Technology continues to add convenience to our lives, streamline tasks, and give us new ways to communicate, learn, shop, and interact. The latest trends are usually indicative of the changes the world is currently experiencing.
2019 is no different, as this years’ trends affecting wholesale eCommerce reflect the buyers’ wish for a customer experience that is simple, intuitive, convenient and fast.
Let’s look at a few of the trends coming to the forefront in 2019.
1. Omnichannel disrupting B2B selling
Omnichannel offers buyers a completely streamlined and connected buying experience across all online and offline channels. It focuses on enhancing the customer experience by offering more flexibility to buyers in engaging with brands however they like.
Expect to see a rise in omnichannel selling in 2019. Make sure your wholesale B2B eCommerce solution can provide a consistent customer experience regardless of the channel or device your customers use to engage with you.
2. Not just fast delivery - super-fast delivery
Customers expecting fast and accurate delivery is nothing new. In fact, delivery has become a key issue, very much due to Amazon’s exceptional capabilities which are challenging the entire industry. In fact, deliveries are the new battleground for retail giants Walmart and Amazon, with the potential to reshape how consumers do their shopping.
In 2019, next-day shipping will no longer be enough. The expectation will be delivery within a few hours, so all key players in the supply chain – brands, manufacturers and their distribution partners must adapt to enable that. Whether this will be done by enhancing automation capabilities or improving data visibility across the supply chain for better decision making, expect 2019 to be the year where fulfillment and delivery capabilities take the spotlight.
3. The changing technology habits of the B2B buyer
2019 will see younger B2B buyers with different technology habits than before. These millennials are digital natives. They demand that their B2B transactions are as convenient and reliable as the rest of their digitally enhanced lives. Their total reliance upon digital channels is disrupting B2B commerce meaning that just having a B2B web store is no longer enough – you need to offer what they want.
What is that? We know that almost 60% of B2B buyers will stop doing business with you if your mobile eCommerce experience is too complex and difficult to use. Another 79% expect eCommerce technology to create personalized buyer journeys for them.
The millennial buyer is transforming the selling side of eCommerce and you must take note to stay ahead.
4. Personalization is the new norm
As mentioned above, the new B2B buyer expects their entire customer journey to be personalized. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ customer experience approach simply won’t cut it anymore. Businesses need to tailor their service to meet each buyers’ individual needs.
Omnichannel selling means ensuring you provide that cohesive brand and personalized experience across all integrated channels and touchpoints.
5. Artificial Intelligence will drive the customer experience
Following on from the importance of personalization, Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’) – the science and engineering of computer systems to think and learn – is already influencing the personalization of the customer experience by determining user intent in search engines, identifying relevant product recommendations, displaying relevant ads, optimizing website layout and more.
These capabilities are key for the success of eCommerce sites with Gartner predicting that by 2020, personalization technology could mean a 15% increase in eCommerce profits for brands.
6. The time for voice search is nearing
Voice search and voice-enabled technology have both been around for some time, but in 2019, voice is becoming even more dominant.
With our mobile phones rarely out of our hands, many of us are now also dependent on voice-enabled home assistants (like Amazon’s Echo or Google Home) to play music, set reminders and more.
Voice enabled commerce is no longer a dream of the future. In 2019, be prepared to explore a voice-assisted strategy, starting with optimizing for search and possibly expanding to other areas of B2B interactions.
7. B2B online marketplaces
As markets get even more competitive, brands and wholesalers are looking for alternative ways to sell to retailers.
We are already seeing this happen with Amazon Business, Alibaba’s 1688.com and eBay, and Gartner estimates that 75% of B2B spending will happen via an online marketplace within the next five years.
It’s therefore worth being aware of this trend and how it could impact you with new business relationships needing to be established, storefront changes having to be made or evolving logistical processes.
However, selling via online marketplaces also has several disadvantages:
- Firstly, the seller has to pay a % of each sale to the online marketplace as a commission.
- Next, marketplaces have complete control of the customer experience - You are using the marketplace website, template, user experience, and customer service (if the marketplace provides fulfillment services).
- The online marketplace determines which seller is shown to buyers and in which order, meaning that as a seller you aren't in complete control of your brand, how you are positioned and how you sell.
- Lastly, it's not possible for you as a brand to offer customer-specific prices or personalization.
To sum up…
Although changes in technology can be daunting, taking note of these trends will help you transform your business’ digital future. By embracing the key developments that are reshaping wholesale eCommerce, your customers will view you as leaders in the industry.