As 2021 ends, it’s time to look at the B2B e-commerce trends your business needs to pay attention to in order to remain competitive and drive online sales in 2022. Despite the ongoing public health battle over the last two years, the main force that’s driving change in all businesses is still COVID-19.
While we could have never foreseen the longtail implications of this shift, they are making themselves apparent now. In this blog post, Arno Ham, Chief Product Officer at Sana Commerce discusses the top emerging trends in B2B e-commerce which are a mix of tech, consumer and business developments.
1. The rise of business consumers
The overarching trend that is affecting all B2B businesses is how buyers are changing. B2B buyers are increasingly looking more like B2C consumers. After all, these buyers are buying from B2C online retailers in their free time, and they’ve been doing this for years. Professional buyers are now looking for easier and more seamless experiences when buying on the job.
Not only are professional buyers displaying more B2C tendencies, but studies also show that by 2025 75% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials. The increase of digitally minded millennials in professional buying roles has changed the course of the traditional B2B buying experience. New generations entering the B2B space with buying power is a key factor in many of the B2B e-commerce trends to follow on this list.
2. Surging customer journey analytics
A huge part of this B2C-like catering comes from analytics on customer experience. Customer journey analytics is the science of analyzing customer behavior across multiple touchpoints and then, over time, measuring the impact of customer behavior on business outcomes. Discover the benefits of investing in customer journey analytics below.
Improved data & analytics
Being able to collect and learn from online data is one of the biggest advantages of B2B e-commerce. Most importantly though, with the help of e-commerce analytics, you can improve the way your web store works for your customers.
Capturing better data through e-commerce analytics can:
- Improve your overall customer experience
- Help enhance supply chain management
- Enable your B2B business to create personalized content and marketing
- Identify common issues that your customers encounter during checkout
- Reduce the number of abandoned transactions and increase your sales
- Understand what your most valuable marketing channels are
- Make key decisions about where your budget can be spent most effectively
Tools like Sana Commerce Insights (SCI) allow you to get a holistic overview of all your commercial data. SCI is unique as it’s the only analytics tool to combine your ERP, web store and analytics data.
Customer data platform
Customer data platforms (commonly known as CDPs) are used to combine and integrate all customer data into one single platform. CDP tools give your marketing team crucial data to successfully run campaigns.
A CDP collects data from multiple tools to create a full profile of your customers and how they interact with your content. For example, your CDP can collect data from touchpoints like Facebook, LinkedIn, your website, email and any other place your customers might interact with your brand. The CDP then consolidates all the collected data into one unified customer profile. This data can help your marketing efforts and it can also help you identify what you need to do to retain customers. A CDP can even be used by customer service teams to cater their support to each customer.
37% of B2B companies are already using advanced campaign measurement and analytics tools. Are you one of them?
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3. Growing B2B pricing personalization
In 2021, most B2B e-commerce transactions involve software solutions that automate payments, making it more convenient for both parties. It’s no wonder why this is such a huge e-commerce trend heading into 2022.
Having a great selection of payment options is vital to B2B e-commerce. The most important choices to offer are:
- Credit cards
- Purchase orders
- Mobile wallets
With mobile wallets like Amazon Pay and Apple Pay on the rise, we also see B2B e-commerce channels adopting experimentation techniques and omnichannel sales approaches.
New payment options are needed
Personalization is everywhere in B2B, even in smaller customized catalogs and quick reordering based on order history. Personalized marketing makes the buying experience fast and efficient. It changes your customers’ perception of their shopping experience and ultimately it shifts the way they purchase.
An easy payment system does more than just enable your B2B e-commerce store to accept any card or bank payments — it also improves internal processes and customer experience. When looking for faster online order-to-cash processes, be sure to consider whether your preferred payment provider offers full-service payment processing solutions.
4. Contextualized real-time pricing
In an environment where inflation is causing businesses to make tough decisions competitive pricing has never been more top of mind. Contextualized real-time pricing gives suppliers the power to manage and adjust prices. It also enables competitive price matching for customers in real-time, across all channels. This allows you to be more competitive in terms of pricing and enables customer loyalty.
We foresee contextualized real-time pricing to be a game-changer in the coming years. It allows B2B companies to offer consistent and personalized prices to customers. But to be able to do so, companies need to understand customer behavior through the entire buying journey. The surge in adoption of mobile payments, combined with retailer mobile apps also supports our forecast that the adoption of real-time in-store pricing will go mainstream in 2022. Therefore, this trend is best combined with e-commerce analytics, and the overall B2B e-commerce trend of personalization.
5. Faster and easier order fulfillment
Digital transformation, pared with COVID-19, has accelerated online growth and B2B e-commerce trends. E-commerce has experienced 10 years’ growth in just the past 3 months. This rapid acceleration has caused surges in orders, disruptions in supply chains, changes in customer behavior and more.
