B2B ECommerce Trends For 2018

February 7, 2018 - 12 minutes read

Learn The ECommerce Trends Your Business Needs To Keep Track Of

When it comes to ecommerce, you don’t want to fall behind on the trends. Ecommerce has revolutionized the way that we shop, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Just think about how most Americans shopped twenty five years ago.

Amazon was only three years old and most Americans still did the overwhelming majority of their shopping in brick and mortar stores. And if they weren’t, they were ordering something over the phone – and not a smartphone, since they didn’t exist yet! Today, the way that we shop revolves around ecommerce. Most web traffic is now coming from mobile devices, which is a major change from just the past five years. If a business misses an ecommerce trend, they can fall behind their competitors and find it difficult to make up the difference. In 2018, a wide range of new ecommerce trends are set to change how businesses interact with their customers, vendors, and other businesses. Augmented reality, video marketing, and localization strategies are just a few examples of how ecommerce is set to change in 2018. These changes will have a large impact on the B2B ecommerce space, which is why companies need to be aware of them now. Let’s take a closer look at these upcoming B2B ecommerce trends.

1. Cognitive computing

Cognitive computing is similar to artificial intelligence in that it helps humans make more informed decisions. The amount of interactions between humans, businesses, suppliers, and vendors is difficult for any B2B ecommerce manager to track. Cognitive technologies allow businesses to track the wealth of data that they have about their customers and apply that information in a meaningful manner.

Cognitive computing can do more than simply track customer trends and offer potential marketing changes. It can also optimize the processes for inventory and supply chain management, which simplifies the job of an ecommerce manager. Cognitive computing can help in predicting a product’s future demand, track customers’ online behavior and shopping history, and better personalize the experience of shoppers (more on that later). It is critical that ecommerce managers have help tracking customer trends, because the data is so vast and trends can be so particular that they can be easy to miss without the work of cognitive technologies.

2. More automation

Tracking prospects through the customer journey, providing higher levels of personalization, and figuring out your inventory management can get tedious very quickly. The level of service that customers expect has risen significantly, and it is no longer possible for one person or even a small team to manage all these interactions alone. That is why more automation is becoming the norm in the ecommerce space.

Ecommerce businesses are integrating their platforms with ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems in order to get a better hold on customer information and shipping data. Sales automation tools can also be integrated, so that management can have one place to handle virtually all of the ecommerce business, from the marketing side, the sales side, and the inventory side. This way, businesses can improve both their customer and supplier relationships at the same time, without having to manually handle every single interaction. The resources that are freed up through automation can be reinvested into the business or used to research and build new products and services altogether.

3. Self-service ecommerce

B2B buyers are more sophisticated and independent than ever, and that’s why self-service portals are going to become a bigger trend in 2018. Amazon already provides these types of services, and businesses are going to want to get that level of specificity for their orders and overall online experience. Customers want to be able to request a quote without having to wait for an extended period for an answer, for instance. Thankfully there are a number of tools available that allow you to easily create your own self service B2B ecommerce store.

4. Augmented reality

New tools like augmented reality and virtual reality are going to change the way people shop. Imagine you are a small business that is looking to furnish a new office. Instead of going to a furniture store and purchasing furniture that you hope has the look, feel, and size that will go right with the new office, you can utilize augmented reality to shop without ever leaving your office space. You could take a look at your smartphone and open up a furniture ecommerce app. From there, you could choose any type of furniture – from chairs to desks to lighting fixtures – and see how they fit in your office. Augmented reality takes the piece of furniture, a desk for example, and superimposes it over the input from the camera, meaning that shoppers can see exactly how their new piece of furniture would look.

That is only one potential application for augmented reality, but the possibilities are endless. For instance, you could imagine trying on watches or shoes on an augmented reality app. The proliferation of self-service portals will actually help businesses better track their customers and their online behaviors. As companies can better track their prospects throughout the customer journey, they’ll become better at offering specific products and services that they need.

5. Higher level of personalization

Today’s customers expect a higher level of personalization when they shop online. They expect that the businesses they shop with understand what their preferences are, instead of giving them a generic shopping experience. That is where dynamic personalization comes in. Dynamic personalization is relatively new, but it is helping businesses generate different online shopping experiences for different customers. For example, a business engaged in dynamic personalization could show one landing page to a first time visitor, and a different landing page to a customer who is an existing lead. Dynamic personalization helps to nudge the customer along on their journey, giving them the right information at the right time, until they are ready to make a purchase. The type of content they are served later on their customer journey is determined by the choices they have made before. For ecommerce businesses, this can greatly improve the customer experience and increase the odds that a shopper is going to become a repeat customer in time.

6. Video marketing

Video has quickly become something that ecommerce businesses cannot ignore. Video has proven to be more effective than text at keeping prospects’ attention and moving them towards conversion.

Video has become less expensive to produce in recent years, and more companies are now able to create high-quality videos that explain the usefulness of their products. Videos can come in a wide range of different types, from longer infomercials to short videos that are used on Facebook or Instagram marketing campaigns. But this increased use of video is important because it is now something that customers have come to expect from the brands that they shop with. Your company needs to make sure that it has the capability to produce video and that you are creating videos that resonate with your customer base.

7. Localization strategies to target overseas growth

A tremendous amount of ecommerce growth is coming from overseas, particularly in Asia. Countries like China are still rapidly growing, and their emerging middle class and the companies that serve them are buying goods online at a quickening pace. India is another country where ecommerce growth is strong. Businesses in the United States cannot simply run the same marketing campaigns on multiple continents and expect great results everywhere. Companies are learning that they need to localize their content to match the location where they are selling. That means making sure that the website is translated to the local language, changing pricing to reflect the local currency, and changing the marketing to reflect the local culture. It might mean changing a marketing effort to remove something that might be considered offensive in a local culture that isn’t in the United States.

These new ecommerce trends are going to set the stage for what customers expect from the companies they buy from. In the future, customers are going to expect a higher level of personalization and for businesses to understand their needs and particular online behaviors.

Customers who buy from abroad are going to expect businesses to run localization campaigns, not to simply run generic marketing and expect to increase sales. Augmented reality and artificial intelligence are two examples of massive change that might have well have been in a science fiction novel five years ago. But businesses have to recognize these trends and act on them if they want to have their edge in the competition.

The ecommerce businesses that can adapt to these new trends will thrive, while those who fail to adapt over the long term will struggle. That’s why it is critical to get ahead of these trends early, so that your business doesn’t have to rush to implement them in the future. Make sure that your company is prepared to take on these trends in 2018, and you’ll be able to provide better service to your customers and develop stronger relationships with your suppliers and vendors.

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