As we 're in the early stages of 2016, I thought it would be a good time to assess where B-to-B e-commerce stands and what its future for the new year looks like. Not surprisingly, B-to-B e-commerce will continue to grow at a rapid pace. According to a Frost & Sullivan report, B-to-B e-commerce sales will reach $7 trillion by 2020. With this in mind, manufacturers and wholesalers need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, or risk watching their competitors succeed while they get left behind.
One of the biggest trends to watch for in B-to-B e-commerce in 2016 will be the use of mobile devices and smartphones. In 2014, and for the first time ever, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic. According to an IMRG Capgemini report from that year, 36 percent of sales were completed on a mobile device. That set the stage for more growth in 2015, and now, according to Forrester, 52 percent of B-to-B buyers are doing their product research via smartphone.
B-to-B buyers are researching products by browsing catalogs and reading reviews, which ultimately leads to mobile devices being a driving force in their purchase decisions. The number of companies doing their research on a mobile device will continue to rise in 2016. Therefore, a positive mobile customer experience could be the key to differentiation and profitability.
As m-commerce rises in popularity, mobile wallets will continue to be an option that companies explore. Mobile wallets aren't perfected yet, but with more companies exploring this as a new alternative, the more likely mobile wallets will become increasingly sophisticated. Companies that provide mobile wallets, such as Google, need to make vast improvements in this technology, especially when it comes to security. Hackers will always be a threat, but if these companies can prove their security to be adequate, B-to-B buyers will be more motivated to use mobile wallets for their purchases.
Moving into the m-commerce sphere will be important, but companies must not forget the customer experience as they build out their mobile platforms. B-to-B buyers expect the same seamless and consistent experience in their professional lives that they’ve come to know from their personal B-to-C transactions. B-to-B companies need to deliver as much detail by providing product specifications, rich content, high-resolution product images and merchandising guidelines.
M-commerce was a player in 2015, but it will be an even bigger trend in 2016. B-to-B companies need to find innovative ways to make their presence known in the mobile world. The companies that excel in the mobile space while providing the customer with the most seamless and enjoyable user experience will be poised for success.
Suchit Bachalli is the president, North America, of Unilog, a global technology company which specializes in e-commerce and enriched product catalogs for the B-to-B marketplace.