Predictions shaping B2B digital commerce in 2024

5 (out of 10) predictions shaping B2B digital commerce in 2024

Julia Rabkin
Julia Rabkin
Senior B2B Product Expert, commercetools
Published 17 January 2024
Estimated reading time minutes

What will 2024 bring for B2B commerce? And what are the top-of-mind priorities that will materialize this year? Here are five predictions (out of 10) for 2024 from commercetools experts to help you in this journey.

Predictions shaping B2B digital commerce in 2024

Since we published the inaugural edition of the Pivotal Trends and Predictions in B2B Digital Commerce last year, scores of B2B organizations have made incredible progress in digitizing commerce prompted by the ever-increasing (and much-talked-about) shift in customer expectations. Gartner predicts that a staggering 80% of sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels as early as 2025, so it comes as no surprise that the B2B eCommerce market continues to rise above and beyond with a projected CAGR of 18.30% and projected to exceed USD 18.97 trillion by 2028.  

However, not everything is rosy in the brave new world of B2B digital commerce. Despite manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers digitizing rapidly to align with customer expectations, meeting those remains an ever-shifting target. If there’s one lesson from 2023, it’s that there's a widening gap between what buyers want and what most B2B organizations can actually deliver.  

This is because customer expectations in B2B have evolved faster in the last 12 months than anticipated: Consumer-grade experiences, such as personalization and omnichannel interactions, are now top-of-mind.  

Opportunities and blockers in B2B commerce in 2024

That said, the inevitable question arises: Will 2024 further amplify or close the gap between the demands of B2B buyers and the digital capabilities of B2B organizations? 

To answer this question, we updated and enhanced last year’s report, shedding light on how the B2B digital commerce market is evolving. Here, get to know five of our 10 trends and predictions from seasoned commercetools experts to help you get started for a successful 2024 in B2B commerce!

#1 More than data quality: Flows and integrations

In 2023, despite data management becoming crucial for B2B companies, 63% of decision-makers cited data cleanliness as a major obstacle to eCommerce growth. This year, we expect that B2B firms will accelerate the evolution of their data management to meet omnichannel demands. Generative AI will serve as a helpful tool in the pursuit of clean data, restructuring product data for personalized recommendations. 

Data trickling down across the organization is also critical for sales teams to have one view of customer needs to close deals faster. According to McKinsey, two-thirds of B2B companies with the fastest rates of sales growth generate account-level intelligence compared to just about half of slower growers. Investing in data analytics will also provide deal-level insights that can make all the difference to win a sale. 

If you don't have that master data hierarchy though behind the scenes, you're just going to create a ton of downstream trouble. And so that's something that we spend a lot of time investing in and making sure is accurate.
David Krohn

Director of Digital Marketing & Communications, Zurn Industries⁷

#2 GenAI starts translating buzz into B2B reality

GenAI continues to grow as more applications arise every day — this phenomenon being no exception in B2B digital commerce. A myriad of use cases are popping up, including improving product detail pages (PDPs), spearheading data hygiene initiatives, boosting hyper-personalization, facilitating dynamic content adaptation and pricing optimization, as well as AI-powered search capabilities. 

However, a note of caution is needed, especially in the short-term. According to Forrester Research, “Thinly customized GenAI content will further degrade the purchase experience for 70% of B2B buyers”. 

Remember that GenAI, with all the promise it holds, is a technology yet to mature. Many practitioners will be excited to experiment with it, with failures and successes along the way. In the long run, there’s no denying that GenAI can be transformative for B2B organizations, but it will take a while to get there.

Anything worth having is worth iterating around. Nothing is perfect when it comes out the gate, right? AI is about learning, it's about iterating, it's about reestablishing the norm and crowdsourcing information to get more accurate over time. I said it yesterday, and I’ll say it again: Don’t sacrifice speed for perfection.
Meeta Kratz

Global VP, Product Management & Marketing, Lonza⁸

#3 Customer-specific everything, everywhere, all at once

B2B firms have historically championed hyper-customized deals that meet the unique needs of their B2B buyers. But scaling customized pricing, discounts, catalogs and even fulfillment through new and digital channels has remained a mission-impossible endeavor due to lackluster, or a lack of, digital capabilities. 

