2020 was a catalytic year for B2B e-commerce as many buyers and sellers were unable to engage in the traditional in-person sales process. The resulting shift to e-commerce is set to last as a study from Mckinsey shows that 75% of B2B decision-makers prefer buying online and conducting remote interactions over traditional in-person sales.
As more companies turn to digital sales channels, here are the top five B2B e-commerce trends to watch out for in 2021.
B2B E-Commerce Trends In 2021
Emphasis on Self-Service
Self-service will continue to grow in importance as more B2B buyers look for more control over the buying experience. Research from OroCommerce shows that 86% of B2B customers prefer using self-service tools to place orders and check order statuses without interacting with a sales representative.
Going forward, B2B buyers will expect more from their vendors’ self-service tools. Features such as quick ordering, simple replenishment, and managing users will become table stakes and vendors who don't offer this functionality will miss out on many buyers.
In 2021, B2B companies will look to provide their buyers more personalized shopping experiences. Research from Salesforce shows that 72% of B2B buyers expect vendors to have a deep understanding of their needs and to use these insights to create highly personalized experiences.
Whereas B2C personalization focuses on building an emotional connection with the customer, B2B personalization focuses more on improving efficiencies to help decision-makers streamline the buying process. Expect vendors to further customize their product catalog and provide product recommendations relevant to their buyers’ needs to help make their job easier.
Expanding Payment Options
Because B2B commerce involves complex transactions, buyers need flexible payment options. Customers may complete more orders online but the ability to pay invoices via check, wire, or bank transfer is still critical, especially when placing large orders. Additionally, B2B companies often have different decision-makers within their company making purchases and these individuals may have different buying preferences.
In 2021, look for B2B companies to continue to expand the types of payment methods offered to buyers. Net Solutions’ State of B2B Commerce report shows that 63% of B2B e-commerce companies offer mobile wallets as one of their payment options. Expect to see this number rise as more buyers browse and shop on their phones and become accustomed to the convenience mobile wallets provide when making B2C purchases.
Expect B2B sellers to focus more on omnichannel commerce as B2B marketplaces continue to grow. Buyers now conduct more research independently and marketplaces allow buyers to save time on research as they can compare various options in a single place.
RBC Capital Markets estimates that Amazon Business, an Amazon B2B marketplace, will experience the greatest influx of B2B buyers and sellers, reaching $52 billion in sales by 2023.
B2B sellers will need to focus on adopting more flexible e-commerce technologies to successfully sell on multiple online channels.
Headless commerce is an approach to e-commerce architecture where the frontend presentation layer is separated from the backend commerce functionality. This setup gives B2B companies more flexibility and is critical to providing personalized experiences and adopting true omnichannel selling.
With a headless system, your e-commerce site isn’t bound to a specific template. You have full control over the frontend design and can create unique, personalized experiences for each customer. Because headless solutions are built on APIs, B2B companies can innovate faster and continuously evolve to meet shifting customer needs while adopting new technologies.
The mere concept of headless technologies may seem scary to some B2B businesses but forward-thinking companies like MSC and National Business Furniture have already turned to Fabric to help seamlessly scale their commerce experience.
As more companies begin to realize the benefits, expect to see more widespread adoption in 2021 and beyond.