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4 B2B eCommerce trends for 2021 and Beyond

The year 2020 has brought about a major structural shift in the way B2B commerce operates in the world economy. Due to the onslaught of the Coronavirus pandemic,  a lot of B2B companies have shifted online with an aim to strengthen their digital presence. In fact, recent research by Mckinsey and Company that involved 3,600 B2B decision-makers has concluded that 90% of them expected the digital model to flourish even after the pandemic ends. 

However, the pandemic is not the only reason why B2B commerce is now increasingly inching towards digitization. Here’re a few other reasons that have resulted in this shift –

  • As per a Google research carried out in 2015, B2B buyers now comprise a younger crowd, either millennials or Gen Z, who are more comfortable with the online shopping experience. 
  • Today, most B2B buyers depend upon online research before making a final decision. Studies suggest that a typical B2B buyer carries out at least 12 online searches before making a purchase. 
  • The influence of digital content on the B2B market has gone beyond industries. In fact, buyers hailing from the industrial manufacturing and supply industry rely heavily on online information and reviews.

The aforementioned statistics prove that eCommerce is now a big part of B2B brands and this has resulted in the shaping up of trends that will influence the functioning of the market.

This article is dedicated to discussing these impactful B2B eCommerce trends for 2021 and beyond. Let us have a look at them – 

Launch your B2B Business Online.

Reach New Markets with a B2B Digital Strategy.

Emerging B2B eCommerce trends in 2021

B2B Commerce is here to stay and there’re certain trends that will grow in the years to come. Here’s a brief look at the most influential trends in 2021 and the years to come.

1. Growing B2B online marketplaces

Studies show that as many as 87% of business buyers belonging to all age groups choose online marketplaces for their B2B transactions. B2C marketplaces have always been in vogue but with time, B2B marketplaces have grown rapidly especially after the success of platforms like Amazon Business. 

Online marketplaces are beneficial for both B2B buyers and sellers. On one hand, the buyers get an option to choose the right products from different sellers and vendors in one place. While on the other hand, small-scale vendors get to showcase their products, establish an online presence and grow their business with the backing of a renowned online marketplace.

In recent years, horizontal marketplaces like Amazon Business and vertical marketplaces like GoDirectTrade.com and ABB eMart have risen as major market players. In 2021, it is expected that similar marketplaces will emerge and many major vendors will resort to them for better visibility. 

2. B2C-like Experience

As we discussed earlier, most B2B buyers are now millennials who are habitual to the perks and ease of online shopping and they expect a similar experience even when they’re browsing digital commerce for business. 

In 2021, B2B brands will be seen focusing on enhancing user experience and creating simplicity for B2B buyers at every touch point. Here are a few changes that will take place in B2B eCommerce sites – 

  • Making product discovery simpler with personalization and product recommendations. 
  • A push towards receiving ratings, reviews and testimonials for every product.
  • Detailed product descriptions including images, videos, tutorials and downloadable documentation.
  •  An increase in digital marketing efforts to leverage inbound marketing.

3. Dropshipping and DTC

Dropshipping is an order fulfillment method that enables a store to sell a product without keeping it in stock. Whenever the store gets an order, they pass it on to the supplier and the supplier ships orders to the customers. 

On the other hand, DTC or direct-to-consumer is a method where a business lets go of middlemen or retailers and engages with the consumers directly. 

After the pandemic hit the world, businesses had to find different ways to reach end-customers as the stores closed down and transportation halted. The only way to manage this situation was by simplifying the supply chain and thus, more and more brands shifted to DTC and drop shipping.

In the early months of quarantine, PepsiCo. launched two new online DTC stores and have been delighted with the direct rapport they were able to build through them.  Similarly, Nike has been working on a  DTC model and has been successful in bringing their manufacturing business closer to the endpoint of sale. 

Both drop shipping and DTC have given B2B brands a new perspective about consumer behavior and preference. They have helped in conducting fruitful market research and understanding the pulse of the ongoing trends. 

In 2021, these trends are bound to sustain and grow as complementary methodologies besides the traditional approach of dealing with the channel partners. 

4. Unified Commerce

The importance of providing a similar experience across all channels and physical stores has become immense in recent years. 

As the periphery of B2B buyers is growing, so is their touchpoint increasing. Research suggests that B2B brands are doubling their spending on digital marketing. As a result, B2B buyers can now discover a product online and decide to purchase it in a physical store. Thus, it is important that every outlet, whether digital or physical, remains in sync with each other. This process of ensuring that a brand is consistent with consumer experience at all touchpoints is called unified commerce

In 2021, the B2B industry will witness a rise in connected operations and integrated marketing strategies. Unified commerce is here to stay and B2B businesses are starting to recognize its need. 

Conclusion

2021 is a year that will witness a surge in digital initiatives and a shift to a client-first approach in B2B eCommerce. As we take steps towards a new world, B2B will stand side by side with B2C and start putting consumers first.