Three B2B Ecommerce Trends to Watch in 2018

In the past year, more and more B2B companies have realized that failing to keep up with ecommerce is impacting their potential for growth. In fact, falling behind is making it difficult for them to keep the customers they already have. Here are a few of the B2B ecommerce trends that present threats and opportunities in 2018.

#1: B2B Decision-Makers Don’t Want to Talk to Sales

Because of all the nuances and differentiators involved with highly complex products and services, B2B companies are smart to want to engage prospects in a consultative process. However, today’s business decision-makers are on a mission to get through as much of the buying process as possible without human contact. These buyers want to educate themselves and then make a choice or at least a pre-selection without having to navigate one sales pitch after another.

According to Ecommerceandb2b.com, B2B sites should be sales tools assisting the buying process. That’s certainly true. And if your website is not set up to strategically capture leads and equipped with up to date tracking software, your sales team is loosing a big chunk of legit leads browsing your site today. B2B companies that offer both products and services might also want to offer a few clearly defined packages online that are geared toward frequently requested services or a typical RFP. If a given package delivers most of what a buyer wants, they can make a decision to buy faster. The Sales team can catch up with customization of the package once the client is already on board with making a purchase.

#2: Amazon Is Gunning for B2B Customers

As B2B buyers become more comfortable with making decisions based on online research or re-filling stock independently online, companies that make it convenient to buy over the web are going to have the best shot at getting and keeping customers. Amazon already leads the way in best practices for the consumer market and is becoming a real threat in taking over the B2B distribution pipeline as well. While it’s tempting to consider leveraging Amazon Business as a distribution channel, this approach immediately commoditizes even the highest quality products and starts a price war with competitor’s products showing up as alternatives right there on your sales page. 

Amazon can also throw their support behind a vendor selling similar products or even acquire a company and start selling their own preferred product with special incentives. Since Amazon would already have direct access to your customer base in this scenario, your B2B company is at serious risk of losing even more market share with little warning.

As Ray Grady at DigitalCommerce360 points out, “Amazon will continue to cannibalize B2B businesses that can’t provide the same flexible, simple buying experience on their own commerce sites.” Making items easy to find, implementing enhanced search functionality, and consistently providing better information and education than buyers can find on sites like Amazon will all be important factors.

#3: Integration Is a High Priority for B2B Customers

With four out of ten buyers wanting integration with back-end systems such as ERP and Accounting, B2B e-commerce solutions should focus on making this happen. For B2B sellers, investing in integration makes sense because it:

  • Supports the type of easy self-service that customers desire
  • Simplifies order placement and fulfillment
  • Reduces errors and delays, improving customer satisfaction
  • Eliminates time-consuming manual processes for sales and for customers
  • Provides readily trackable data that can be used to capture business insights

This interest in integration coincides with a shift from EDI to API technology for ecommerce. With the API ecosystem growing by leaps and bounds, the cost of integration is dropping. Across a wide variety of industries, integrations that might have taken weeks or months in the past can be completed in days. So, while B2B companies will have to spend to keep up with emerging trends, the payoff can be very quick as well.

Is your B2B ecommerce strategy on track for 2018? Contact our team at LT Marketing for a review.
Linda Tietje