As B2B buyer expectations become ever more demanding, scaling customization options will become the next frontier for B2B sellers in 2024. It will become easier to tailor every aspect of the buyer journey, and creating dedicated customer portals will become even more the rule than the exception. Robust, flexible and configurable product modeling capabilities will take the B2B landscape by storm as a way to manage complexity while delivering simplicity. 

A notable example is Cargo Crew, an Australian workwear company that enables B2B buyers to browse, customize and order work uniforms in a tailored fashion. Cargo Crew started to build custom B2B websites dedicated to strategic clients to streamline the complex uniform supply chain process and facilitate easy 24/7 ordering of curated uniform ranges, including categories, images, pricing and catalog. This tailored site enables clients to purchase uniforms in bulk and personalize products with embroidery, monograms, emojis and logos. 

We have created scale within our business by being able to quickly launch and customize a web of eCommerce sites across our complex business.
Paul Rodgers

Co-Founder and Operations Director, Cargo Crew

#4 Change management and collaboration come into sharper focus

To win hearts and minds during their quest for digital maturity, B2B organizations will increasingly recognize that change management and team collaboration, especially between IT and business peers, must take center stage. There are different aspects of why modern technology, and composable commerce in particular, are knocking down the traditional walls of “tech” and “business” departments for enhanced collaboration: 

  • First, as low- and no-code tools emerge, the responsibility of bringing innovation to and managing eCommerce operations becomes more distributed across different teams and roles beyond technical teams. 

  • And second, the rise of a composable organization as an entire business philosophy also accelerates how teams are organized: Many businesses have started to create small and cross-functional teams around a specific function, such as a shopping cart, which increases collaboration and results.  

Moving into 2024, B2B practitioners will see digital transformation as business transformation, with more organizations embracing modern organizational approaches as well as a further leap into the agile mindset for development. 

It’s not about technology; it’s primarily about change management as that’s going to be required to gain the adoption for those that are actually going to be doing the work.
Mark A. Pickett

Former VP of Marketing, MSC Industrial Supply Co.⁹

#5 Midmarket B2B firms turbocharge digital maturity with composable

Midmarket B2B organizations, defined as companies with a transacting volume of 100 million to 500 million USD in annual revenue, that plan to prioritize digital maturity initiatives are likely to tap into composability as a driver for growth. We expect that many midmarket firms will invest in laser-focused projects to automate labor-intensive processes such as manual ordering, cross-border eCommerce or omnichannel capabilities. 

By embracing API-first composable commerce, which offers modular architecture for rapid innovation, MMG [midmarket growth companies] B2B firms can swiftly adapt to market changes to optimize revenue generation and capitalize on emerging CX opportunities.
IDC MarketScape: Worldwide B2B Digital Commerce Applications for Midmarket Growth 2023-2024

2024 will also bring a string of incentives for B2B companies as modular technology matures: More B2B-specific accelerators will emerge as well as pre-composable solutions, providing a shortcut for digital newcomers to leverage eCommerce faster and more efficiently.

Actually, in some ways, I think the smaller companies could benefit even more [from composable commerce] because it's something that really differentiates you from a lot of companies who are around your size.
Jeff Amash

CMO and Co-founder, Tekton⁹

What’s next: Closing the gap

B2B commerce continues to grow thanks to a multitude of trends that will evolve further in 2024. A common thread in this evolution fabric is the B2B buyer’s digital shift reaching maturity status

To bridge the gap between the demands of B2B buyers and the digital capabilities of B2B organizations, it’s crucial to prioritize practical initiatives that address customer needs as a route for sustainable growth. 

The 2024 edition of our B2B Pivotal Trends report showcases more than the evolution of the B2B digital commerce market: It also provides big ideas on how to effectively close that gap between the ever-evolving customer expectations and the capabilities B2B organizations should deliver. Featuring success stories from a diverse array of B2B organizations, along with interviews with thought leaders, our report provides a comprehensive overview of key trends and predictions for 2024. 

Start turning trends into action! Read our guide on Pivotal Trends and Predictions in B2B Digital Commerce in 2024 to get a complete view of our forecasts and stay ahead of buyer expectations now and in the future. 

Julia Rabkin
Julia Rabkin
Senior B2B Product Expert, commercetools

Julia is a Senior B2B Product Expert at commercetools. With over a decade of experience across product and marketing teams in the tech world, she is an expert at creating innovative, customer-first strategies, and excelling in cross-functional growth & GTM initiatives.

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