Technology This is what B2B borrows from B2C commerce

This is what B2B borrows from B2C commerce

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During two years of lockdowns and working from home, consumers flooded online to visit their favorite stores and purchase items from cherished brands. Many did this for the first time. Less well documented is that something similar happened in the B2B space. In fact, sales on B2B commerce sites increased nearly 18% year-over-year in 2021, to more than $1.6 trillion worldwide. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

But simply replicating a standard online shopping experience will no longer be enough to win the hearts and minds of buyers. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, B2B trading companies must deliver the engaging, exciting experiences customers crave. To do this, they must take a composable, best-of-breed approach.

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The North American B2B market is predicted to outpace digital commerce $4.6 trillion by 2025. But as economic headwinds intensify, sellers must fight for every last customer. That means giving them what they want. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of buyers now expect a B2C-like experience, according to IDC. And with three quarters (73%) of millennials now involved in B2B purchasing decisions, there is certainly no turning back.

But what does an immersive B2C experience look like today? It can combine physical and digital capabilities, such as the concept of a “cashless” store. Popularized by Amazon Go and other supermarket providers, the idea is to create a seamless, frictionless shopping experience. Armed with a mobile app-based account, registered customers can access the store at any time by simply scanning their device. Items can be scanned by intelligent in-store sensors as they are placed in the customer’s basket, to create a completely checkout-less experience. Alternatively, they can be scanned automatically at the end of the purchase process, such as in the German trade shop Wurth 24.

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As B2B commerce providers look to gain competitive advantage and improve efficiency by reducing reliance on staff, we can expect this model to be replicated across the industry, especially in areas such as wholesale and trade supply.

Go social

Social commerce is another fast-growing area that consumers seem to love. The live streaming market in the US alone is expected to reach $25 billion by 2023, according to Core view Research. It is about broadening the customer base by making it possible to buy via social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok and Twitter. About 40% of B2B companies see the potential in social media selling – a figure that will only grow.

Why? Because it is increasingly what shoppers are used to. Whether they buy from a YouTube live stream or use direct click-to-buy or click-to-sign-up links on Twitter, it’s fast, easy and empowers the buyer to make purchases without having to jump back and forth from app to app. No wonder social commerce already accounts for more than 4% of total digital commerce market in the US

B2B commerce sellers should now start defining their social commerce goals and expanding their marketing strategy. By driving engagement and creating seamless purchasing opportunities across social channels, there is a huge opportunity to increase profits and build closer relationships with their customers. Those who are able to create an authoritative presence in social commerce early on have the best chance of success.

A piece of marketplace

Finally, there is the B2C macro trend of online marketplaces to consider. Done right, it can boost growth: Research shows that 40% of B2B buyers in the US, UK and Australia plan to buy from Amazon Business in the future. A similar number say they already regularly use the marketplace as a “starting point” for purchases. But listing on Amazon would do little to grow your business – in fact, it could sideline your brand and turn it into little more than a logistics service provider for Amazon.

By creating their own B2B marketplaces, enterprises can deliver more value for customers, themselves and their partners. Consider trading electronic components Resourceability, which now sells hundreds of millions of items worldwide on its specialized marketplace. Building such ecosystems can take time, but the rewards speak for themselves: an attractive alternative revenue stream and the ability to build relationships directly with customers. Suppliers will flock to these marketplaces, attracted by the opportunity to reach more customers with minimal capital expenditure. And buyers get a wider product range, competitive pricing, easier browsing and improved product transparency.

The composable commercial difference

We’ve come a long way in a few years. But there is still a huge amount of innovation waiting in the B2B digital commerce market. Often the roadblock is not vision, but technology. Monolithic digital commerce platforms such as Salesforce and SAP restrict customers and make them conform to the vendor’s product roadmap and market strategy. Trends come and go by the time the incumbent giants realize they need to offer more to their customers.

Instead, to unleash innovation, B2B trading providers should look to composable trading platforms that support a best-of-breed approach. This allows them to choose features and functionality from different providers and deliver the experiences their customers demand – when they want it and how they want it. It’s a fast track to business agility and growth – and an opportunity to enhance the B2B experience with the best that B2C has to offer.

Boris Lokschin is co-founder and CEO of Spryker Systems.

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Shreya has been with ukbusinessupdates.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider ukbusinessupdates.com team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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