The average B2B buyer is under the age of 35 — in other words, a millennial. Since younger generations are known for being comfortable with the latest technology, it makes sense for companies to be tech savvy. That's why it should come as no surprise that B2B firms plan to spend more on ecommerce technology than in the past. So what are they going to spend their money on in 2019? Here are the top five trends to expect in the B2B ecommerce space next year.
If you want to increase the odds of converting leads to customers, it's important that you make it easy for them to purchase your products in a variety of ways. Whether they go to a brick and mortar location or use a website, mobile app, social media page or online ad to buy products, they deserve a smooth, quick buying experience.
It should be as easy to buy through your mobile app as it is at your store or over the phone.
This means you can't just take the multichannel approach in which you make your products available through several channels. You need to take the omnichannel approach, in which you deliver a consistent experience through every channel. It should be as easy to buy through your mobile app as it is at your store or over the phone. And in 2019, B2B buyers are going to expect just that, since omnichannel ecommerce is one of the latest trends. So make sure your branding is the same across all channels, and that all buying options offer the same seamless shopping experience.
Given that the average B2B buyer is a millennial, you'll find that the internet is almost always more appealing than a phone call. That's why chatbots are rising in popularity. These days, when buyers need help with the purchasing experience, they don't always want to pick up the phone: not when they can quickly type a question to a chatbot and wait seconds for the answer. That's why Gartner predicts that by 2021, over 50 percent of companies will spend more annually on chatbots than on mobile app development.
By 2021 50 percent of companies will spend more annually on chatbots than on mobile app development.
So how can chatbots help? They're most often used for customer support, answering basic questions buyers might have during the purchase process. But as chatbots advance, they're starting to be good for making personalized recommendations, which is perfect for ecommerce these days, when customers increasingly expect a personalized shopping experience.
Another B2B ecommerce trend to expect in 2019 is augmented reality, or AR. This is a great way to use technology to showcase products to buyers without making them come into a brick and mortar location. IKEA and Amazon are just two major retailers that use AR so consumers can see products in action online, as their websites allow shoppers to virtually place products around a room to see how they fit before buying.
Anything that makes your buyers feel more comfortable with your products — without having to see or feel them in person — is a good idea, and AR makes that easy.
So how does AR work for B2B ecommerce? Well, some companies have used AR to create an interactive product catalogue that shoppers could click on to see more details, such as how products fit in a room or how people could interact with them. Anything that makes your buyers feel more comfortable with your products — without having to see or feel them in person — is a good idea, and AR makes that easy. That's why AR is one of the newer B2B ecommerce trends for 2019.
Virtual reality, or VR, has a similar goal of AR, which is to blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds. However, while AR adds a digital layer to the real world, VR seeks to recreate the real world in a digital setting, even if that means shutting out reality for a few minutes. So it tends to be more immersive, letting users feel like they're in the simulated reality rather than simply viewing a 3D object online.
You can create a VR experience in B2B ecommerce through the use of both sights and sounds. For example, offering a 360-degree tour of your showroom will make shoppers feel like they're there rather than just viewing products on your website. Allowing them to virtually reach out and grab products by clicking or swiping on the screen can further improve their shopping experience, as it will feel more personalized and engaging for them.
Voice Search and Shopping
Finally, one B2B ecommerce trend that shouldn't really surprise you is the use of voice for searching and shopping. After all, most people have become accustomed to using voice assistants like Siri on their smartphone, or Alexa on Amazon's Echo. So the prediction that about 50 percent of searches will be voice assisted by 2020 makes sense.
About 50 percent of searches will be voice assisted by 2020.
Not only will people continue using their voice to search for information, but they'll also use it to shop. Some people already do that when they ask Alexa to order products online for them. Right now, voice shopping is still fairly new, so the industry is worth $2 billion. But it's expected to reach a whopping $40 billion by 2022, so 2019 is the perfect time to check out this newer ecommerce trend.
You don't have to try out all these new ecommerce techniques at the same time. In fact, doing that can be overwhelming! But now is a good time to get acquainted with the ones that interest you most, which may vary depending on what you sell and who your audience is. Even adding one or two of these trends to your ecommerce plan in 2019 will make you more competitive among B2B buyers. After all, anything you can do to make your buyers' shopping experience easier and more streamlined will keep them coming back to your brand.
Have any questions about upcoming B2B trends? Ask them in the comments!