2023 B2B Ecommerce Trends: 4 to Avoid and 7 to Embrace
Understand ecommerce trends B2B merchants must weigh while pursuing the boundless digital transformation effort in 2023.
Ecommerce managers need to shepherd manufacturers and distributors into sales channel diversity and the digital age. Lead the way with the following B2B ecommerce trends to avoid and embrace.
2023 B2B Ecommerce Trends to Avoid
- Investing in Composable Commerce for the Sake of Composing
In 2022, composable commerce took the ecommerce world by storm. Gartner predicted, "by 2023, organizations that have adopted a Composable Commerce approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of feature implementation." The benefit of flexibility has been offset for many merchants by the significant effort required to create customer experiences from scratch and the additional resources necessary to manage API connections.
When an ecommerce platform lacks native functionality such as a storefront experience or integration framework, cost and time increase with every release. Uncover how Znode delivers an integration framework with its Commerce Connector and its native SDK provides a storefront as a foundation for customer experience and speed to market.
- Forcing a B2B Square Peg into a B2C Round Hole
Whether from mid-pandemic direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce sales efforts or merger-and-acquisition (M&A) activities, merchants recognize that ecommerce increases sales. Because of this, merchants are doing their best to stuff the B2B peg into the B2C hole, an existing ecommerce platform. And failing miserably. Whether this is due to ignorance or shiny object syndrome, merchants are failing to understand the ecommerce requirements their business models demand.
B2C ecommerce platforms weren’t designed to meet the complex business needs of manufacturers and distributors. Merchants pursuing B2B ecommerce require the ability to sell to numerous different customer types and variations between customer accounts, including product catalogs, price lists, payment methods, and more. Znode was designed for B2B ecommerce since its inception. Its dynamic schema data model supports limitless configuration for any business model.
- Using Marketplace Software for Catalog Management
A standard requirement in B2B ecommerce is the ability to provide personalized product assortments to customer accounts. While it seems like a straightforward requirement, the process to facilitate account-based product catalogs in most B2B ecommerce platforms is anything but simple.
Some merchants have gone as far as implementing third-party marketplace software, like Mirakl, to manage account-, segment-, and program-based product catalogs. Don’t do this. Znode provides a native product information management (PIM) system to easily create limitless product catalogs and merchandise products for various customers and experiences.
- Managing Multiple Technology Stacks
Merchants are challenged with managing commerce across multiple technology stacks. The story is common. A merchant operates a legacy platform for limited B2B ecommerce experiences, often acquired in conjunction with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. When the pandemic hit, selling direct became a priority, but the existing platform's speed to market and flexibility was lacking. Another platform is purchased to support the new sales channel. M&A activity ushers in another ecommerce platform and other ERP systems, and finally, the need to sell through marketplaces adds yet one more layer of complexity.
This common scenario causes significant operational headaches:
- Customer service teams must be trained and work on multiple platforms. This is inefficient and only adds to the complexity of turnover, training, and employee satisfaction.
- Technology teams manage multiple tech stacks, including integrating multiple platforms into third-party systems such as ERPs and CRMs. That original monolithic B2B platform may integrate (somewhat) easily, but now all systems must.
- Product information is managed in multiple systems or multiple integrations with a product information management (PIM) system if one exists.
Instead of becoming a revenue opportunity, digital commerce just became a cost center. The solution is simple. Merchants need a single platform to manage all commerce. Znode delivers on the vision.
2023 B2B Ecommerce Trends to Embrace
- Empower Channel Collaboration
Manufacturers and distributors realize that enabling lower supply chain tiers to collaborate on complex sales opportunities can result in significant revenue streams. More and more, manufacturers are creating sales consoles for distributors to work with end dealers or contractors quoting and bidding on jobs.
This type of collaboration is a win-win-win. Manufacturers can identify end-customers of products, distributors can access manufacturer inventory or lead-time information, and contractors get detailed product information directly from the manufacturer with the distributors' local knowledge to ensure job bids are won. This sales channel relies heavily on inventory transparency and facilitating complex pricing models. Check out how Bradley Corporation enabled ecommerce for multiple stakeholders across many channels with Znode.
