It was a great year for B2B e-commerce, and a Frost & Sullivan report claims that the U.S., along with China, will be the largest B2B e-commerce market by 2020, with sales reaching $1.2 billion that year. With an industry as booming as B2B e-commerce, it’s important to stay ahead of the pack and follow the key trends that could play a role in the coming years. With 2016 right around the corner, here are five trends to keep an eye on in the New Year.
- Technology investments are set to grow – In 2016, wholesalers will embrace B2B e-commerce much more than retailers. According to Forrester, wholesalers and manufacturers will top retailers in e-commerce technology investments in just three years and will account for 30 percent of total spending, a 10 percent increase on the total spending in 2013. The timing of this coincides with B2B companies realizing that they need to do a better job at managing their assets.
- M-commerce is becoming a fast-growing platform – M-commerce is already a player in B2B e-commerce, but 2016 could be the year it takes off. According to Forrester, 52 percent of B2B buyers research products from their smartphones. This will only increase in the coming year, and it will also lead to growth in smartphone use during the purchasing phase. If most of the research is being done on a mobile device, the purchase decisions will be driven through a mobile device as well.
- The customer experience makes all the difference – The customer experience has long been a primary focus for retailers selling to consumers. They understand that creating a positive customer experience plays a role in buying. Today, B2B buyers are demanding this same user-friendly experience. As a result, B2B companies understand that this experience can play a key role in differentiation and profitability. When it comes to B2B e-commerce, buyers will want specific merchandising guidelines along with high-res product images, rich content and product specifications. Being specific and providing all the details will help buyers feel at ease with their purchasing decisions.
- A choice of e-commerce models provides more opportunities – Marketplace and Direct are the two main models in B2B e-commerce. A company following the Direct model sets up its own store for customers to make direct purchases. A company that supports the Marketplace model will sell its products using a platform such as Kinnek, a website that helps small business owners research their purchases and connect with the most relevant supplier. This model is much more attractive for manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors, and it also helps both sellers and buyers take their first steps into the e-commerce industry. However, 2016 will see a continued rise of the Marketplace model, which is already growing faster.
- Contactless payments and mobile wallets are on the rise – Mobile wallets are poised to become the next big thing when it comes to B2B e-commerce, but security questions have slowed this from becoming a reality. If companies are able to address security concerns, buyers will be more apt to use mobile wallets.
B2B e-commerce is growing fast, so to succeed, it is important to capitalize on the ever-changing landscape. Keeping an eye on these trends and embracing these changes will be the key to success in the New Year.
Suchit Bachalli is the President of Unilog