Although the B2C industry has embraced the growth of e-commerce for many years, the business-to-business world has been slower to make the move. Many of the upcoming trends to watch for in B2B companies are related to this prolonged transition to the digital age. If you are in the business of buying or selling wholesale goods or services, here are a few trends to keep your eye on.
Continued Growth of Online Marketplaces
More and more businesses are using online marketplaces such as Amazon to sell to other businesses. Surprisingly, Amazon is not the biggest online marketplace, but it does offer multiple ways to utilize its services that allow B2B companies to customize their level of autonomy.
Ali Baba is significantly larger than Amazon. Whereas Amazon was created as a B2C marketplace, Ali Baba started out and remains a marketplace for wholesalers looking to sell their products to other companies.
Using online marketplaces is not new in the B2B industry, but the growth in recent years has been explosive. More than 90% of all B2B buyers use online marketplaces to procure their goods. In fact, nearly 75% of all B2B purchases are made through one of these marketplaces.
The Return of Face to Face Sales Interactions
Although B2B businesses reacted quickly to recent events that curtailed in-person sales meetings, not all of them made the transition successfully. In fact, nearly 50% of leaders in the industry say that they find face-to-face interactions to be more productive. As recent generations take their place as influencers in the economy, the move to the complete digitalization of B2B e-commerce has become inevitable. However, until more companies embrace and master the use of wholesale digital platforms, technologies and tools, there will likely be a temporary return to more face-to-face interactions in 2022.
Increased AI Usage
Although the transition to a digital B2B industry is an absolute necessity for companies seeking longevity, these companies must also contend with the conflicting demand for personalization in customer service. To service clients and customers who demand a personal touch without ever having to interact with another human being, forward-thinking B2B businesses are embracing AI. Artificial intelligence allows for the blending of these two contradictory needs by gathering detailed information that allows the AI to offer the immediacy of digital service while using adaptive technology to personalize the experience.
The Adoption of AR and VR Technology
AR and VR are technologies that have long been used by companies that sell directly to consumers and are now being adopted by B2B businesses. These technologies can create virtual training environments, product demonstrations and even virtual tours of products and facilities that meet and even exceed those currently being offered at in-person events. With a click of their mouse, potential clients can have access to reams of analytical data while getting a detailed visual of the products they are interested in.
A Trend Toward Social and Environmental Advocacy
A concern with social and environmental causes are earmarks of both Millennials and Generation Z, both generations who stand on the precipice of being movers and shakers as consumers and business owners. These generations are actively involved in social, political and environmental change, and they expect the companies they do business with to be active as well. As a result, more B2B businesses are taking a stand on causes from racial equality to climate change and being rewarded for doing so with high levels of customer loyalty.
Consumers, both individuals and businesses, are making a rapid change to digital commerce. B2B companies will need to embrace this change in order to flourish now and in the future. Continuing to practice business in the real world only is no longer a sustainable strategy. Companies need to learn about new wholesale digital platforms and tools such as AI, AR and VR. Every B2B business must have a robust and seamless website as well as a social media presence that will allow them to gather information from customers, understand their needs and get to know their values.