2024 - The year of B2B eCommerce

August 02, 2024

As the world turns and life continues, 2024 is predicted to be the year for explosive growth in B2B eCommerce.

'Offline' and 'face-to-face-sales' B2B companies are rapidly embracing online commerce solutions as their primary channel for business. 

In addition, many traditional B2B-only businesses are also exploring 'hybrid' model combination opportunities to service their wholesale AND retail or casual customers, with variations of 'combo' commerce sites and eco systems.

B2B 'wholesale' businesses are stepping into the limelight on the global online stage. Deals and agreements once made behind closed doors, between salespeople and buyers, are now taking place rapidly in an online marketplace.

The Rationale -

Market Expansion:
Selling online enables wholesale businesses to reach a broader market beyond their local or regional scope. With an online presence, wholesalers can connect with buyers globally, tapping into new customer bases and expanding their market reach.

Customer Expectations:
As more businesses and consumers embrace digital channels for procurement, there is a growing expectation for wholesalers to provide an online ordering experience. Buyers often prefer the convenience of browsing products, placing orders, and managing transactions online.

Increased Efficiency:
Online platforms streamline the ordering process, reducing the administrative burden associated with traditional methods like phone calls, emails, or fax orders. Automation of tasks such as order processing, inventory management, and invoicing can significantly improve operational efficiency.

24/7 Accessibility:
Online platforms allow wholesalers to provide a 24/7 storefront, enabling customers to place orders at any time. This flexibility is especially valuable for businesses with customers in different time zones, promoting convenience and responsiveness.

Competitive Advantage: 
Wholesalers that embrace eCommerce gain a competitive edge in the market. Online platforms provide an opportunity to differentiate through features such as a user-friendly interface, personalized services, and efficient order fulfillment.

Data Insights:
eCommerce platforms provide valuable data and analytics on customer behavior, preferences, and sales trends. Wholesale businesses can leverage this information to make informed decisions, optimise inventory, and tailor marketing strategies to meet customer demands.

Cost Savings:
While there are initial investments in developing and maintaining an eCommerce platform, selling online can lead to long-term cost savings. It reduces the need for extensive physical infrastructure, travel expenses for sales representatives, and the costs associated with traditional sales channels.

Adaptation to Digital Trends:
The global shift towards digitalisation affects various industries, including wholesale. Wholesalers who embrace online selling align themselves with broader digital trends, ensuring they remain relevant and adaptable to evolving market dynamics.

Supply Chain Visibility:
eCommerce platforms often come with tools and technologies that enhance supply chain visibility. This visibility allows wholesalers to track inventory in real-time, optimize stock levels, and improve order fulfillment efficiency.

Crisis Preparedness:
Recent events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have highlighted the importance of having resilient and adaptable business models. eCommerce provides a channel that allows wholesalers to continue operations even during disruptions to traditional supply chains.

The Catalysts

Digital Transformation:
Many businesses have been undergoing digital transformation initiatives to streamline processes, reduce costs, and enhance efficiency. This transformation often involves adopting digital B2B platforms to manage procurement, sales, and other aspects of business transactions.

The digital landscape has facilitated global trade by breaking down geographical barriers. Online B2B platforms allow businesses to connect with suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors from around the world, increasing the potential for trade and collaboration.

eCommerce Platforms:
Dedicated B2B eCommerce platforms have been on the rise, providing businesses with tailored solutions for their specific needs. These platforms offer features such as bulk ordering, personalized pricing, and integration with enterprise resource planning systems and a multitude of 3rd party support systems

Improved Technology Infrastructure:
Advancements in technology infrastructure, including cloud computing, data analytics, A.I. and machine learning, have empowered B2B eCommerce platforms to offer more sophisticated and efficient services. This can include predictive analytics for inventory management, personalized product recommendations, and real-time order tracking.

Mobile Accessibility:
The increasing use of smartphones and tablets has made it easier for businesses to conduct B2B transactions on the go. Mobile apps and responsive websites have enhanced accessibility, allowing users to manage their B2B activities from virtually anywhere.

Changing Buyer Behavior:
B2B buyers, influenced by their experiences as B2C consumers, increasingly prefer the convenience of online transactions. As a result, businesses have been adapting to meet these expectations by providing user-friendly online purchasing experiences.

Supply Chain Resilience:
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of resilient and flexible supply chains. Businesses are recognising the need to digitize and optimise their supply chain processes, leading to increased adoption of online B2B platforms for sourcing and procurement.

Data Security and Compliance:
With the rise in online transactions, ensuring data security and compliance with regulations has become paramount. B2B eCommerce platforms invest in robust security measures to build trust and meet the stringent requirements of business customers.

Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI)
The buzz of innovation thrives as GenAI continues to grow as more applications appear every day. Supporting, enhancing, improving and revolutionising the status quo.

Digital Maturity
B2B companies firms are investing more in their digital maturity, a measure of an organisation’s ability to create value through digital. The journey to enhanced digital maturity is the ultimate framework to empower organizations to become customer-centric. Equally important is the correlation between a high level of digital maturity with revenue and growth.”

Customer centric service
Customer centricity will be the North Star for practitioners to balance long- and short-term goals, effectively closing the gap between what’s expected and what’s delivered in B2B commerce.”

Composable Commerce
'Loosely-coupled' and composable technologies will start to surge in 2024 as many companies start providing pre-composed solutions and leverage low/no-code commerce solutions.
Support partners and accelerators will also help B2B companies with their digital commerce implementations.

In summary, the catalysts for wholesale businesses to consider selling online often revolve around improving market reach, meeting customer expectations, enhancing efficiency, staying competitive, and adapting to digital trends. As the business landscape evolves, the adoption of eCommerce becomes increasingly crucial for wholesalers looking to thrive in a dynamic and interconnected marketplace.

If you’re looking to incorporate eCommerce into your existing business or need assistance on improving your current eCommerce platform, talk to us today!

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