B2B e-commerce has grown rapidly in the past few years, especially the last year, even as the pandemic raged. More businesses have moved to the cloud, and are operating their business activities online more than ever before. It looks like every brick-and-mortar store has an online storefront.
There’s no denying that the world of business-to-business sales is quickly changing in 2021. But when it comes to online presence, B2B pales in comparison to B2C, despite its spectacular growth. It’s for this reason that B2B e-commerce is shifting in marketing trends, and 2021 seems to be a turning point.
Here are some changes expected in 2021 and beyond:
1. Data security and privacy
High-profile data breaches have dominated the news in the recent past, the latest being a hack on Microsoft Exchange Server software. Buyers now want to be sure they can trust you with their personal information before they can think about purchasing anything from your online store.
B2Bs are working to secure their data systems against any form of cyber threats. Some steps they are taking in 2021 to enhance the privacy and security of data include the following:
- Switching to HTTPS website certificate
- Removing any personal information not needed from their sites
- Assigning a Data Protection Officer to ensure compliance with GDPR regulations.
2. Focus on m-commerce
It’s no secret that more people are accessing the internet from their mobile devices, a factor that B2B e-commerce is likely to focus its attention to in the second half of 2021. Your B2B business can tap into this trend by enhancing your website for the mobile experience. It’s much easier to create a separate mobile online sales system, than improving your old site for mobile use.
3. Real-time customer service
The average customer response time is shockingly over 12 hours, and some B2Bs take even weeks to respond to a customer’s inquiry. Your business is probably losing many would-be customers because of the painfully slow response times.
The second half of 2021 should see most businesses switching to real-time customer support services to plug this loophole. One way businesses will be doing this is by investing in instant messaging technology, such as the use of chatbots, and live 24/7 support team,
4. Greater shift to personalization
When it comes to digital marketing, many businesses will be turning to a personalized approach to marketing. The targeted audience will be wondering how you know their names, or how you know they bought a particular product. Businesses will be capturing data on clients and using it to drive targeted content, such as emails, to them.
5. Move to data-driven decision-making
Your B2B may not experience growth, coming out of the pandemic, without switching to data to make important decisions. Critical decisions, such as whether to increase production, should be informed by accurate data from the market.
You can expect the second half of 2021 to come with lots of attention on Big Data and Google Analytics. It would help you know what clients are looking for, how much time they spend on your website, and how far they go down your sales funnel. Such data will be important for the growth of your B2B in 2021 and beyond.
6. The shift to digital transformation
Internet-powered technologies are gradually taking over the e-commerce world. B2B e-commerce will be riding on this wave in 2021 and beyond, as they tap into these technologies to experience new growth. While many of these technologies are geared towards individuals, your B2B can harness them to improve your business process.
Shifting to digital transformation will help your business enhance processes such as:
- Sales – Use software such as CRM to track your leads and send them emails
- Accounting – Use AI to help you predict revenue and accurate forecasts, and compare historical performance.
- Marketing – Personalized your relationship with your leads and customers through email marketing.
- Human resources – Use apps such as WebEx Teams, or Skype, to manage your human resources.
Requirements B2B websites need to meet in 2021
Most of the trends in B2B e-commerce will hinge on website design and user experience. As is often the case, any new changes will likely become the best practices. Here are some critical requirements your B2B website will need to fulfill to move with the trends and become more profitable in 2021 and beyond:
Website designers will be looking to integrate micro-interactions into B2B websites to create a better user experience for web visitors. Micro-interactions include things such as subtle feedback when you hover or click your mouse on something on the page. You will need to redesign your website to include them to make it more interesting for web visitors.
2. Voice search
B2B e-commerce will see more integration of the voice search feature in their websites, as 2021 progresses. It follows the trend in the digital world today, where more people are using virtual assistants, such as Alexa and Siri, to browse the web. This means that your B2B website should add this feature to complement the traditional text search.
3. Use of chatbots
Chatbots have grown in popularity in the recent past, and all indications point to them becoming more useful for B2B and B2C businesses in 2021 and beyond. Chatbots can execute simple customer requests and personal shopping but are set to become more intelligent and answer more complex queries. You should hop onto this trend to integrate chatbots into your B2B website to provide quick answers to common queries.
4. Improved page load
Most web visitors are likely to drop your page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. You must streamline your website to ensure it loads faster, else, you will lose potential customers to your competition. The best web practices for 2021 will be lighter graphics and smaller file sizes to speed page loading.
The world of B2B e-commerce sales is becoming more competitive, and the only way to survive is to grow. Tap into these trends to help your business grow by attracting more customers.