The study results suggest conclusions about the development of buyer behavior and trends – and thus enable early adjustments to one’s own e-commerce strategy.
A current study by Sana Commerce shows clear trends and developments in B2B e-commerce in an evaluation carried out by experts. When it was first published in October last year, the study clearly showed that e-commerce companies in the B2B sector have catching-up potential in terms of their offers and should place a stronger focus on the number of order errors and strengthening the relationship between suppliers and customers . Based on this, an additional evaluation of the study now focuses primarily on the trends to be expected for 2022. These trends are supported by developments that can already be understood by many companies today.
“B2B e-commerce is currently undergoing an unprecedented upheaval,” explains Melanie Volkmann, Managing Director of Sana Commerce in Germany. “Where previously sales played a decisive role with regard to direct customer contact, the focus is now increasingly on complex systems that will have a significant impact on retail in the coming months. Above all, the growing importance of e-commerce in the B2B sector, extensive analysis functions within the digital marketplaces and personalized prices should be mentioned, which should be the focus of decision-makers and those responsible in particular in the future”.
The importance of e-commerce for B2B companies is increasing
While the importance of e-commerce in the B2C sector has become an integral part of the business world for years, sophisticated B2B e-commerce has long been the exception. As part of the study by Sana Commerce and an additional expert analysis of the results, it is now becoming increasingly clear that the importance of online trading is also increasing in the B2B sector – and will continue to grow in 2022.
This can initially be traced back to two phenomena, as Melanie Volkmann explains: “Professional buyers know the advantages of large e-commerce providers from their private experience as customers. These expectations are increasingly being transferred to the professional environment – and accordingly ensure a different approach to conventional solutions. In addition, younger generations – especially millennials – are also taking on the role of buyers. They, in turn, have grown up with the advantages and possibilities of online shopping and are therefore also distancing themselves from traditional sales channels.”
Due to the changing expectations of buyers, topics such as corporate social responsibility and sustainability are increasingly becoming the focus of the new target groups. So while e-commerce is becoming increasingly important for the B2B sector, companies must also ensure that their own set of values matches customer expectations.
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Customer journey analysis becomes a central tool for customer satisfaction
Another finding of the experts at Sana Commerce is the increasing relevance of analysis functions within e-commerce in 2022. Analysis tools are becoming increasingly important in order to improve the customer shopping experience, optimize supply chain management and conduct targeted marketing. These analyzes are based on the data from the company’s own e-commerce solution. The fact that, according to the study by Sana Commerce, only 37 percent of companies from the B2B sector are currently implementing this trend is a clear indication that there is still considerable potential for expansion here.
“The advantages of modern analysis functions for e-commerce are obvious,” explains Melanie Volkmann. “Problems within the customer journey can be better identified and resolved on the basis of data analysis. This in turn provides the basis for B2B companies to reduce the number of abandoned transactions and thereby increase overall sales. In addition, the most valuable marketing channels can be determined and important budget decisions made on the basis of the findings from these analyses.”
Personalization of the B2B segment
While the analysis of data gives companies the opportunity to optimize their e-commerce, data analysis is also a prerequisite for a tailored offer and contextual pricing. In the B2B sector in particular, the traditionalists among the buyers are used to close customer relationships and thus personal price determinations. Since e-commerce solutions also require a rethink here, companies will reposition themselves in the future and take advantage of the possibilities of modern solutions. On the one hand, this includes the precise use of connected ERP and production data. On the other hand, existing supply chain bottlenecks and a diversification of payment modalities must be taken into account.
Melanie Volkmann sees the solution here in intelligent e-commerce products that offer the opportunity to combine all relevant information and thus to react to short-term challenges or special customer requests. “Personalized pricing is not new within industry and manufacturing. Successful and far-sighted digitization measures can be taken here using solutions that display product availability on the one hand and give customers the customary personalized experience from the pre-e-commerce era on the other. In addition, the constantly increasing differentiation of means of payment and ongoing imponderables due to global delivery bottlenecks are also taken care of with the same approaches. This multitude of developments makes the personalization of the B2B segment one of the top trends for 2022.”
B2B sector faces comprehensive challenges
For the managing director of Sana Commerce, it is also clear that digitization and modern e-commerce solutions represent more than just short-term trends.
“As our study shows, many companies still have some catching up to do when it comes to their B2B e-commerce capacities,” sums up Melanie Volkmann. “The current trends also show that this potential – used sensibly and based on trends – can ensure long-term business success and at the same time ensure the future viability of the industry.”
The full study can be found here.