B2B brands are increasingly looking towards digital channels to boost sales
— a move driven by the current economic climate and the changing B2B buyer demographic.
According to the office of national statistics, UK e-commerce revenue in 2018 amounted to 688.4 billion GBP, a sharp increase on the year prior and according to Forrester, U.S. business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce transactions are expected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023. This would account for 17% of all B2B sales in the country.
B2B in the age of millennials
The thirty-somethings of today have been raised in the traditions of the sales pitch, the face-to-face meeting and hand-held relationship building.
Millennials, on the other hand, have blossomed in the world of today with technology and as many as 38% of them admit to buying the latest gadgets and expect the same ‘personalised experience’ when purchasing online. Today, 73% of millennials are involved in the buying process.
More millennials have college degrees and the debts that come with it and is partly responsible for this generations attitude towards spending and seeking transparency from brands online.
A digital attitude
Unsurprisingly, most B2B retailers (78%) have been selling online for at least 2-5 years, or longer.
Today’s B2B buyer conducts approximately 12 online searches before making a purchase from a specific brand. In response, 55% of B2B marketing budgets are directed toward digital efforts that help provide a more personalised buying experience.
In many markets in Europe, mobile commerce and mobile shoppers are taking precedence within e-commerce. In Great Britain, too, the share of smartphone users who shopped via mobile devices, especially smartphones, increased over the years. In parallel, the number of consumer who used mobile payment methods in their online transactions increased, with an expected growth of more than two million more users in 2019.
In the past, online selling for B2B merchants wasn’t a core part of their business and sales strategy.
Instead, sites were simply “portals” that were intended to replace customer service reps with online technology, or they served solely as catalogues (if the brands had sites at all).
Previously, any version of a B2B e-commerce site only served existing customers, allowing them to place reorders by using an established term account.
Now, B2B players want to acquire new customers and their e-commerce site is a great place for that. Online search tools enable new customers to research, find and place an order easier than ever before.
In fact, 74% of B2B buyers report researching at least half of their work purchases online.
With more B2B buyers going online to research and buy products, merchants must be where their customers are. Bringing in these new customers becomes a focal point of B2B online selling and the purpose of an e-commerce site.
The rise of smart pay
Just look to Amazon and other big marketplaces and mobile app brands to whiteness B2B retailers moving to full omni-channel sales approaches.
Credit cards still reign supreme for the online channel (94%), though checks, terms, and purchase orders remain vital for B2B buyers (51%, 53%, 50%, respectively).
On the rise are mobile wallets like Amazon Pay and Apple Pay (26%).
In the “other” category, third-party financing and ACH were the most commonly cited.
Overall, global retail ecommerce sales are expected to reach $4.9 trillion in 2021, which is a 265% increase from 2014.
Payment options and site UX remain the two most important factors for conversion on a B2B site, and reputation in the market remains important both in the awareness and the consideration phase.
Even in the business landscape we are moving with the times and consuming goods for our
businesses as we would for personal purchases.