9 Hot B2B Ecommerce Trends That Will Shape the Industry in 2021

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  • 8 min
  • Dec 03, 2020
Yana S.

Yana S.

Copywriter

Kirill Z.

Kirill Z.

Business Analyst

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COVID-19 has influenced many aspects of the B2B ecommerce market and caused drastic changes. This article presents the trends that have emerged in B2B ecommerce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and how you can use them for your benefit.

B2B ecommerce statistics and trends

Multi-vendor B2B ecommerce trends

The trends we describe in this article have begun a new era in the B2B ecommerce market. The following B2B ecommerce trends and statistics can help business owners adjust to the “new normal” and bring new opportunities to both those just starting their path in B2B ecommerce and those who want to continue growing in this sphere.

Latest trends in b2b ecommerce

Let’s dive into each trend in today’s B2B ecommerce market.

#1 Transition to digital sales

The digital sales model is the future of B2B ecommerce. B2B decision-makers that used to complete sales in person have started to shift away from this practice and make purchases remotely. According to the latest statistics by McKinsey, only 30% of B2B ecommerce buyers still want to interact with sales representatives in person, while all the rest prefer interacting remotely, making the digital sales model a strong trend. 

A remote digital sales model is not only a necessary measure during the pandemic; about 88% of B2B decision-makers are likely to stick to this model for at least 12 months after the pandemic ends. This is why more and more manufacturers are searching for ways to sell their products and services online. And that’s why there’s growing demand for online B2B marketplaces.

#2 Small manufacturers shifting online 

Businesses will be using digital commerce to “bridge through the pandemic and into the next decade."

John Caplan, Alibaba.com, President of North America and Europe

Small manufacturers can no longer provide their products or services in a traditional way. In the context of quarantine, they either have to adjust to new conditions or leave the market. To keep the lights on, they try to increase their online presence by joining marketplaces. ShopZio, an online B2B marketplace, claims to have more than doubled the number of vendors in April 2020 after introducing a special onboarding policy in response to COVID-19.

#3 Large manufacturers launching their own marketplaces 

Massive marketplaces such as Amazon Business and Alibaba allowed manufacturers to quickly react to the changes brought by the pandemic. However, after several months, large manufacturers started to create their own marketplaces. 

Opting for massive marketplaces is no longer a long-term solution for large manufacturers. The reason is that selling on Amazon Business and Alibaba doesn’t provide an option to stand out from similar manufacturers and makes all manufacturers seem alike. 

Although it requires more time and effort, launching their own marketplaces helps vendors get a competitive advantage over those selling products on third-party marketplace platforms.

#4 Adoption of new payment platforms

Since the pandemic has negatively impacted the revenue and paying capacity of many businesses worldwide, new payment platforms have appeared to let businesses postpone payments or pay in installments. 

An example of such a system is the credit-as-a-service platform introduced by MSTS Inc. Currently, Alibaba offers Payment Terms – a new payment option implemented through a credit-as-a-service platform that allows qualified businesses in the US to pay for their orders within 60 days after they receive an invoice. This postponement is available for businesses without any interest or fees.

The adoption of new payment systems and the introduction of innovative payment options help B2B marketplaces attract new business players and improve the customer experience on their platforms. 

#5 Dynamic pricing and price negotiation options 

Research by Bain & Company shows that top B2B performers are nearly twice as likely to use dynamic pricing as their competitors. Dynamic pricing lets vendors adjust their product and service pricing to their business and market needs in several ways. For instance, vendors can establish prices for goods or services after analyzing each customer’s profile. Or they can change pricing depending on the demand for certain goods or services. Thus, if particular items are low in stock, vendors can increase their prices; if items are in low demand, they can lower the prices. 

Dynamic pricing can not only protect sellers from losses due to changes in the market but can help them take advantage of those changes. 

Before the pandemic, buyer–seller interactions could involve several cycles of price negotiations before a sale. Today, marketplaces try to fully address the need of business buyers to request a quote from vendors and manufacturers and negotiate the price. 

Price negotiations, in turn, can bring transparency to buyer–seller relationships on a marketplace and build customer loyalty.

#6 Focus on high-quality end-to-end service

Removing friction in the purchasing process will increase conversion rates and cart size.

