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Top B2B E-commerce Trends & Best Practices for 2021

Blog: MattsenKumar Blog

A recent Forrester report suggests “74% of B2B buyers rely on online research for their work purchases”. With the increasing percentage of millennials in decision-making roles at global organizations, a huge percentage of work purchases are being done through online channels.

Millennials are used to the ease of shopping provided by B2C players like Amazon and Flipkart. Amazing offers, multiple payment options, line of credit, quality customer support and accurate product recommendation provided by B2C has spoiled shoppers and now they want B2B players to follow the suite.

The increasing reliance on B2B players for completing work purchases has led to a huge paradigm shift. More and more traditional B2B players are now contemplating opportunities and availing of e-commerce outsourcing services for a smoother transition.

What are the Drivers of B2B Migration?

Until 2020, a good number of B2B stakeholders were happy with the status quo; the COVID pandemic that restricted movement, impacted production, and affected distribution pushed people to think digital. In 2021, B2B offline players are willing to explore e-commerce technologies and product management services to make their online presence felt.

Some of the top reasons that are driving the migration of B2B players

Demand from Customers: B2B stakeholders are constantly running into clients who ask questions like “are you guys selling online” and “Can we order this via your website?”. As mentioned, the growing number of millennials in decision-making roles is bringing the required paradigm shift.

The Ease of Doing Business: Unlike a decade ago, when Flipkart started its operation in India and only offered cash on delivery, today a huge percentage of users are willing to pay online. The ease of doing business is constantly improving and users are aligning with the modern-day facilities. The executives at B2B want to offer the same experience to their end-users, they receive on B2C platforms.

Streamlined Operation: B2B players are fed up with managing receipts, order copies, and credit lines manually. While they have advanced offices that run on automated tools, their operations are stuck in books and papers. With a desire to move on and have streamlined operation, B2B players are eyeing the Internet.

Companies Want to Leverage App Revolution: Everyone working at these B2B companies is reliant on applications like Uber, Lyft, and UberEATS for ordering cabs and food. To build upon the newer opportunities provided by these mobile applications, organizations are looking forward to migrating from offline to a hybrid model.

API Driven Partnership: A good number of manufacturers, distributors, and delivery enterprises have gone online. Since the manufacturer and distributor for B2B and B2C players are the same, the former is coaxed by these business partners to adopt API-based integrations for smoother order management, payment processing, and grievance management.

 Top 5 B2B E-commerce Trends for 2021

1. The Rise of Authority Driven Platforms

In a recent algorithm update, Google made it clear that websites/authors that have authority in a particular niche will rank higher than the other aggregators and curators. Which in layman language translates into “a doctor’s blog will rank above articles written by freelance writers”.

Ever since Google released this algorithm, people witnessed a fine improvement in search results and now they want every other industry to follow the same paradigm. Varied e-commerce marketplaces have been accused of ranking products that pay the highest commission above the others. Similar practices have led to poor customer experience and satisfaction.

More and more customers are migrating towards platforms that function in a specific niche and are not the master of all. A medicine B2B player is likely to be preferred over other popular e-commerce players for procurement of medicines in bulk.

If we look at the B2C industry, we can witness the rise of authority-driven platforms. Eyewear, medicine, home décor, and kids’ fashion are some of the top niches. The good news is that all the niche-driven businesses are attaining Unicorn status, which is a testimony of their popularity and success.

2. Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality to Become Popular

Varied B2C e-commerce players are allowing end-users to access AR & VR and see how a particular product will look in their real life. For example, people can virtually test eyewear and also check how furniture will look in their living room.

The rise of AR & VR is perhaps the perfect example of enterprises diverting budgets towards customer experience innovation. Such steps reduce customer complaints, return requests and also stops end-users from churning.

The B2B industry is likely to follow suit, decision-makers at varied organizations would love to remotely access a tool/system/software before placing a bulk order. The availability will AR & VR helps in the following ways:

3. An Intuitive Platform to Support Customer Engagement

B2C leaders like Amazon and Flipkart have spoilt users by providing them with access to the best possible experience. A customer can use a line of credit (Amazon Pay & Flipkart Pay later), receive accurate product recommendations, enjoy access to theme-based buckets (Christmas Offers & Birthday Gift Ideas) and sort millions of products according to their preference with great ease.

Well, to replicate a similar experience on B2B platforms, organizations will have to start with the basics. First, they will be required to prepare the anatomy of the e-commerce product page, create effective product listings, define categories, create quality content and then keep revising them to make it perfect.

With catalog management and product management services, B2B players can simplify these processes. By letting professionals handle catalog creation and product management, stakeholders can focus on building tangible partnerships.

Catalog Management: A catalog management generally includes of 3-4 stages that are crucial to ensure:

Catalog management generally includes of following

Catalog CreationProfessionals leverage their experience and market understanding for creating categories and catalogs that work in the background to support on-site search engines. With the effective definition of categories, organizations. The step also involves the identification of varied elements that will go on the product page.

