The B2B landscape is changing rapidly, with new digital solutions, market trends, and buyer expectations emerging every day.
To maintain a competitive edge, manufacturers and distributors across all industries are bringing their customer experience online via B2B sales portals and other channels. Common B2B tasks like taking orders over the phone, processing customer service requests manually, and mailing invoices to clients are now relics of the past, and a new era of B2B commerce has arrived.
But simply setting up an online storefront is not enough. Due to the influence of eCommerce trailblazers like Amazon and eBay, consumers now expect fast, accessible, and convenient digital experiences—and B2B buyers are no exception.
Optimization of the online customer experience—the most important trend for today’s B2B companies to focus on—requires a data-driven approach, combined with advanced eCommerce solutions like Shopify and BigCommerce. And businesses that don’t prioritize this will almost certainly miss out on opportunities to expand their customer base, improve client relationships, and increase revenue. In fact, a recent survey shows that 90% of B2B buyers will turn to a competing supplier if they encounter a poor user experience (UI) or user interface (UI).
So how do you deliver the best online purchasing experience possible for your company’s B2B customers? The first step is identifying key B2B eCommerce trends and technologies embraced by today’s most successful organizations. Then, partner with a team of B2B eCommerce experts who can implement, test, and manage these tools and strategies for your business.
Let’s dive in.
Headless commerce involves decoupling the front-end presentation layer from its back-end eCommerce functionality. Components of the customer-facing UX and UI, such as product pages, blog pages, search, and checkout are launched and scaled separately from internal applications, like inventory management and payment processing software.
Unlike traditional eCommerce websites with monolithic tech stacks, the different elements of a headless site communicate data and trigger events amongst each other via API calls. Therefore, with headless architecture, any updates made to the front-end won’t create additional work for back-end developers, resulting in streamlined workflows and faster deployment times for new online storefronts, site features, content, and redesigns.
Many organizations are migrating from monolithic to headless commerce architecture to improve their B2C and B2B experience. According to a 2021 survey of decision makers in the B2B space, 59% utilize headless solutions, while 29% are considering making the switch.
Going headless offers greater control over the customer experience, particularly for eCommerce businesses that operate in a number of different countries, manage several brands under one roof, and regularly modify or add new features and content to the front-end.
Product information and inventory management tools
Providing up-to-date product information on eCommerce websites is crucial to delivering a smooth customer experience. However, B2B companies often overlook this, and their customers end up purchasing out-of-stock items, leading to longer-than-expected delivery times—or, due to misleading product descriptions, they end up purchasing the wrong items altogether.
Product information and inventory management becomes increasingly complex for suppliers looking to sell to customers in bulk across multiple channels, from physical stores, to online sales portals, to third-party marketplaces. This is why so many wholesalers are investing in product information management (PIM) solutions, designed to streamline the process of adding, editing, and distributing product details across different storefronts.
It should be noted that advanced eCommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce now offer built-in PIM and inventory management tools, making it easier for merchants to establish a single source of truth for their product data. There are other third-party solutions available as well, such as Salsify and Jasper, which suppliers can leverage to meet their unique product requirements.
Advanced product search functionality
In addition to accurate product information, B2B buyers expect to search for and locate product pages with as little friction as possible. By implementing an intelligent website taxonomy and search functionality, your B2B customers can intuitively navigate the portal, find what they’re looking for, view different product variants, and make purchases. The goal here is to facilitate a self-service customer experience, where users rarely need the help of a sales or customer service representative.
Chatbots are another popular trend sweeping the B2B eCommerce space, with 58% of companies now employing chatbot technology. Powered by AI, these bots can be trained to help customers find the products they’re looking for, as well as answer basic questions about shipping, returns, warranties, and so on.
Research shows that 48% of digital buyers spend more money when the customer experience is personalized. So what exactly is eCommerce personalization?
In short, personalization involves leveraging AI and ML technologies to segment customers, based on a variety of factors such as browsing history and past purchases. Marketers leverage this data to automatically deliver tailored product recommendations, marketing emails, promotions, and other content to specific users—resulting in higher customer engagement overall.
Third-party B2B marketplaces
Digital B2B marketplaces like Amazon Business and Alibaba help companies extend their reach to a wider audience. Most buyers prefer the speed, convenience, and security of these eCommerce websites—and it’s important to meet your customers where they prefer to shop, rather than always expecting them to come to your site. Although it’s not free, listing products on B2B marketplaces presents a great opportunity to increase eCommerce sales, gain more brand exposure, and expand your customer base.
Embrace modern B2B eCommerce trends & technologies for your growing business
Whether you’re looking to bring the B2B customer experience online, revamp your current sales portal, migrate to a headless architecture, streamline inventory management, or all of the above, Codal is here to help.
We specialize in optimizing eCommerce experiences for both B2C and B2B operations by leveraging cutting-edge technologies—from robust eCommerce platforms, to AI-driven chatbots and other advanced third-party integrations. Our global team has the technical expertise and resources to design, develop, test, launch, and maintain complex digital solutions that facilitate powerful customer experiences.
Over the past decade, we’ve built custom B2B eCommerce solutions for a wide variety of organizations, including a famous artisan gift retailer. Today, we partner with two of the biggest eCommerce platforms in the world, Shopify and BigCommerce, along with many other innovative technology providers.
With Codal on your side, you can enhance the B2B buyer journey, improve customer relationships, extend your sales and marketing reach, and boost revenue for your business.
Interested in learning more about modern B2B eCommerce trends and technologies? Get in touch with a member of our team today!