More and more B2B buyers are turning to digital channels to support their purchasing. Research by McKinsey found that globally all B2B customers prefer omnichannel capabilities, regardless of industry, country, size, or customer relationship stage. This e-commerce B2B trend certainly appears to be here for the long-term.
Coupled with this is the growth of B2B marketplaces. According to numbers shared by Digital Commerce 360, there are more than three times as many B2B marketplaces today as there was in 2019. McKinsey also found that 72% of companies that have built their own marketplace saw market-share growth over the past two years, compared to 42% of companies that haven’t built a marketplace.
But what else changed B2B retail in 2022?
Here are five B2B commerce trends that you may have missed.
1. B2B Is Becoming More Customer-Centric
It’s impossible for B2B businesses to ignore the impact that consumer retail has on customer expectations. The experiences that B2B customers have outside of their work lives are changing the way they view B2B purchasing, and B2B businesses are responding by becoming more customer-centric. This e-commerce B2B trend highlights the importance of omnichannel customer service, making sure your company is ready to respond to customers through any medium they choose to communicate through.
Worryingly, Sana Commerce’s 2022 B2B Buyer Report notes that 50% of B2B e-commerce sites do not fully meet the expectations of B2B consumers. What’s more, 94% of B2B buyers said they have faced customer experience challenges online.
So how are B2B commerce businesses tackling this?
Catering wholesaler Catering24.co.uk operates in the kind of customer-centric way you would expect of a B2C business but for B2B customers. This includes longer opening hours (7 am-11 pm), making deliveries six days a week, and offering next-day delivery to orders made before 7 pm.
Screwfix, which sells tools, hardware, and accessories, primarily focuses on the trade industry but also has some consumer business. It is known for its customer-focused experience, particularly its click-and-collect offering which often has products ready to pick up just minutes after the order is placed online.
The ease of finding products and ordering them online with Screwfix is a major draw for its B2B buyers. Research by Intershop revealed that at least 32% of B2B buyers say finding products is their biggest issue online.
Screwfix is not the only company focusing on improving the working lives of tradespeople though. TradeKart and Snap It are on-demand rapid delivery platforms that enable tradespeople to order products from local merchants and have them delivered quickly.
Snap It reports that tradespeople lose two hours a day on average on supply runs. By using a platform like Snap It or TradeKart, they can save time and money by having what they need brought directly to the place they are working.
It’s these kinds of experiences that are raising expectations for B2B customers. We expect to see more B2B commerce businesses following suit in 2023. How this e-commerce B2B trend affects your business may vary, but the key takeaway is that businesses must be flexible in responding to customer inquiries and needs.