Many years after getting excited about online ordering, followed by mobile apps, we’ve reached the age of hyper-convenient experiences, where technology is less about cool, new innovations we can bring to life and more about how we can use digital tools to take the most hassle-free path to complete purchases and other tasks.
Each year, the trends we identify in ecommerce are indicative of how the world around us is evolving. Technology continues to add convenience to our lives, to streamline once-manual tasks, and to give us new ways to communicate, learn, shop, and interact.
While some technology takes time to infiltrate our routines, others become staples in every home in the blink of an eye. Enterprises like Google have become such an essential part of how we use the web that “to Google” has become synonymous with, and even replaced, the phrase “to search online.”
This year, more than ever, ecommerce experiences will be simple, intuitive, convenient, and fast. Here’s how these expectations will shape the top five 2019 B2B ecommerce trends.
Digital-First B2B Commerce for Younger Buyers
The B2B world is being rocked by the sheer volume of millennials entering the industry. Now more than ever, we are seeing B2B buyers getting younger. Three-quarters of millennials are involved in or even running the decision-making process for B2B purchases for their organizations. This translates to a much larger percentage of online purchases, and to buyers who expect these transactions to be as convenient and reliable as the rest of their digitally enhanced lives.
Millennials are digital natives, and their reliance on and preference for digital channels is disrupting B2B commerce as we know it. As many as 83% of millennial B2B buyers expect ecommerce to keep them more informed about product choices than ever before.
Almost 60% would stop doing business with a B2B vendor based solely on a mobile experience that’s difficult to use. To deliver on expectations for this fresher audience, ecommerce must become a king; your sales team, offline channels, and other tools and resources must simply serve as additional support to enhance the new, reigning channel of choice in B2B.
The Rise of Voice Search
We’ve been eyeing voice search and voice-enabled technology for some time now, waiting for the moment when it becomes the new go-to way to search and place orders. That time is now.
We’re living in a new phase of digitally enabled evolution, and voice is becoming a major component of this next step. These days, we live and work with technology engrained in the way we do things; our mobile phones are rarely out of sight or out of our hands; our corporate jobs revolve around a desktop.
We’ve now reached a point in the digitization of our lives where the rise of voice search and voice ordering is not just likely—it’s inevitable. By the end of 2019, it’s likely that we will see the first major wave of voice-enabled ordering in B2B.
Voice technology usage until now has grown because it has enabled us to make our existing tasks easier, but it will truly take over when it begins to fundamentally change how we do things.
B2B Online Marketplaces
As digital demands continue to change and markets get more competitive, businesses are merging or working together to more easily serve their customers. “By next year, online marketplaces are expected to account for 40% of the global online retail market.
In B2B, that impact is already being seen especially in procurement. Gartner estimates that 75% of B2B procurement spending will happen via an online marketplace within the next five years.
We can no longer isolate the most important thing needed to do well in ecommerce or as a business. Organizations will have to step up their game and prepare for a new wave of collaboration as online marketplaces become the new normal.
Lightning-Fast Order Fulfillment
With this expectation as the bare minimum, 2019 will see a sharp growth in businesses investing in more efficient and more reliable order fulfillment. And it won’t be about next-day shipping anymore. We’ll be talking about making delivery within the hour possible.
In B2B, for example, if your customer needs a specific product on a job site, they want to turn to a business that will go above and beyond to make these kinds of things happen. This means enabling fulfillment that’s as fast as possible or understanding that the customer will likely then buy from a competitor who can.
Retaining your customers with better fulfillment processes is a no-brainer, and 2019 will be a testament to just how ready B2B businesses are to go the extra mile to remain competitive.
Goodbye to the App Store
We’ve reached the age of hyper-convenient experiences where technology is less about the cool, new innovations we can bring to life and more about how we can use digital tools to take the most hassle-free path to task completion.
Alongside the rise of convenient omnichannel experiences has come the rise of progressive web apps, and in 2019, they’ll begin to render mobile app experiences as we know them obsolete, eliminating obstacles in the buyer journey for customers who browse and purchase across multiple channels, and we will begin to treat cross-channel purchasing like one cohesive process, rather than distinct behaviors that we need to connect and unify.
In short, we’ll see more B2B businesses thinking end-to-end when it comes to digital, and ultimately eliminating siloed approaches altogether.