What Millennials Mean to the Future of B2B e-commerce

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the future of B2B e-commerce

Ecommerce is not just for direct-to-consumer companies. The movement to digital has become a significant initiative for B2B companies as well.

In fact, Forrester Research estimates that B2B ecommerce transactions will hit $1.8 trillion by 2023. That figure will represent about 17 percent of all B2B sales. While some B2B companies have been slow to adopt, there are many reasons why they need to shift their focus to ecommerce.

Inherently, there are differences between B2B commerce and B2C commerce.

Personal purchases are driven by different motivations than enterprise purchases. With B2C, a brand is typically trying to connect with an individual, whereas with B2B there may be many decision makers. Although in the end, companies are still selling to people, and the challenges that an individual wants to solve are different than those of a business.

The B2B Buyer Is Evolving

The evolution is mostly thanks to the fact that more buyers are now millennials, who are considered digital natives. A study by Merit found that 73 percent of 20- to 35-year-olds are involved in purchasing products or services for their company.

These millennials turn to research first to begin their buyer’s journey. According to Forrester Research 74 percent of all B2B buyers research at least half of their purchase online. They have expectations that information will be available, informational, and engaging.

With a changing buyer comes new opportunities.

B2B Ecommerce Trends

So, how does a B2B company compete and grab the attention of its target buyers? They need to embrace a new vision for ecommerce that includes considering these trends.

Upgrade B2B Ecommerce Platforms

If an ecommerce platform has been in use for a while, it is probably time for an upgrade. The customer experience is extremely vital in the ecommerce sales process. Businesses need to invest in a platform that is easy to use, attractive, and offers features, like allowing the customer to create an account and manage orders.

Display Product Information in an Interactive Way

Many B2B companies still treat ecommerce in the same way they did when they simply sent out catalogs. Buyers crave more interactive experiences. An emerging strategy is to use a service that integrates with backend systems so information is organized and easy to access. This lets buyers dive deeper into the specifications or details of product or service in a seamless manner.

Embrace Mobile Ecommerce

It can be a big mistake to think that every B2B buyer is only making purchases on a desktop. Google data notes that about 80 percent of B2B buyers use mobile at work and 50 percent of B2B queries are made on smartphones. Having a responsive ecommerce site is not always enough. Businesses need to approach mobile ecommerce in the same way that consumer brands do. This includes simplifying the process for purchasing and easy navigation. This experience has to be just as positive as the one on a desktop.

Many B2B brands are also creating apps for their buyers. An app is almost an expectation, especially for digital natives, and can improve efficiency, as buyers have all the information, they need within the app. Mobile apps can also lift repeat purchases and loyally. It can also help improve cart abandonment with optimized checkouts to reduce the information that needs to be completed, especially if they are already customers.

The future of B2B ecommerce is full of possibility. It’s time to leverage this channel and connect with buyers in a manner that they expect and desire.

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