Challenges of B2B digital commerce

Commerce is deeply connected to B2C commerce. For some time we have been hearing about changes in consumer habits, the growth of online retail and the entry of more and more players into this market. However, little is said about the effects of digitization on B2B relationships as well, where e-commerce has also grown, bringing new challenges and opportunities to the market.

It is common to imagine that transactions between companies are conducted through face-to-face contacts, but even this model has been transformed by technology, and many companies are creating new opportunities in the digital marketplace. So much so that a study conducted by Statista pointed out that the global B2B e-commerce market reached 14.9 trillion US dollars in 2020, which at the time was five times the volume of the B2C market.

Little is said about the effects of digitization on B2B relationships, where e-commerce has grown with challenges and opportunities for the market.

And it is a market that should grow. Another study, the Future of Sales, conducted by Gartner, points out that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions will take place through digital channels, driven by changes in consumer habits, which will prioritize digital shopping when taking decision-making positions. The potential is great, but it brings with it a number of challenges.

B2B challenges

The first of them is the proper selection of an e-commerce platform, which must take into account several characteristics that are absent in B2C models. Here, due to the scale and, in many cases, the variety of products, it is ideal to have a technology that is scalable and flexible, able to handle multiple specifics, such as online price composition, the possibility of assisted sales, by material code, import of CSV orders, scheduling invoicing date, repeating orders and extracting commercial indicators specific to the business.

Another important point is that this same platform adopts a headless store model, allowing the backend and frontend to work independently. This will bring agility and increase opportunities for personalization and innovation, especially in the use of multi-channel sales models.

Another challenge, perhaps the most critical, is changing mindsets. The use of online channels is part of the digital transformation process that must encompass people, processes and technology. Therefore, a company must consider these pillars when evaluating its commitment to B2B e-commerce. Remember that this is not about abandoning traditional channels.

In addition to choosing the platform that best suits the company’s profile, it is necessary to take into account some very specific characteristics of B2B e-commerce:

long-term relationships

These are not one-time purchases, but long-term partnerships that ultimately aim to help both parties achieve excellent results.

Customized products and prices

In B2B e-commerce, personalization is essential, especially to ensure expressive sales. Hence the need to create an adaptable negotiation model that takes into account the reality of each customer’s business.

More complex payment methods

Online B2B shopping presupposes access to options such as volume-based discounts and payment methods such as transfers, installment payments or even blockchain.

Longer purchase cycle

Here, transactions have a longer cycle, a smaller base of potential customers and a higher average ticket, as well as offers and repeat purchases.

As we said before, the digital model should not replace the face-to-face one. Therefore, it is important to develop a multi-channel platform that will provide the customer with an integrated experience. This journey necessarily involves choosing an e-commerce platform that can be customized and optimized for different types of businesses.

Also read: A superior B2B experience requires a “H2H” strategy

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