- Personalize Accounts and Segments
Personalization in B2B ecommerce increases efficiency for all customer stakeholders. It is about convenience. When all customer stakeholders (engineers, service providers, buyers, etc.) receive a value-adding experience, merchants are more likely to win the sale, time and time again.
B2B ecommerce personalization needs to deliver these three core objectives:
- Provide customer value to increase engagement.
- Reduce the cost of sales throughout the customer lifecycle.
- Deliver efficiency in the customer experience by providing the right products, content, and price.
Merchants can align personalized experiences to a customer account or even a user role within an account with Znode’s accounts and user profile segments. Unique experiences can be delivered by prioritizing specific types of content, product catalogs, search experiences, inventory transparency, and more by roles.
Provide Supply Chain Transparency
B2B buyers are demanding more than ever regarding vendor transparency, particularly product availability. The pandemic exasperated B2B ecommerce merchants having the ability to address buyer demands for product availability.
Znode allows merchants to display product quantities, manage inventories of multiple warehouses, and turn physical stores or branches into warehouses for buying online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS) strategies. In an effort to provide greater transparency, merchants can also enable back-orders with typical lead times and back-in-stock notifications.
Similar to self-checkout at a grocery store, B2B buyers are continuously pushing for a frictionless purchasing experience from quoting to order placement to account management and more. Facilitating account buyers with personalized product catalogs and curated experiences helps reduce the purchase process friction. The expectation of self-service is not consistent and often varies. How can merchants meet buyer self-service expectations in B2B ecommerce with such variability?
Flexibility. Znode provides native configuration to allow limitless self-service experiences.
Ecommerce managers can set up approval workflows for order placement, including user budgets per order and annual order limits for automated routing. Additionally, customer account administrators can self-manage buyer permissions. Lastly, accounts can request quotes in Znode.
Expand Payment Options
Continuing the trend of friction reduction has led to the expansion of payment options for many B2B merchants pursuing ecommerce. Traditional commerce payments centered around invoices, purchase orders, and communication between AP/AR teams. Offering customers credit to purchase with payment terms is time and labor-intensive. B2B ecommerce is about efficiency.
The payment methods in Znode allow merchants to provide customers with an efficient payment process. Gone are the days of wire transfers from AP teams to AR teams. Customers can pay invoices online with the ability to accept ACH payments within Znode. Znode’s Commerce Connector allows merchants to streamline traditional commerce payment further by providing a framework for integration with credit-as-a-service providers.
Sustainability in Many Ways
The trend of “going green” is nothing new. Merchants have been embracing environmentally friendly materials since before this century. But B2B merchants recognize the same sustainability principles can be applied to business software. Many businesses are handicapped with ecommerce platforms that cannot scale with growth or be adapted to new business requirements without significant cost.
Change is a constant for manufacturers and distributors. Mergers and acquisitions, evolving customer expectations, and new product launches all drive change in B2B ecommerce. Znode delivers the dynamic schema for B2B ecommerce to facilitate such change. These dynamics extend beyond product information to customer contract terms and customer experience. As businesses add channels, the opportunities and challenges multiply. Znode’s dynamic schema provides ecommerce platform sustainability.
Centralize Multiple Commerce Channels
As merchants optimize digital sales channels with personalization, supply chain transparency, and additional payment options, the need for efficiency continues to grow. Operating multiple ecommerce platforms, whether by channel, geography, or segment, requires significant resources. Streamlining ecommerce channel operations to a single platform can be a significant cost savings opportunity. This means identifying an ecommerce platform that can centralize multiple channels and numerous business models.
Znode was created with the belief that all commerce is ecommerce. It allows merchants to centralize commerce management on a single platform, reducing integrations, streamlining business processes, and maximizing investment. The multi-channel B2B ecommerce platform supports multi-program ecommerce through multi-store and multi-catalog management. Znode’s dynamic schema and API-first architecture are the secret ingredients that allow merchants to create a center of commerce to serve customers better while reducing operating costs.