With predictions that investments in B2B e-commerce, native mobile applications, and cloud-based platforms are set to skyrocket over the next few years, it is imperative that manufacturers and distributors embrace new technology to stay competitive in the coming months.
Here are several examples of the kinds of technologies set to transform B2B trading in 2016 and help manufacturers and wholesale distributors better serve their customers.
Technologies Transforming B2B Trading in 2016
1. B2B eCommerce
At the end of the day, B2B buyers are also consumers. The expectation is that the B2B product research and purchasing process becomes comparable with B2C buying experiences. According to one Forrester report, 50% of B2B Companies say that their customers use B2C and B2B websites to buy for work.
eCommerce is also influencing buyer behavior. The Forrester study found that digital platforms are more proficient in building customer loyalty, and that online customers are more prone to make repeat purchases and add extra items than those buying offline. By providing an opportunity for customers to take greater control over the research and buying process, eCommerce is also resulting in a move from traditional paper-driven processes, with 69% of B2B companies expecting to phase out paper product catalogs over the next 5 years.
2. Cloud-based platforms
The efficiency gains, simple implementation processes, potential savings, and scalability of cloud software will make it difficult for manufacturers and distributors in the B2B trading space to ignore it. According to Benoit Lheureux from the Gartner blog network, “Consolidated integration solutions, embedded integration, and Cloud services brokerage are examples of how IT solutions are evolving to meet more demanding IT user requirements.”
Cloud-based technology and APIs will provide a real opportunity to increase internal visibility and customizability, resulting in streamlined back office operations and enhanced customer experiences.
Perhaps in not so shocking news, but mobile internet searches have overtaken desktop queries in the U.S. Although these figures are indicative of the general population’s mobile use, B2B trading is set to follow this trend. According to Accenture’s report Channel Shift: Measuring B2B Efforts to Shift Customers Online:
“Fifty percent of interview participants have already implemented mobile strategies; 36 percent have mobile plans in the works and only 14 percent don’t intend to focus on mobile.”
The most effective mobile commerce platforms will be optimized for an ideal customer experience, allowing retailers to place orders right at the shelf when they see a product running low, for instance. The importance of M-commerce in both the research and purchase phases will become increasingly evident in 2016.
There is no question that developments in B2B trading are moving at lightning speed. Vendors who adopt the necessary technology will transform their customers’ experience and increase their bottom-line. How are you using technology to change the way your manufacturing or distribution business operates? We’d love to hear what has been working for you in the comments.