One of the fastest growing markets, B2B e-commerce has completely transformed the functioning of B2B organizations. The market share of B2B e-commerce is expected to reach USD 6.7 trillion by 2020, over double the expected market of its B2C counterpart (USD 3.2 trillion). Distributors are shifting to online platforms quickly out of fear of losing out to competitors.
What Makes B2B E-commerce a Fast-growing Market?
Two primary forces that are driving growth are ease of conducting business and greater customer relationship management offered. An online platform allows businesses to streamline a wide variety of functions such as order management, delivery efficiency, and pricing modules. The ease in business isn’t limited to manufacturers, either. The customer purchase experience is enhanced greatly with a B2C-like feel.
Further, a platform with built-in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) like Salesforce offers a business the ability to increase the personalization of each customer’s experience. Good customer relations have been the foundation for B2B commerce and online platforms take them to the next level using the plethora of data they generate.
Along with these two factors, several features make a cloud-based platform a popular choice for B2B organizations. These include implementation of Configure Price Quote (CPQ) modules, chatbots for personal purchasing, and omnichannel marketing.
Another major factor in the popularity of cloud platforms is its ability to transcend geographical boundaries. The reach of a business increases to a global scale where it can interact with other organizations around the world. Dealing on an international scale becomes simplified because customers can view the prices in their local currency, use preferred payment methods, and ensure that regulations for trading are met. Communities can be formed around the world which provides a cohesive and approachable stage for customer interaction.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Despite its wide reach, there is still a lot of room for growth in the market. Many organizations made the mistake of creating their own technology stacks for e-commerce which raised the total cost of ownership. The current trend shows that cloud-based platforms are preferred by new entrants because they are more convenient, cheaper, and more effective. Businesses that created their own platforms are also shifting to the cloud.
Along with these platforms, organizations need to work externally as well to increase the benefits they receive. According to Google, approximately half of the queries regarding B2B commerce originate from smartphones. Businesses should develop a mobile app or a mobile-specific website to take advantage of this aspect. There are options for app development available on Salesforce which enable companies to pursue this avenue easily.
Building a social media presence is another area which is gaining increasing importance. Social media channels should focus not only on brand visibility but also on building personal relations with customers. This social media presence should be combined with an easy-to-use website that contains all the necessary details required by the customer. Explainer videos, product details, testimonials and perhaps an immersive product experience are key in convincing customers, leading to more sales.
The B2B e-commerce market is growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15% per year. In India alone, the market is expected to see a USD 400 billion growth from 2015 to 2020. These statistics are symbolic of the unprecedented growth seen by the market due to technological advancements, and it is only expected to rise further thanks to the innumerable tools offered by cloud-based platforms.
There are no industrial barriers, as these platforms are being adopted by organizations from software vendors to fast-moving consumer good manufacturing companies. Platforms like Salesforce are representative of the modern, technologically advanced, global market, and it’s time for B2B companies to take advantage.