The 2020 pandemic hit all aspects of businesses across each industry vertical and left them with some important lessons for the future. The business to business (B2B) commerce also had a drastic blow in the second quarter of 2020.
Most B2B eCommerce players realized that being digital was not enough to survive in such critical and unprecedented times. They infuse their businesses with the power of the latest technologies to stay competitive and live up to evolving customer expectations.
2021 would be a year where most of the B2B eCommerce businesses would continue to tap into the cutting edge technologies and offering an experience that matches the expectations. And what better to understand how the B2B eCommerce industry would shape than going through the expected trends.
So, let’s dive into the B2B eCommerce trends in 2021 that are expected to shape the industry.
Tapping On Eco-Consciousness Becomes A Norm
2020 was a tough year for everyone, which made everyone more conscious about their impact on others and the environment. 2021 would be a benchmark year when businesses would be more considerate towards the environment. And this would be the result of the eco-conscious that has woken up in consumers.
B2B players would look forward to adopting a more eco-friendly approach to their business practices to reduce the environmental impact. This helps the buyers target two birds with the same stone. They get the product they want while also fulfilling their wish of doing right by nature. To gain a competitive edge over other brands, the B2B sellers might start offering more eco-friendly products and promoting their eco-friendly manufacturing strategies or process.
- Sustainable options would be a bigger hit in the coming year, and B2B buyers and sellers would be looking forward to inclining towards them.
- Optimizing the processes of e-commerce trade, packing, delivery, etc., would also become more eco-friendly.
- B2B businesses would be looking to reduce their emissions to make a positive image and impact.
- More businesses would shift to digital systems or eCommerce software to reduce the physical stuff required for transactions.
Mixed Reality To Enhance Shopping Experience
The next trend that would dominate the B2B eCommerce world would be the ushering of Mixed reality and immersive experience. This is a really booming trend in the B2C industry as more brands want their end customers to have the exact look and feel of the product before making a purchase decision. But even the B2B buyers deserve the same experience in making a purchase, especially because they are making a much bigger deal in the B2B trade.
Be it showing the product to the buyer or explaining the features, or how it could be a better fit than any other product in the market. While there’s still a long way to go for the B2B companies to incorporate this mix of the latest technology in their offering, in 2021, many B2B players would be seen taking a step towards this. Not only would it enhance the overall customer experience, but it would also help in making the purchase more convenient and speedier.
Digital Sales Becomes The Norm
The digital-first mindset would not just be a nice-to-have in 2021; it will become a must-have. Covid-19 has impacted the shopping behavior of buyers across all demographics. Value, convenience, availability, and safety have become the top factors contributing to a shoppers’ inclination towards a particular seller. And digital payment options check all four boxes. It is convenient, easily available, offers value as cashback or reward points, and is extremely safe. Digital commerce would become the most prominent trend in eCommerce.
As per research by McKinsey, over 66% of the B2B buyers have drifted away from the traditional channel of talking to a sales representative. They want to interact on digital platforms and indulge in digital sales.
eCommerce Goes Headless And API-Driven
A trend that will be a priority for businesses in 2021 would be to get on the API bandwagon and get an API driven solution. As customer expectations will increase, there would be a growing need for businesses to evolve and deliver as per the expectations. And nothing would be able to help these eCommerce players more than going for a headless or API-driven eCommerce solution.
Defining API-driven or Headless eCommerce
Headless eCommerce means solutions where there is no front-end delivery layer and APIs are used for delivering the products, reviews, and other data on the users’ screens. This is an architecture that will prepare the eCommerce platforms for the age of IoT or the Internet of Things.
The eCommerce platform is delivered via a RESTful API backed by cloud infrastructure and a back-end data model. This would allow the users to consume the content for products, blogs, descriptions, etc., on various devices or screens like their kiosk screens, smartwatches, phone screens, Alexa skill, etc. There are several reasons why headless or API-driven eCommerce would be the rage in 2021. Some are:
- Extreme flexibility for the front-end developers to create different user experiences without going to develop from scratch.
- Customizing the user experience becomes an easy feat with a headless eCommerce solution.
- There are endless possibilities for customizing the user experience because of the removal of the front-end layer.
- Integration and communication with any other platforms becomes seamless due to the API it is built on
Dynamic And Elastic Pricing Gains Popularity
Bargaining and negotiating are at the core of every buying human. And the sellers have been using this negotiating nature of buyers to boost their sales. And this would enter the field of B2B eCommerce in 2021. While the B2C model has been offering dynamic pricing like announcing BlackFriday sales, running discount offers, and even offering personalized discounts on the cart, B2B would be embracing the same in 2021.
In the next year, B2B eCommerce would go a step ahead and offer prices based on each customer’s profile analysis. Also, items in stock would be a determining factor in the price. This would help them prevent any losses and make the most of any changes in the stocks or the market condition.
Growth In Direct-To-Consumer Model
Another common trend in B2C eCommerce is creating trade floors by the manufacturers or brands themselves, offering a direct-to-consumer model. The bigger players in the B2B ecosystem would be looking for developers to build their web applications or websites or an app to sell to the consumers directly. Anyone from large-scale enterprises to small and medium-sized businesses can reach out to the large commodity producers to make a direct purchase.
In 2020, individuals buyers and small and medium-sized businesses’ orders increased exponentially, making a larger share of B2B purchases. And they are looking to connect directly with the manufacturers. This gives rise to a Direct-To-Consumer model or (DTC model) in the B2B eCommerce ecosystem. Both the B2B seller and the buyer would benefit from this new model. Sellers can collect their buyer data and sell more effectively while the buyers can get a personalized experience and a better price as any middlemen or platform are eliminated.
Social Selling Gains Craze
B2C multi-vendor eCommerce platforms like Amazon as well as eCommerce brands, have been using social media to offer personalized ads based on their shopping behavior. B2B platforms would also be utilizing these social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, etc., to cater to the consumer buying behavior and expectations.
Social media would become a leading advertising channel for B2B sellers to entice buyers. This would be even more true for brands planning to expand their selling capabilities from just the B2B eCommerce platforms like Alibaba, Indiamart, eBay, etc. Not just selling on social media platforms (social selling), B2B sellers would also be focussing on improving their social
On An Ending Note
The priority for all B2B businesses would be to deliver on the expectation of the buyers. Whether it is through tapping on their eco-consciousness, enhancing the experience through mixed reality, providing a seamless experience with headless eCommerce, dynamic pricing, social selling, or any other means, customer experience would drive it all.
2021 would present the B2B sellers with many opportunities to grow their business. All they need is to follow the B2B eCommerce trends for the year, and they will certainly gain the competitive edge they need to survive and thrive.
Author Bio :
Swati Sharma, a writer by day and an avid reader by night, works as a Content Writer in Classic Informatics, a leading web development company in India. Owing to her passion for her profession, she loves to stay updated about the current & emerging trends in the IT industry.