The 2021 B2B ecommerce trends you need to know

Read on to discover the 2021 B2B ecommerce trends you need to know to drive sales and business growth in the coming year.

 

2020 was a complicated year for many of us. As lockdowns were implemented, a lot of companies have suddenly been thrust into digital transformation to sell their products online. Budgets were redistributed to other areas of the business, and sales and marketing strategies have had to be completely rewritten to comply with a new, online, market.

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. For many B2B companies it simply meant bringing forward their timeline by a year or two.

In fact, according to McKinsey, 90% of B2B decision makers believe the digital and remote working models seen in 2020 will be around for a long time and 3 out of 4 believe this new model works better than before COVID-19.

But the question is, what trends should we be expecting this year? We investigate the 2021 B2B ecommerce trends you need to know.

Ecommerce platforms

As the pandemic continues, and lockdowns continue to be lifted and then imposed again, it’s clear that it is important to sell online to survive.

COVID-19 has highlighted to B2B organisations not only where their ecommerce platforms are succeeding but also where there are problems. It is predicted that this year, chosen marketplaces will be one of the most important factors for B2B growth in 2021.

It’s very likely that we’ll see a continuation of the development and growth of B2B ecommerce platforms and marketplaces in the coming years, as more and more B2B organisations switch their focus to online markets.

If you need help choosing the right B2B ecommerce platform for your business, we’ve compared the leading vendors.

 

Personalisation

Rapidly growing within B2C environments in recent years, personalisation is fast becoming more prominent in B2B ecommerce.

The importance of personalisation in the B2B buying experience cannot be understated, with 72% of B2B buyers stating that they will only engage with personalised message, showing the need to make it a bigger part of your B2B marketing strategy; if you don’t already.

Cyber security

One of the largest takeaways in the shift to remote working has been its exposure of organisations’ cyber security vulnerability.

Whilst working in an office-based environment, cybersecurity was certainly easier to manage. Office-based firewalls are often stronger, and can be maintained and monitored easily. However, standard VPNs don’t often provide the same level of protection – leading to a surge in cyber-attacks during 2020.

The WEF (World Economic Forum) stated that cyber criminals are more likely to attack when companies are confused, distracted or undergoing maintenance or big changes internally. With COVID-19, many companies were exposed as they were trying to set up and manage remote working.

If last year has taught us one thing, it is the importance of cyber security to secure all of your channels, especially important for firms with a distributed workforce.

Self-service

Whether you deal with B2B or B2C they have one thing in common, consumers want instant gratification. They want everything now or even better, yesterday.

Self-service is a tool which has been a recent implementation in B2B, but it has rapidly become a popular choice for consumers. In fact according to research conducted by OroCommerce, 86% of customers prefer self service tools for all tasks from ordering, reordering, and checking order statuses. The idea of being able to complete all of this, any time of the day without needing to communicate with a sales rep is clearly more appealing to B2B.

In fact, last year 57% of the purchase process was already completed by consumers before they spoke to a live agent showing how important self-service is and will be this year.

 

Customer experience

One important B2B ecommerce trend which has been evolving for many years and is sure to continue this year is the importance of customer experience. This means not only website usability and accessibility but also website speeds and interfaces which can lead to an improved engagement rate.

With B2B ecommerce platforms it isn’t just the website’s performance they need to track but also the self-service experience as this needs to be seamless to encourage more sales, including real time order and stock tracking. 

It is also important to be accessible on all devices which is why many B2B companies have been considering and implementing our next trend; PWAs.

PWA & Headless architecture

Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) have slowly become a popular piece of architecture for B2B ecommerce sites. There are many benefits to these including the ability for the site to work effectively across all devices without the consumers needing to download an application.

A PWA increases speed and efficiency and thus improving the customer experience.  In fact, PWAs load up 8 times faster than an average mobile site, and in the world of instant gratification this is vital for grabbing and retaining the potential consumer’s attention and business.  PWAs also offer the ability to reach consumers across iOS and Android devices without the need to build two separate applications.

On a similar note, headless architecture also offers personalisation and strong integration options. It gives you more selling options such as voice integration, smartwatch and television which are all becoming more popular. Furthermore, you can keep your B2B specific features in the back office.

It is expected that more B2B companies will invest in not only PWAs but also headless architecture this year to help the communication of external data to their mobile storefronts. These two pieces of technology are expected to help mobile shopping grow as currently although 53% of web traffic is mobile, only 29% generates sales. This shows there is still some room for mobile sales to grow and expand.

2020 was a year that we couldn’t have predicted, it was full of hurdles but also a time of opportunity. We saw more small businesses being set up as well as the adaptability of businesses when they had to move to a remote working environment. We also saw unprecedented growth in many sectors which is less likely to have occurred at this time in normal circumstances.

We don’t know what 2021 has in store for us, but if last year is anything to go by, it will be full of challenges but also opportunity.

How we can help

Generate UK has been successfully implementing and supporting ecommerce projects for clients for over 12 years. 

As an experienced ecommerce website development agency, we will help navigate you around the complexities of B2B ecommerce – from filtering and product pages to integrations with 3rd party systems, payment gateways, and website security.

Get in touch with one of our B2B ecommerce consultants to have a chat about the best B2B ecommerce platform for your requirements.