The future of B2B commerce depends on the B2C customer (part 1)
The habits we build while interacting with new technologies as end customers determine the success of B2B companies.
Driven by the goal of achieving low prices and optimal margins, B2B companies frequently neglect the option of building an e-shop or postpone it for the moment when there will be enough money and time. But this seems to be changing. In the last year – year and a half. There is an increase of the number of enquiries we received in our office by manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers about transactional websites.
We told ourselves: ”After the great e-commerce interest in the B2C sector, it was about time for the hype to get on the B2B companies as well.” Still, online shops provide the same benefits, no matter whether the purchaser is a business or an end customer – they automate sale processes, reduce costs, eliminate errors in order processing, remove the 9:00-18:00 barrier, and so on.
However, our team was not the only one to notice this trend. Nor it is a country-specific. It is global, and besides the in-company desire for process optimization and profit maximization, many analysts consider millennials to be the major factor, which will make more and more B2B companies to invest in e-commerce platforms.
Who are the millennials and why are they leading the development of e-commerce in B2B?
Millennials or Generation Y are terms describing people born in the beginning of the 80s to the mid-90s of the past century. Their maturity coincided with the boom of the Internet and the birth of Google, and therefore they are accustomed to doing everything online. Nowadays, these people are at the age of 20-36 years, they have actively entered the business world, what’s more – some of them have established their own companies, while others have taken over management positions.
According to Google data in 2015, almost half of the B2B shoppers were millennials, which is two times more than the result for 2012.
Why do they like to shop online?
Generation Y-ers have grown up in front of the monitors of their home computers, so they are capable of quickly finding online goods and services they need. Besides, they do it in a convenient time for them, compare characteristics, price ranges, availability, and delivery options. Being accustomed to getting to information and taking decisions themselves, they contact trade representatives only when they need help. Doing so they expect quick response and personalized service. They are willing to pay more if they get convenience and feel special. This behavior is a well-built habit, which millennials get into their new role of decisions makers.
What does this tell us about the future of B2B commerce?
Despite the differences in selling to businesses and to end customers, the model used in B2C must be implemented in the B2B as well.
Just like in retail, the transactional sites of manufacturers and distributors must be with clean design and easy navigation. We should not make it a rocket science for visitors to find what they need. The user experience must follow the pattern found with online retailers rather than risk having a “unique design” that requires change in behavior. Users already got certain expectations like where the search box and filters are located, how they are used, what should be the process of adding products to the basket, what are the steps in the checkbook, etc. Therefore, when building an online store, we highly recommend using a standard template, then customized with the logo and colors of the brand. Here is a site by nopCommerce:
Users also require detailed product information as well. Not only text, but in audio and video formats, and even represented in rich, interactive content such as calculators and questionnaires that make it easier for customers to select products. In many cases, the abundance of information is more important to B2B buyers because they seek to reach an informed decision, compared to end-users where emotions often prevail.
In the next post we will look at user trends around new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and Internet of Things (IoT). At first, this may look pretty distant from the topic of e-commerce, but is that true? Expect “The future of B2B commerce depends on the B2C customer” – part 2.