The B2B ecommerce market is growing rapidly. According to recent statistics, B2B ecommerce is expected to reach $3 trillion and account for 17 percent of all B2B sales in the US by 2027.
What is B2B ecommerce you ask? Business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce is the sale of products or services from one business to another via online transactions.
Put another way, B2B ecommerce is a form of digital selling between businesses—for example, a communications wholesaler and a telecom service provider. Purchases are typically based on business needs and involve transactions of varying sizes.
This article is an introduction to B2B ecommerce, including a discussion of its many advantages and industry leading trends.
How does B2B ecommerce differ from B2C e-commerce?
B2C ecommerce is short for business-to-consumer electronic commerce. As the name suggests, B2C ecommerce is the sale of goods and services from a business directly to individual consumers.
In a B2C transaction, the consumer is the end user of the product or service. On the other hand, B2B transactions typically involve a business buying in bulk from a wholesaler to supply their inventory.
In 2021, the global B2B ecommerce market was valued over five times that of the B2C market, totaling a whopping $17.9 trillion and it continues to grow.
Types of B2B Ecommerce
B2B service providers typically sell consulting, technology, and software solutions to other businesses. For example, 10Duke is a B2B service provider that sells software licensing and identity and access management solutions that connect businesses to their potential customers to drive engagement and revenue.
B2B wholesalers sell products to businesses in bulk at a discount. Those businesses then sell the products at retail value to individual consumers. B2B wholesalers often use digital ecommerce platforms to market and sell their products to provide a seamless user experience.
B2B2C ecommerce cuts out the middleman between a B2B and B2C transaction deal. Instead, B2B and B2C businesses form a partnership and use virtual storefronts or ecommerce platforms to sell manufactured products directly to end users.
Manufacturers make finished products on a large scale by using raw materials, manual labor, and industrial machinery. In a B2B ecommerce model, the finished products are marketed to wholesalers, suppliers, or other manufacturers.
When a manufacturer finishes a product, there are a couple of options:
- The manufacturer can sell the product directly to the end customer; or
- They can partner with a distributor who will manage orders, packaging, and marketing for the product.
In a B2B ecommerce model, the distribution logistics are worked out online via an ecommerce platform.
Advantages of B2B e-commerce
Reach more buyers
B2B ecommerce platforms give businesses a competitive edge by providing access to buyers who are currently in the market to purchase goods and services. B2B ecommerce platforms also help B2B companies maintain engagement with previous customers, by building relationships that increase the likelihood for repeat purchases in the future.
By making your products and services accessible to buyers on a B2B ecommerce platform, you can expect to see an increase in sales. Digital selling platforms have a number of built-in features that make purchasing goods and services easier than ever before. By providing a hassle-free, customer-centric experience, B2B ecommerce platforms help businesses build brand loyalty and encourage recurring sales interactions.
B2B ecommerce platforms save businesses time and money by providing features such as streamlined shipping procedures, automated order processing, self-service buying, and inventory management systems.
B2B ecommerce platforms enable businesses to target specific buyers and markets, which significantly increases their visibility.
Most B2B ecommerce platforms provide users with detailed analytics of their business operations. As a result, businesses can more easily identify areas where they are weak, track sales progress, and improve their operational decision-making.
Better User Experience
Businesses typically close more deals using B2B ecommerce platforms because of the sophisticated user experience they provide. Rep-assisted selling and customer service features do a great job of educating potential customers. Ultimately, customers that make informed decisions are happier with their purchase in the long run and more likely to become recurring, loyal customers.
The digital nature of B2B ecommerce platforms means businesses can easily market their products and services on multiple channels without a significant increase in overhead cost. As a result, operational efficiency is improved and businesses experience faster growth.
The Importance of B2B eCommerce
Today’s increased demand for easily accessible digital goods behooves B2B businesses to invest in digital platforms. B2B buyers want a B2C-like experience in their purchasing journey, including benefits like a quicker checkout process, fast delivery, easy and automatic repeat orders, and improved order tracking abilities.
Leading Trends in B2B eCommerce
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
B2B businesses are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to gain a competitive edge over their competition. Augmented reality and virtual reality have become especially popular. According to the latest projections, 25 percent of businesses will launch augmented reality features and another 70 percent will experiment with it.
Chatbots are another AI feature growing in popularity within the B2B ecommerce industry. They offer 24/7 rep-assisted selling and an improved user experience. Chatbots are one of the most cost-effective ways B2B businesses can improve their customer service without paying additional staff.
B2B businesses can provide more flexible payment options through the use of headless commerce. Headless commerce allows a B2B business’s virtual store to be decoupled from the front-end presentation layer.
Mobile wallets are on the rise. Services like Amazon Pay and Apple Pay now make up 26 percent of all B2B ecommerce transactions.
One-Click High-Ticket Transactions
The B2B industry has become especially interested in one-click high-ticket transactions. High-ticket items are highly priced goods and services that offer buyers a high value in return.
B2B ecommerce represents the future of selling goods and services to other businesses online. Using ecommerce platforms, B2B enterprises can customize their marketing, target specific buyers, and ultimately increase their sales revenue.
To make the most out of a B2B ecommerce strategy, businesses should focus on implementing today’s current trends into their operations, including artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, chatbots, mobile wallets, and one-click high-ticket transactions. To further optimize your B2B ecommerce journey and ensure you're not leaving any opportunities on the table, check out our comprehensive guide: '4 Reasons Your Site Isn't Generating Sales.'