That 2023 is the year of B2B commerce is a no-brainer. But what trends can we expect to unfold? Here’s a snapshot of what we believe will happen this year — and how it can impact your eCommerce strategy.
The pressure continues to build for B2B players to invest in digital commerce. Since the pandemic, it’s clear that B2Bs without an online presence are unlikely to survive, let alone thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape. That's why 2023 is the year that we'll see B2B manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors adopt eCommerce to an even greater degree.
Composable commerce is at the forefront of this renewed focus, enabling B2B players still plagued with manual processes and siloed backend systems to benefit from a flexible, scalable and agile infrastructure. The rate of migration of B2Bs with a digital presence hosted on monolithic platforms to modern architectures will also increase this year.
While we’ll see a lot of movement in the B2B eCommerce sector in 2023, how will this happen? What trends and insights should you take into account to craft your vision and execution plan? Explore a snapshot of our predictions and trends based on customer talks, research and insights from the experts at commercetools.
1 - Strong focus on data quality and personalization
Delivering customer-centric experiences is intrinsically connected with data management. In B2B, buyers expect product, pricing, inventory, shipping and customer data points to be accurate across every touchpoint so they can make better purchasing decisions, such as when to order products and calculate quantities, as well as personalization.
However, data accuracy remains an issue as 84% of B2B suppliers don’t provide timely information on price, product formula changes, availability, etc. This is because most companies still rely on rigid data paradigms unable to handle large quantities of unstructured data.
With so many data points to capture throughout the customer journey — product, inventory, pricing and customer data — we’ll see more B2B companies reorganizing their vast information pools to upsell and cross-sell more effectively. They will pivot to modular and API-first solutions, plus flexible data models, so they can break data silos and access the data when needed.
This is what Geberit, a sanitary technology manufacturer, has kicked off. The company manages a vast product catalog with thousands of product variations and faces the challenge of displaying accurate Product Data Pages (PDPs) across all touchpoints. With modern data management under the hood, Geberit can power product data across various retail channels with the option to compile shopping lists and download data.
We also expect to see more customer analytics to unlock data on buyer behavior. By understanding what customers see, click and add to their shopping lists, companies in the B2B trade get valuable insights into how buyers tick and can reflect this data in the shopping journey according to product interests or persona. The use of data to unlock growth has already shown first results; B2B companies that use analytics extensively tend to outperform their competitors.
It is important for B2B companies to look at their data as if it is one of their products; invest in its upkeep and integrity while finding ways to continuously improve it. Using advanced analytics powered by AI and ML to identify patterns from large amounts of data, B2B companies can activate insights into customer decision journeys to maintain loyalty, personalize experiences to improve satisfaction and boost revenue, while also finding ways to optimize costs. For example, with analytics, enterprises can streamline spend to focus on the highest-performing channels and reduce waste.
Google Cloud VP, Consumer Packaged Goods Industry Solutions
With data-driven tools coming into play, we expect B2B players to boost customer analytics to personalize experiences, improve customer satisfaction and reduce churn with renewed focus.
2 - Product discovery to the rescue
B2B companies usually have vast product catalogs supporting thousands of product variations and customizations. As a result, finding the right product can be a herculean task, translating into missed opportunities and revenue. With 70% of B2B buyers doing online research to find the products they need, we expect that discoverability will stay a priority for companies across the digital maturity spectrum this year.
Normet, a leading equipment supplier for underground mining and tunneling projects, is a prime example of boosting product discovery. With a highly specialized product catalog of 65,000 spare parts maintained manually for years, the company streamlined product discovery for existing and potential new customers and digitized all SKUs to upsell and cross-sell products by promoting other value-added accessories.
3 - The B2B customer experience will be redesigned
B2B commerce in 2023 will be about designing consumer-like experiences! With 83% of B2B buyers now preferring ordering or paying through digital commerce and 73% eager for personalized B2C-like experiences, it’s clear that B2B players need to take a page out of the B2C playbook and create engaging experiences throughout the customer journey.
While intense work needs to happen in the commerce engine to streamline every step of the customer journey, B2B players will also implement core changes in their digital frontends. An increased focus on boosting website performance, mobile responsiveness and personalization will be at the forefront of these advanced digital initiatives.
This is exactly what Australia’s largest work uniform retailer, Cargo Crew, has achieved with a massive redesign of its customer experience. The company launched a unique multi-site platform with 27 websites, enabling an easy 24/7 ordering system of fully curated uniform ranges, plus bulk purchases and personalized products with embroidery, monograms and logos.
The investment in composable commerce paid off: Cargo Crew saw a significant uplift in online revenue by 34% and growing transactions of between 10% and 19% in ordered items. The company also saved an estimated 2,000 hours of client service and customer administration time compared to a manual ordering process. Online shopping now represents 73% of total transactions and 38% of business revenue.
The example of Cargo Crew perfectly encapsulates how B2B firms will take advantage of composable architectures: By adding best-of-breed functions in payment, checkout and search powered by one commerce engine orchestrating all interactions and data, as well as stunning storefronts, the company is ready to grow even further in 2023.
It’s hard to predict what’s down the road in 2023, so the best B2Bs can do is prepare for whatever comes their way. Investing strategically during times of uncertainty instead of waiting for the crisis to pass is how B2B companies can thrive. This is exactly what composable commerce helps companies achieve with flexibility, scalability and agility to manage constant change.
2022 was already a turbulent year; for better or worse, 2023 is expected to have a similar fate. For B2Bs, even the ones with tight budgets, investing in digital commerce is a great way of future-proofing their businesses and getting ready for whatever’s happening this year.
Want to find out what other predictions and insights the commercetools experts put together? Read our guide on Pivotal Trends and Predictions in B2B Digital Commerce in 2023 and get a complete view of our forecasts for this year.