For years, B2B commerce has worked in fundamentally different ways than B2C commerce. Each required different strategies and technologies from the other. They required different expertise and different marketing. But rising popularity and prioritization of eCommerce is changing all of that. B2B eCommerce is evolving and changing, developing functionalities that mirror and learn from the B2C side of things.
The B2B eCommerce market is about to hit the $1 Trillion mark in the U.S.A. alone. It is a huge part of the global economy. And B2B CEOs are finding themselves more and more willing to prioritize B2B eCommerce capability. In fact, by 2019 it is expected that even B2C retailers will not spend as much on eCommerce as B2B companies.
This change is partially due to evolving expectations among B2B buyers. The average age of a B2B buyer/researcher is now under 35 years old. This new, younger workforce of B2B buyers is tech savvy and mobile-focused, demanding constant optimization from B2B eCommerce software and interfaces. As such, the industry is seeing eCommerce platform vendors develop their B2B business solutions with B2C functionality – things like volume pricing and smooth, B2C-like purchasing.
B2B sellers are also evolving their product discovery strategies, shifting them online as B2B buyers are simultaneously becoming more likely to research and buy online. In 2017, 56% of B2B buyers did half or more of their business purchases online. Much like the B2C and retail eCommerce sectors have been transitioning to digital-first discovery for the past fifteen years or so, B2B sellers are finding that buyer-centered, digital discovery and ordering are the keys to a successful eCommerce strategy. Older methods of product discovery (print catalogs, mailings, etc.) are being discarded for digital methods that garner better results in the eCommerce age.
The outlook? The B2B eCommerce market isn’t likely to get smaller anytime soon. In fact, it is only going to grow. And as it does, it learns lessons from the B2C eCommerce market about prioritizing the buyer and making buying/ordering interfaces smooth and efficient. This change is good for everyone, and makes the B2B sector more engaging, more creative, and – ultimately – more profitable.