for the win

Key Takeaways:

  • B2B digital sales grew faster than total sales in 2020
  • Millennials make up a large cohort of B2B buyers and they demand a B2C eCommerce experience
  • Lessons taken from B2C eCommerce can improve efficiencies and the customer experience
  • By adopting trends now, manufacturers can prepare for the future

Many manufacturing businesses saw themselves scrambling to digitally transform and enter the eCommerce marketplace in 2020, and it paid off. Amid supply chain disruptions and the near impossibility of face-to-face meetings, B2B digital sales grew 10.9%, even as total manufacturing and distributor sales grew by only 1.5%.

A recent UPS study on Industrial Buying Dynamics found that 38% of those buyers are Millennials, a cohort that demands the seamless online experience they already get from most retail eCommerce sites. Providing online ordering isn’t enough – buyers today want personalization, reliable partners, and a mix of offline and online functionality.

They are looking for features like online quote requests and, importantly, personalized pricing. A study by PROS found that many – 64% – would switch vendors if the company offered them real-time personalized quotes. Manufacturers can learn a lot from B2C companies and how they conduct online business and satisfy customers.

It’s all about the user experience, so let’s talk about the eCommerce technology trends impacting B2B sales in 2021.

1. Create a B2B eCommerce experience that mimics B2C

March 2020 saw 30% of manufacturing companies generate 60%-80% of their global revenues from eCommerce. These are companies that took B2C learnings and created an online experience that gave them solid wins, evolving their buyer’s journey to conform to the B2C encounters they already enjoy.

Today, 73% of online B2B buyers are Millennials, 68% of them would rather get information online than talking to a sales rep, and 61% use mobile devices to do that research. The right technology creates an environment that brings customer satisfaction and increased ROI.

2. Artificial intelligence aids personalization

Artificial Intelligence (AI) predicts shopping patterns, so you can personalize the experience for each buyer.

Chatbots powered by AI can provide 24/7 support to shoppers by answering questions and delivering personalized and targeted offers, all with self-learning capabilities that actually improve over time. This results in improved customer retention, customer loyalty, and a truly personalized shopping experience.

Through gathered data, AI can analyze customer behavior across multiple touchpoints — including mobile apps, emails, and your website — to see how customers are performing online interactions. This allows your business to provide a consistent user experience, no matter which device is used.

3. Augmented reality speeds purchasing decisions

With B2B research and purchasing moving online, potential customers want to see product features and functions up close to make sure they are compatible with existing systems. Using Augmented Reality (AR), they can see life-size renderings of the products in their own environments, which is a crucial feature for sizing equipment and other large items.

The entire product catalog can be on-site, so buyers can make decisions after viewing everything that might be relevant to their needs and see customizations and additions within a real-life context. This feature provides the kind of tailored, personalized approach that is expected by most B2B prospects today.

AR is also incredibly useful for sales reps on the road. Demonstrations become easy through the eCommerce site and purchasing approvals are speedier through this visualization tool.

4. Voice-activated tools support transactions

Using CPQ technology, data stored in siloed channels becomes a single system that supports transactions across all of your owned or partner e-commerce sites. This enables the system to generate accurate price quotes for configured products in real-time, something that today’s buyers demand.

This also improves quote-to-order speed and capabilities, which boosts revenue.

5. Mobile apps will drive sales

Most buyers today expect your brand to have a mobile app. They are less price-conscious than consumers, so to win and keep customers, manufacturers often use their app to add value. Rather than offering different features and lower pricing, B2B sellers must optimize the entire buyer journey from research to final product delivery.

The goal is to offer a faster, easier, feature-packed experience that streamlines the entire process. In fact, 76% of people overall say they prefer an app to a mobile-enabled website. Apps should feature things like push notifications about products personalized to the buyer, a tool to accept payments, and an easy way to make repeat purchases.

Apps boost retention and loyalty, as well. Every time an app user checks their phone, they will see your logo and be reminded of your company.

6. Multi-channel communication keeps you in touch

It’s not all about websites and apps. It’s important to connect with prospects and customers in every available way.

This includes things like social media apps, texts, and email. A prospect may comment on and share your Twitter post on Monday, respond to an email marketing message on Wednesday, and then click your text message update on their order status.

Successful multi-channel campaigns require precise targeting, personalized offers, and lead nurturing. This sounds daunting, but the right technology can make it a breeze.

7. Connect your data sources to collect and capitalize on insights

Companies often have data silos that don’t talk to each other across departments. Sales data may not be integrated with accounting, for example.

Unified data provides the ability to understand and provide both a better customer journey and create business efficiencies. It is a must for planning, forecasting, budgeting, and product development. By integrating data from support contacts, live chat, social media, purchasing, and event sequences during the customer journey, customer behavior can be captured and analyzed to provide valuable insights for decision-makers.

Trends in eCommerce are fueled by technology that’s constantly evolving to meet customer expectations. To become and remain successful, the buyer’s journey must stay at the center of both operations and technology decisions. Today’s trends will become tomorrow’s standards, so understanding and implementing the right technology solutions will prepare you for whatever comes next.

Stay ahead of the eCommerce trends with enosix

SAP solutions can optimize your eCommerce efforts. To select the right integration for your SAP data, you need a partner that understands your company and its unique market position.

enosix has SAP and Salesforce experts on hand to solve your toughest integration challenges. We can connect SAP to Salesforce B2B Commerce with a pre-built integration, or we can integrate with the front-end of your choice via our REST API. No matter which option you choose, we can help you build a scalable, modern, and user-friendly eCommerce site.

Discover how our SAP solutions can help bring your Salesforce website and other eCommerce endeavors to integrated, productive life. To find out more, schedule a demo today or reach out with questions.

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