Catalog Writing: Professionals writer use their understanding of the industry and optimization norms to write effective descriptions, which assists users with improved decision-making and also allows search engines to sync the products effectively.

Catalog Quality Checks: A set of checks are implemented to ensure that the catalog is in sync with the international guidelines and general rules of search engine optimization. It is in this process, where fake products are identified and removed from the platform.

Catalog Enrichment: Often products undergo improvement or better versions are released. Online platforms use attribute values for labeling products. These attribute values are leverage for creating theme-based buckets like “products under $10” and “recommendations for you”. Catalog enrichment is the process where all products are updated with relevant attribute values to offer an improved customer experience.

4. Progressive Web Apps to Grow Popular

Today, B2C e-commerce players have teams to build iOS and Android apps to offer a distinct experience to every user. These applications allow

The apps are revolutionary because they allow both users as well as service providers to gain a lot. It can be accessed anywhere, anytime, and offers an amazing personalized experience. The cost of maintaining iOS and Android apps for segmented users and continuously updating them is costing e-commerce players a bomb.

The new concept of Progressive Web Apps, where the desktop page of a site can be saved as a shortcut on the home screen is gaining popularity. This can be synced with both Android as well as iOS devices with great ease and works as effectively as a mobile application.

Customers can continue using it as an app, create an account, order products and seek support too. Similarly, e-commerce players will be able to offer a personalized experience, push specific deals and remind users about what they are missing in the cart.

5. Futuristic Payment Options

B2C players have completely changed the way customers spend money online. Here’s a list of highlights:

  1. E-commerce players are offering an in-built Pay Later option
  2. Players have tied up with banks to release platform-specific credit cards
  3. No Cost EMI on almost everything
  4. Loyalty Programs that offer cash rewards
  5. Affiliate programs that pay in redeemable credits
  6. Subscription-based payment option
  7. Transaction facility enabling online ticket booking & recharges

Now that users have accessed these services on B2C platforms, they will be expecting something very similar from B2B players. The upcoming marketplaces especially from the B2B industry will have to devise a paradigm to support the varied customer requirements.

Line of Credit: Unlike B2C, which is retail, B2B players deal in bulk orders and only a handful of customers pay in full or pays advance. These markets work differently. Often customers pick up products worth a year and pay for them on monthly basis in segments.

B2B customers will want an extended line of credit and organizations will need to abide by it to ensure a long-term partnership. E-commerce players will have to collaborate with leading Fintech players to facilitate such offerings.

Secure Payment Infrastructure: In contemporary times SSL and PCI DSS are the two most important requirements when receiving payments online. One thing B2B players will need to pay attention to is the level of PCI DSS they are complying with. Since it is a transaction between two organizations, the amount is going to be huge or the frequency can be large. With the right PCI Level, organizations can ensure that all transactions are safe and sound.

Best Practices for B2B E-commerce Players 

Almost 3 decades ago, when Amazon started, it was only selling books. It was easier to sell books because people didn’t come back asking for a replacement or a newer version. In contemporary times, where people return products because it looks different life and because they received a fake product, B2B players need to be ready.

B2B e-commerce players must adopt B2C trends from the beginning and cut short their road to success. Here’s a list of best practices every B2B E-commerce player should follow:

1. Become Customer-Centric

Millennials are used to being treated with priority. CX lessons from Amazon will help B2B players carve an experience that is top-notch from day one.

2. Focus on Personalized Experience

The best way to impart a quality personalized experience is through accurate product recommendations. Amazon is driving 29% of its revenue just by recommending accurate products. While product recommendation will work differently for B2B players but tabs titled “bestseller in this category”, “similar products” can work equally well on B2B platforms too.

3. Seller Management

A huge percentage of sellers are stopping to sell online and moving towards drop shipping because they are not being prioritized on marketplaces. Policies like “instant refund”, “no question asked to return” are putting sellers through a tough time. E-commerce players need to develop a balance between customers and sellers. B2B players can start with an effective seller management practice and rely on proven methods of improving seller performance to gain a lot without affecting sellers’ earning potential.

Final Thoughts on B2B E-commerce Trends

The evolving customers are coaxing businesses from around the world to change. B2B players are finally falling in line. While organizations are gearing up to offer the best possible experience, but it is tough to do it on their own. The E-commerce industry has moved from multi-channel to omnichannel stage and reliance on a hybrid model, where all channels work separately and in sync too, organizations need additional support.

With outsourcing services, e-commerce players can ensure that they can achieve their targets of customer acquisition, lead generation, seller onboarding, and catalog requirements with great ease.

The post Top B2B E-commerce Trends & Best Practices for 2021 appeared first on MattsenKumar.

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