The race to shorten click-to-customer cycle time is arguably the single greatest influence on the shape of future omnichannel supply chains. The bar continues to rise for B2B and direct-to-consumer brands. In 2021 and beyond, customers — private consumers and professional buyers alike — expect speed and quicker delivery. B2B companies need to adjust accordingly and create a faster fulfillment network. A recent study by McKinsey showed that five of the top nine factors driving customer value in omnichannel retail are all related to logistics.
Improve your omnichannel fulfillment strategy in 2022 by removing friction from parts of the process that matter most to your customers. Here’s a glimpse into what customers care about when it comes to fulfillment.
6. Prolonged resource shortages
Supply chain disruption will continue into at least the third quarter of 2022. Beyond that, money that has been injected into economies has caused a rise in inflation. Meaning? You can expect to pay more in 2022 for the same item you paid less for in 2019. Forrester recently predicted that “shortage” will be the name of the game in 2022.
Personnel shortages have also been another notable resource that has been greatly reduced in 2021 and will continue to impact employers well into 2022. This is a direct result of the recent “Great Resignation.”
Typically, the U.S. economy averages only 300,000 added jobs each month. According to economists, in the past 12 months it’s been about 450,000 jobs on average. This indicates a major decline in labor force participation. The labor shortage isn’t only affecting the U.S, either. It’s a global problem that will impact B2B companies further in 2022.
These shortages in both goods and labor will have a ripple effect. You’ll see it everywhere from grocery store shelves to large shipping fees and increased tariffs. It’s hard to solve these complex issues, but e-commerce can make it easier to stay flexible and offer your customers preferred pricing and priority.
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Reshoring is when a company returns production or manufacturing of goods back to the company’s home country. It is the opposite of offshoring, which is when a company starts manufacturing and producing goods overseas to reduce costs.
Due to the breakdown in the global supply chain, companies are reassessing where they source their goods. With domestic factories and producers, businesses have more control and are less susceptible to external factors, such as the global supply chain collapse. COVID-19 exposed the weaknesses within globalizing logistics and manufacturing.
By bringing domestic production back into play, you have more reliable sourcing. However, it can affect pricing and labor costs, which is something to keep in mind.
8. Hybrid working is here to stay
Even though we are all adjusting to the new normal, COVID-19 has changed working habits for good. It has underlined the benefits of more flexible work and remote sales. This flexibility continues to be significant because of COVID-19 case spikes that are still taking place globally, particularly during colder months.
Suppliers need to prioritize omnichannel e-commerce so that they can create a seamless buying process whether it’s online or offline. This versatility will allow workers to stay safe and comfortable without impacting the company’s bottom line. It’s also important to note that researchers predict that by 2025, remote working will compete with office locations. Allowing employees to work from home will be the key to attracting talent in 2022 and beyond. It also saves your organization money: AT&T reported savings of $30 million a year in real estate alone from their working-from-home efforts.
9. Corporate and sustainability and social responsibility become crucial
As mentioned earlier, millennials already make up a large part of B2B buyers — and will continue to do so.
To gain the trust and loyalty of your current (and future) buyers, you must think about how to become more energy-efficient and climate-efficient as an e-commerce business. Focusing on your digital transformation helps by creating paperless processes and choosing more sustainable shipping options, which will be attractive options for your buyers.
Beyond that, it’s important to think about traditional processes your company may have that create waste and how you can adjust them to appeal to more climate-conscious buyers.
Being sustainable is only one side of the coin, your brand’s approach to social justice issues also matters to millennial buyers: 60% of consumers expect companies to speak up on important issues — even if they don’t agree with your company’s views.
B2B e-commerce trends 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018
Wondering what past e-commerce predictions looked like? Here’s a quick recap of some of the B2B e-commerce trends we discussed over the last 4 years:
- Digital-first commerce to cater to millennials who account for the majority of B2B buying decisions
- The spread of voice search
- Lightning-fast fulfillment through automated order management systems
- The growth of B2B online marketplaces
- Focus on conversion rate optimization
- The move to headless commerce
- The rise of progressive web apps (PWAs)
- API-driven B2B e-commerce
Learn more about the evolution of B2B e-commerce trends — from 2017 to 2022 — with our e-commerce trends timeline.
Discover more B2B e-commerce trends and stats
- Find out why Sana Commerce Cloud offers B2B companies a more flexible and future-facing solution than ever before.
- Get to know your customers: Download the 2022 B2B Buyer Report for stats and insights into the behavior, preferences and challenges of buyers, based on a survey of 1,250 B2B customers across the globe.
- Understand the business benefits of ERP-integrated e-commerce based on a survey of global B2B and B2C customers.
Do you know the new rules for B2B buying in 2022?
Read the latest research on how your B2B clients use online channels.