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The past few years have seen huge changes in the B2B eCommerce landscape. Not only has the sector faced ongoing challenges from supply chain disruption due to the COVID pandemic, but businesses everywhere have had to rapidly adjust to increased demands for eCommerce capability as both customer and supplier expectations have shifted.


Looking ahead to the rest of 2022, there are both new challenges and opportunities that businesses should be prepared for. Whether you’ve got an established B2B eCommerce website or are looking to launch or upgrade your platform in 2022, it’s a wise idea to consider these trends during your planning for the year ahead.

 

1. B2B eCommerce an investment priority

According to research from BusinessWire, the top investment priority for a majority of B2B organisations will be a move to eCommerce by 2023. This prioritisation has significant implications, including the emergence of new competitors online, and a renewed focus on eCommerce platform capability and integration.

With so many B2B organisations prioritising a move into eCommerce, existing B2B organisations will need to double down on efforts to differentiate their businesses in 2022 - from both new and established competition.

Businesses without a B2B eCommerce adoption plan will find themselves on the back foot as competitors who have gone online are suddenly able to eat into market share. A digital strategy formed in panic is far from ideal, but it’s where many B2B organisations will find themselves if they’ve not prepared their own eCommerce roadmap. 

 

2. Supply chain disruption set to continue

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the supply chain issues that have plagued virtually every industry for the past year or two look set to continue throughout 2022. In fact, some estimates even claim that supply chain difficulties could persist for at least another two years.

This means that one of the biggest challenges for B2B eCommerce in 2022 will be strengthening supply chains to bolster resilience and mitigate future supply issues. Businesses will need to ensure that flexibility and adaptability are built into their supply chains, not to mention the ability to accurately forecast and proactively handle supply issues as much as possible.

In 2022, data visibility, platform integration, and efficient inventory management systems will be critical if business are to spot supply issues and stock shortages early. Doing so will allow more time to find alternative suppliers where necessary. Well-integrated ERP and eCommerce platforms will also facilitate advance warning to online customers, improving the overall customer experience even despite stock disruptions.

B2B organisations with an accurate view of their supply chain will increasingly leverage their eCommerce platforms to capture customer demand, identify and offer stock alternatives, and provide visibility around order fulfilment.

 

3. Personalisation is essential

Personalisation has been a dominant trend in B2C eCommerce for several years, and it’s picking up pace in B2B as well. As B2C consumers become accustomed to personalised experiences when shopping online at home, they increasingly expect an equivalent, personalised experience when shopping a B2B site at work.

Data, in conjunction with strong platform capability, will again play a key role in the ability to deliver meaningful B2B eCommerce personalisation. Purchase and browsing histories can inform product recommendations, and other data such as a user's role and department can ensure tailored content is served as customers browse your eCommerce site.

Going a step further, contract and pricing data can be used to build entire personalised catalogues, building a customer experience with a truly bespoke feel. B2B personalisation will not be optional in 2022.

 

4. Mobile eCommerce expectations grow

With an increasing number of us working from home, and smartphones and tablets becoming ever more ingrained in our daily life, it follows that a growing proportion of B2B eCommerce is being carried out on portable screens. In fact, 70% of B2B search queries are made on mobile devices, as buyers increasingly research products and services on their smartphones. 

As B2B focus shifts from desktop to mobile experiences, B2B eCommerce sites will need to keep a mobile-first approach front of mind. At the bare minimum, platforms should offer a fully mobile-optimised web interface in order to promote a positive mobile user experience for purchasers.

Going beyond simple optimisation, digital marketing teams may look to expand their eCommerce offerings with a dedicated mobile app to further enhance the mobile customer experience. It will also become more common to leverage unique mobile-specific opportunities such as automated shipping estimates based on location data, or click-to-call links to streamline customer contact options.

 

5. Automation accelerates

One of the most exciting developments in recent years is the emergence of accessible, powerful AI and automation tools for B2B. Whilst the early adopters have long since incorporated automation into their processes, the rest of the world has taken notice and businesses must either follow suit or be left behind.

The business case for AI and automation is certainly compelling. Whether the goal is to increase efficiency, reduce costs, accelerate growth, improve service - or all of the above - automation can support B2B eCommerce operations and streamline processes in ways that quickly become indispensable.

According to Gartner, hyperautomation – the strategy of automating as many processes as is feasibly possible – is accelerating, especially after the economic instability of 2021. Although many businesses have cut overall spending, budgets for eCommerce, digital-first initiatives and transformation have generally increased. The new B2B mantra is “if it can be automated, it should be automated.”

Rather than completely overhauling entire departments or systems, businesses will look to automate repetitive processes that bog people down in manual tasks. For example, sales order entry automation tools can be surprisingly quick and easy to implement, with almost immediate benefits to the business.

 

In summary

The pace of change in B2B eCommerce has been gathering momentum, powered by global pandemics, economic uncertainty, and new technology. As 2022 shapes up to be a year of new opportunities and challenges, the above trends will be important to consider as your own B2B eCommerce strategy and planning unfolds.

Whilst ‘digital-first’ is fast becoming the default position among forward thinking organisations, businesses should assess trends in relation to their own unique position. Ensuring your business puts the customer experience first can be a simple (but valuable) guiding principle when deciding which B2B eCommerce trends are most important to you and your business.

 

To discuss your own B2B eCommerce strategy, we invite you to BOOK A CALL with us.


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