| | Trends

B2B e-commerce is growing rapidly, but the differences between B2B and B2C are becoming increasingly blurred

… A huge opportunity for many e-commerce suppliers

For the second consecutive year, the e-commerce platform Litium conducted an e-commerce survey among Sweden’s B2B companies, i.e. those companies selling goods and services to other companies.

The report is entitled “Svensk B2B-handel 2017” and it shows the continued strong growth for B2B e-commerce: Today, 67% of B2B companies are selling digitally, an increase of 57% from the previous year. And 53% of those who do not currently offer e-commerce today plan to do so within the next three years.

So although B2B companies are behind the B2C companies, for whom simplicity and speed have been the key, the boundaries between B2B and B2C are becoming increasingly blurred. There is always a buyer on the other side, and today, even B2B buyers are after flexible interfaces and flexible, speedy deliveries, just like when they purchase goods privately. In the report “Svensk B2B-handel 2017”, it says very clearly: “Buyers will want to choose when and how they make purchases, just like in their personal lives!”

So B2B e-commerce is growing rapidly, and the boundaries between B2B and B2C are becoming blurred, but what else can we expect to happen in the digitisation of B2B companies based on the new report by Litium? Here are some other interesting points that the report shows:

* In the digitisation of B2B companies, it is important to integrate with other systems within the company, and integration with the company’s ERP system takes the highest priority. However, integration with PIM, CMS and transport management systems is also important. It is interesting to note from the survey that the integration of CRM and marketing automation systems is also on the rise.

* B2B companies are faced with the challenge of finding and attract new employees who have digital skills while competing with B2C companies who are more widely known and have stronger brands for job seekers.

*Other challenges that can stand in the way of rapid digitisation are the willingness to change working methods, to simplify the current complex processes and make the digital experience as smooth as possible, and to find a suitable platform that can handle the company’s demands.

* The seller’s role is changing with regards to digitisation, and there may be channel conflicts and difficulties to find incentives for sellers: “There will be two distinctly different customer journeys: a transactional one in which the customer does not want or need contact with the supplier and all decisions are made using digital platforms. The other is a customer journey that is consultative in which the digital platforms complement an advisory sales process which includes field sales agents.”

In conclusion, the report is a very interesting read. You can find it here (in Swedish).

My own biggest insight is that many B2B companies will start e-commerce in the next few years, and therefore will have to find competent suppliers who can handle complex processes in numerous channels (at least behind the scenes), and are good at integration with other systems that are important to B2B entrepreneurs; they simply need to find one or more stable partners for their digitisation.

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