The rise of ecommerce: what the new digital standard for B2B commerce means for your business

May 24, 2022 | 3 minute read
Ben Tarkoff
Product Marketing Analyst, Oracle Commerce
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B2B buyers are embracing ecommerceThrough all the upheaval of the last few years, ecommerce on digital platforms has become more and more essential in B2B sales.

According to a 2021 report by McKinsey & Company, 41% of B2B leaders ranked ecommerce as their most effective sales channel, compared to 37% who chose in-person and 31% who chose video-driven sales. Basically, the new digital standard for B2B sales isn’t just a prediction—it’s already here.

However, getting ecommerce right isn’t always easy or intuitive.

On one hand, B2B buyer expectations have skyrocketed to a level that we used to only expect from consumers. On the other, they still want the unique, personalized experience and level of customer service that they’d get from relationship selling.

The rising importance of digital channels in B2B commerce

Sales growth is taking off on digital channels—whether you’re ready for this shift or not. By understanding the current state of B2B commerce and where it’s headed, you can be better equipped to emerge as a leader.

Digital Commerce 360 (DC360), a global leader in ecommerce research and media, analyzed some of the biggest trends in B2B commerce in a March 2022 report.

Some of the most significant takeaways include:

  • In 2021, B2B ecommerce in the United States increased 1.17 times faster than all manufacturing and distributor sales.
  • Recent research on ecommerce in global manufacturing showed that more than a third of B2B manufacturers predicted 25% growth or higher in B2B ecommerce sales for 2021 and 2022.
  • Many suppliers believe self-service ecommerce options are competing with their traditional sales channels, like in-person sales (54%) or phone-based sales (47%).

How today’s B2B vendors can keep up with changing trends

It’s clear that, however hesitant they may be, B2B vendors can’t afford to ignore or neglect online options. In an interview with DC360, our own Ian Davis, VP of Product Management at Oracle, explained that “customers keep pulling more sales into digital channels, regardless of business readiness.”

So, what does this mean for B2B practitioners now and in the years to come? In his interview, Ian expanded on the industry-wide shift to digital platforms, sharing his thoughts on the most important investments for sales success.

“Three key themes will shape the years ahead,” said Ian. “Unification of the front office, self-service purchasing for complex goods and services, and bringing the back office into the commerce experience.”

Assess your brand's ecommerce experience

Ian also touched on the emerging disparity between the B2B practitioners that embrace these shifts and the ones that fall behind.

“Some companies are catching up, while others are mastering omnichannel fulfillment, cross-channel marketing automation, and expanding into new product categories, across borders and regions, and into digital businesses,” said Ian. “Companies that are struggling to keep up are those with outdated buyer perceptions, siloed experiences, and poor self-service capabilities.”

A seamless, omnichannel buying experience is the new standard for a successful B2B commerce solution. Only by consistently exceeding expectations can B2B commerce providers stay competitive and keep their customers coming back for more. The commerce practitioners who excel will be defined by how well they cater to their customer base and how invested they are in continually improving the customer experience.

Find out how your B2B commerce strategy stacks up

As we’ve seen in the last two years, the world can change in the blink of an eye. Is your commerce approach changing with it?

Read the full DC360 report, “Pivotal Trends in B2B Ecommerce,” for more insights on the new digital standard, and check out the full interview with Ian Davis on page 6.

Take our assessment to score your organization’s approach to ecommerce and learn where you are on the path to CX excellence for commerce.

Ben Tarkoff

Product Marketing Analyst, Oracle Commerce

Ben is a product marketing analyst for Oracle Commerce.

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