B2B E-commerce: A Short History

B2B E-commerce A Short History

Introduction

When President Richard Nixon took office, he campaigned for de-escalating the Vietnam War so that South Vietnamese military forces would assume control of the country’s defense after American military forces withdrew. Moon landing. Woodstock. 1969 is known for several historical events, and it might surprise you that 1969 also marks the start of e-commerce.

2019 marked phase two of e-commerce when the pandemic hit the world, and digitization was put on a fast track to save the economy. The pandemic-induced surge in digital demand lasted over two years, but now the business sector is beginning to settle into more predictable patterns of operation. Some business-related aspects, nevertheless, will never return to “normal.” B2B trade is one such arena. The pandemic has significantly hastened the digitalization of B2B purchasing, even if it was already going online and imitating B2C. Some of the best eCommerce development companies in the USA predict a larger scale for B2B e-commerce.

Out with the Old Days

Unlike its counterpart, the B2C model, the B2B model has been traditionally slow to adapt to changes. While B2C adapted to internet technologies faster, B2B struggled, leading to low demand for B2B e-commerce solutions. Most B2B e-commerce sites were therefore created from scratch, mainly utilizing Microsoft.net and SQL servers. In the “old” days, a salesperson had to travel and go into the field to close the big deals. Individualized pricing and product offerings were the standards, and in-person sales and relationship-building were regarded as innate requirements. This has also drastically changed.

Contrarily, there are currently a variety of B2B-friendly e-commerce systems available for use by wholesale, manufacturing, distribution, and trade businesses, from the popular Magento and Magento Enterprise to Hybris for more complex B2B needs, Netsuite, IBM, and several specialized solutions. Pureplay B2B e-commerce platforms have become more prevalent over the past year, like OroCommerce and B2BCloud, which offer highly optimized B2B platforms free of retail features.

The Transitionary Days

The transition started when merchants realized the transformation in customers’ expectations. Digital channels for B2B commerce were previously only considered appropriate for straightforward, minor purchases up to a certain limit. This has changed significantly. Today, 70% of B2B buyers indicate they are willing to spend more than $50,000 on digital, remote, or self-service purchases, and more than a quarter (27%) are willing to spend more than $500,000.

More than 75 percent of B2B buyers currently prefer digital or remote interactions over in-person ones when purchasing. If B2B firms can master the digital experience, there is more opportunity than ever for online and remote sales.

One of the main reasons for transitioning from a traditional way of sales to online sales is that the profile of B2B buyers is changing. Buyers are now increasingly aware of the benefits of the internet. They are now a large tech-savvy group, using the web for the tiniest of transactions. Buyers started using their social connections to research products and services using the internet.

With the addition of Millennials, you have a B2B customer base that is constantly online, always connected, and used to switch between screens, devices, and platforms while anticipating seamless and effective interactions. The stakes are now higher for all kinds of businesses as a result. Before the new era of B2B sales, it may have been feasible to operate without a mobile-friendly website. Still, successful companies will adopt the endless aisle strategy, prioritizing mobile and customer experience above all else.

B2B businesses favored in-person sales and were compelled by the Covid-19 pandemic to search for more digital alternatives. More B2B e-commerce solutions emerged, as a result, reinventing buyer-seller interactions. Today’s B2B e-commerce is considerably more open, effective, and quick.

44% of millennials make purchasing decisions, while 33% provide suggestions or otherwise influence the purchasing process, which is another important factor in the expansion of B2B e-commerce. The technologically sophisticated millennial B2B buyer is in charge. The recent intensive wave of innovation has profoundly altered both customer expectations and B2B eCommerce.

The New Days

The future of e-commerce should include a smooth transition between various digital platforms. With rising digitalization, the number of client touchpoints and point of sale (POS) engagements has significantly increased. Digital channels and technology commonplace in B2C transactions must now be used in B2B trade.

Any customer today expects their B2B provider to act like a retail merchant. One-click checkout, real-time stock and availability, next-day delivery, order status, and loyalty points are all prominent features of many B2B e-commerce solutions. All of this is present on B2B e-commerce sites with the highest conversion rates and excellent usability and design.

During its inception, B2B e-commerce sites required potential customers to go through a one-week account signup process before they could access them. B2B e-commerce sites wanted to ensure that nobody other than the customer could see the product line and costs. Information was, therefore, scarce—possibly just a few “About us” pages and a login panel. Businesses are now more focused on improving the lives of their existing consumers than on keeping an eye on what their rivals are doing, which is more significant.

Mobile, video and online chat are the three primary areas that require immediate improvement. During the pandemic, B2B video usage has increased by 41%, while online chat usage has increased by 23%. The need to link commerce with IoT, smart devices, speech platforms, and even virtual and augmented reality will increase. B2B sellers will need to integrate with everything from delivery vans to smart shelves in their suppliers’ warehouses to complete the fulfillment process. There is a list of the best e-commerce development agencies that provide solutions as per the needs.

Conclusion

Briefly said, B2B selling has become considerably more difficult. Buyers need access to product details, pricing, compatibilities, connected items, shipment schedules, and continuously updated inventory regardless of the channel or device they use. The important takeaway for businesses is that they need to have a digital commerce platform that can swiftly adopt new technologies and create more complex and interesting experiences.

Author Bio

Ekta Patel is the Digital Marketing Executive at Selected Firms –  a B2B Marketplace for Finding World Class Agencies. She is a Skilled Digital Marketer with 7 Years of experience in eCommerce, SEO marketing, Google AdWords, and social media content building. She has created quality content for the company’s websites/apps, blogs, and case studies. In addition, she has profound experience working for IT organisations and is responsible for introducing the latest eCommerce trends to the team.

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B2B E-commerce: A Short History

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