With the global B2C eCommerce sales growing exponentially in the last decade, the B2B industry has also followed suit. Not only is the B2B market gradually increasing its online presence, but it is also doing so by mirroring some key B2C eCommerce strategies. 73% of B2B executives agree that customer expectations for personalized experiences and end-to-end solutions are "significantly higher than they were just a few years ago" Back in 2014, Gartner predicted that more than 70% of B2B companies would offer some form of personalization on their website by 2018. By 2019, 77% of companies believe personalization should be a bigger priority for their organization than it previously had been. B2B companies have begun personalizing their customers’ online experiences — but, admittedly, have room to grow.
B2B commerce will continue to undergo a major transformation in 2021 as companies adopt the latest technologies to find new customers, improve their supply-chain efficiencies, and provide a more personalized user experience to their clientele. B2B marketplaces and progressive web apps are among the technologies that will see greater business adoption next year, according to several industry experts. They also predict that B2B commerce will look a lot more like business-to-consumer (B2C) commerce with improvements to the user experience and a greater emphasis on direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales.
The adoption of digital commerce strategies has become even more urgent amid the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic; whose effects are likely to last into 2021 and beyond. The health crisis not only exposed vulnerabilities in the global supply chain, but it also forced many companies to implement safety measures like contactless fulfilment to protect workers and customers alike. The disruptions are a major catalyst for digital B2B commerce, with many businesses setting the stage for longer-term growth as the global economy rebounds from the pandemic. While 53 percent of B2B decision makers said in July that they expected a revenue decline in the following year, 86 percent planned to boost their spending on digital sales channels, according to a survey by research and advisory firm Gartner. "As we recover, everyone’s expectations are that digital works," says Mackenzie Johnson, marketing and partnership manager at BORN Group, a digital marketing agency in New York. "Going into 2021, the customer experience has to be excellent." "Almost all millennials are comfortable buying online, whether it's Walmart, Amazon, or Alibaba, because of the selection," says Thomas Gaydos, chief marketing officer and marketing practice lead at McFadyen Digital. "Now that they’re in positions of power to make purchase decisions at work, they tend to prefer that same model, but they're not really seeing that out there a lot right now." As B2B commerce increasingly resembles B2C commerce, businesses that typically sell to middlemen like distributors and retailers have an opportunity to reach past them and connect directly to consumers. While direct-to-consumer (DTC) selling heightens the possibility of greater channel conflict, it can be managed in a way that works for companies throughout the supply chain.