As we move towards the end of 2018, there’s a variety of trends that have become apparent in the B2B marketplace, and it’s up to you to make sure that you’re paying attention and staying abreast of these shifts.
The fact is, that with so many B2B stores starting up, it’s never been more important to stay on top of changes and shifts in the marketplace. You need to be aware of new technologies, techniques, and ideas before they hit, and if you’ve not already started integrating the below trends, you’re already going to be slightly behind.
B2C businesses are ahead of B2B in many ways, simply because they were the first into the breach. Through looking at what makes the best B2C online stores tick, you can extrapolate trends to your business.
In B2C, it’s been realized over the last few years the importance of the buying experience and making the client feel humanized and noticed, and that’s just one of many elements that work well for B2C, but could work amazingly for B2B.
Here are eight of the most significant B2B e-commerce trends of the last year and going forward.
When it comes to B2B e-commerce marketing, you’re in a privileged position. You can utilize the most up-to-date modern digital marketing techniques, allowing you to get a firm toehold in the digital space while combining those efforts with more traditional B2B marketing.
This combined approach could be referred to as post-modern marketing and it’s set to be the way forward when it comes to staying ahead of the competition. After all, marketing is all about achieving a consistent balance between different methods and techniques.
Some of the biggest online retailers utilize social responsibility as both an ethos to work by, and a powerful marketing tool. In a world where brand marketing and social responsibility have never been more significant, having your business demonstrating their awareness and commitment to help issues is a powerful thing.
When it comes to reinforcing your brand, boosting brand loyalty and generally creating an entity that people like and can get on board with, social responsibility is not to be sniffed at.
That’s not just true for customers either. When it comes to recruiting others to your business, a good track record of social responsibility and a strong brand with it can be a fantastic way to draw valuable people to you.
It almost goes without saying nowadays, but if you’re still not prioritizing mobile users for your online B2B store, you’re going to be missing out in a big, wrong way.
There’s going to be a point in the very near future where mobile devices, especially larger, more powerful ones, start to take over from laptops. Some might argue we’re already past that point. This isn’t just true for recreational users either, but in the business world especially.
Entrepreneurs manage their businesses through their tablets and smartphones nowadays. Can you really afford to be relying on customers switching to their desktop to make your sales?
The vast majority of B2C businesses already have mobile responsive site design, and most B2B e-commerce companies aren’t far behind. You need to be reaching out to your customers in every which way you can, and that includes mobile.
Multi-Media Content Creation
For years now, it’s been stated that content is king, and while this remains true as ever, the biggest caveat is that you can’t just stick with one form of content. Multi-media content creation and marketing is the answer to this.
If you want to be a step above the competition, you need to be producing videos, articles, useful apps and other forms of content. That’s essential when it comes to providing valuable, engaging content.
People expect personalized, human experiences from their online buying nowadays, with this being especially true for the B2C marketplaces. The very best online retailers are the ones that are able to truly make their clients feel noticed and special.
Obviously, this is valuable for B2C, but it’s infinitely more important for B2B, where you’re relying more on fewer customers to make larger orders.
That’s why you need to be prioritising making the client feel noticed and valued. You don’t want them to feel like they’re going through the motions of another soulless internet purchase, especially not when brand loyalty and recurring orders are as important as they are.
Use techniques proven in the B2C arena and take them even further to show your clients that you are more than a faceless online business and that their patronage is appreciated.
Customisation and ABM
When it comes to traditional B2B marketing, one of the biggest avenue streams a business can expect is through account-based marketing. ABM marketing requires you to build a certain level of trust and reliance with the client, but once you do, you can form a very rewarding relationship, with that one client functioning like a market of one.
All of that is, of course, dependent on you being able to accommodate businesses by having a high level of customizability for your clients. You need to be able to set up the purchasing situation they require, in the quantities, time-frame, and quality that they require.
Advanced levels of customisability are going to be one of the factors that set apart the best B2B e-commerce stores in the future.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
With huge online B2C retailers starting to put augmented reality into effect, it’s high time it started getting more use in the B2B arena. This is an amazing way to give your customers a proper glimpse at what they’re buying while allowing them to picture it in-situ.
This has been used to great effect by opticians online, giving the bespectacled a chance to virtually try on glasses without actually having to purchase them.
Imagine the possibilities for a construction business being able to virtually picture a key part or material where it needs to be. You’d be able to have the expects or craftsmen take a proper look at the product before buying it, and that’s just the possibilities with a certain kind of company and industry.
The fact is, AR and VR technology is coming on fast, and with more and more businesses using it to sell their product, it’s time B2B stores started looking at ways they could be more effectively selling using new technology.
While you might find yourself wondering whether Instagram-style influencer marketing is really the one for your B2B store, don’t forget that it’s not all about Kim K. Influencer marketing stretches much further than simply Instagram, although that is a part of it.
We’re talking business networking social media, like LinkedIn, with hugely successful industry leaders and entrepreneurs posting to vast numbers of followers. That’s where things are headed.
It’s not just about getting the truly massive industry leaders to post your stuff either (not that that’s an easy goal!), but micro-influencer marketing has also been proven to have massive value for B2B businesses.
One of the big problems B2B companies have when it comes to marketing is getting the message about what their product actually is across. Micro-influencers generally have less than 100,000 followers, but this allows you to specifically target very niche areas of your industry, perfect for B2B.