Brandon Spear, president of MSTS

B2B buyers now strongly prefer self-service channels to research, evaluate, order, and reorder goods. However, decent self-service is not enough to please customers. After the exceptional experience they’ve received as consumers on B2C or P2P marketplaces, B2B buyers expect a corresponding level of service from B2B marketplaces. 

B2B marketplaces have to provide exceptional service to their customers from placing an order all the way through getting the order delivered. Alibaba started cooperating with Freightos to let their buyers arrange bulk shipments, choose from multiple carrier options, book, manage, and track ocean and air freight shipments, and check shipment statuses.

Marketplaces that provide buyer- and seller-driven experiences will not only result in customer loyalty, but also increased conversions for B2B sellers.

Brandon Spear, president of MSTS

According to McKinsey, B2B decision-makers are more than twice as likely to choose suppliers who provide outstanding digital performance than those who provide fair performance. 

One of the major challenges that marketplaces and vendors face is delivering on three aspects decision-makers value the most: speed, transparency, and expertise. To meet expectations, B2B marketplaces should provide buyers with a variety of shipping options, a comprehensive and intuitive search and checkout process, and support at every stage of the buyer journey. 

For instance, by implementing a live messaging feature, a marketplace can deliver on all three major buyer requirements: getting a speedy response, receiving transparent communications, and validating a vendor’s expertise. 

One more way to increase buyers’ loyalty is to solve their biggest pain points. Among the most frustrating issues buyers face on B2B marketplaces are lengthy ordering processes, difficult search functionality, and technical glitches while shopping. 

Those who want to become successful in B2B ecommerce definitely need to take these aspects into account and implement all features and flows that bring their customer service to the next level. 

#7 Larger order sizes 

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, B2B buyers are no longer afraid to purchase large consignments of costly products online. 

Results of a survey by McKinsey show that 15% of respondents are ready to spend more than $1 million on B2B purchases, 12% are ready to spend between $500,000 and $1 million, and 32% are willing to pay between $50,000 and $500,000 to cover their business necessities online. 

The readiness of businesses to order and spend opens up new possibilities for marketplace owners. In response to the high demand for large consignments of costly products, marketplace owners can widen their lists of items presented on their platforms, invite more vendors to join their marketplaces, and increase revenue. 

#8 Mobile optimization

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a 250% increase in mobile app ordering on the B2B market. A study by McKinsey shows that the number of customers who prefer placing orders in mobile apps increased by 30% compared to pre-pandemic period. Thus, the convenience of marking purchases on mobile devices is a vital aspect for buyers when deciding what supplier to cooperate with and what marketplace to buy from. A mobile application contributes to the end-to-end service provided to customers on your marketplace and is a must if you wish to stand out from your competitors. 

#9 Governments turning to marketplaces

Governments are starting to make use of online B2B marketplaces. In June 2020, the US General Services Administration (GSA) signed contracts with Amazon Business, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Overstock.com within a pilot program. According to these contracts, the GSA is going to order various products ranging from furniture and office products to laboratory supplies.

If the cooperation between the GSA and ecommerce marketplaces meets the government’s expectations, the GSA will make government procurements totalling up to $6 billion a year through ecommerce marketplaces. This fact can encourage governments of other countries to cooperate with B2B ecommerce marketplaces in the future as well.

Summing up

Emerging B2B ecommerce trends can open the door for a powerful start and lasting growth of your own business. However, it’s crucial to use these trends the right way. 

CONTENTS

FAQ

    • Transition to digital sales
    • Small manufacturers shifting online
    • Large manufacturers launching their own marketplaces
    • Adoption of new payment platforms
    • Dynamic pricing and price negotiation options
    • Focus on high-quality end-to-end service
    • Larger order sizes
    • Mobile optimization
    • Governments turning to marketplaces
  1. The most drastic change in the B2B ecommerce market caused by COVID-19 has been a shift from traditional in-person sales to digital remote sales. This shift, in turn, has caused a boom in building new B2B marketplaces.

  2. The emerging trends such as a willingness of businesses to spend more on ecommerce marketplaces and governments’ readiness to cooperate with digital ecommerce platforms open up promising new opportunities for those who decide launch their own B2B marketplaces.

    If you’re searching for a team to help you launch a B2B marketplace, contact RubyGarage.

Authors:

Yana S.

Yana S.

Copywriter

Kirill Z.

Kirill Z.

Business Analyst

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