The evolution of b2b e-commerce in 2021

by Elliot Infelta on Dec 06, 2021

The end-of-year holidays are fast approaching, it is high time to carry out a retrospective of this year 2021 in terms of b2b e-commerce, what do you say? The opportunity therefore to look back on the digital trends which have marked our consumption habits, but also to make a forecast of those to come. This is good, Fevad recently carried out a study which highlights the results for the 3rd quarter of e-commerce in Europe in this year 2021, we are offering you a short report which will give us the trends to come regarding B2B.

According to Fevad, overall e-commerce turnover increased significantly to reach 15% compared to the quarter of last year to reach 30.6 billion euros (compared to 26.6 billion euros in the quarter from last year). This increase is explained by the +20% jump in services and the +10% growth in products compared to the 2020 quarter. We see that services are growing strongly, not surprising when we realize that more and more services are sold by subscription or electronically, B2B is no exception, as is the purchase of software or services (example: online accountant, online contract drafting).

From a slightly more microeconomic point of view, it is estimated that the average consumer basket is equal to 59.50 euros, approximately the same amount as in the quarter of 2020, the various measures linked to the 2020 confinement make the more difficult analysis. In addition, the purchasing frequency continued to increase to reach 14.5 transactions per buyer per quarter (compared to 13.8 in the 2020 quarter) for a total of 863 euros, an increase of 48 euros in one year. Clearly, we see that the increase in online orders is progressing despite the end of confinement, online ordering has become a purchasing habit for many of us.

As you will have understood, as professionals, online ordering is becoming essential and online sales between professionals also with an increase of +4% in the 3rd quarter of 2020 in B2B (Source FEVAD). In short, you can no longer do without a b2b e-commerce platform like a btob e-commerce site or an order portal solution. B2B e-commerce is becoming inevitable in order to meet the expectations of your customers who are increasingly favoring purchasing on b2b e-commerce platforms rather than via salespeople, orders by telephone, emails or physical stores.

Let's see together the causes of this evolution of sales between professionals in this year 2021 in order to understand together where this enthusiasm for b2b e-commerce comes from and what developments are to come for the coming years.

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Upheavals that have changed entrenched practices among companies

Professionals are all unanimous on the fact that until recently, sales were carried out in the field, thanks to salespeople and ADVs whose mission was to prospect, sell and conclude sales and contracts in person with their customers. . Indeed, the means of online ordering are not yet financially accessible for TPM/SMEs and adapted on the technological side, companies were very concerned about human contact.

However, technological developments and issues such as health problems that we are currently experiencing have greatly jeopardized these sales habits. According to a recent study by SalesForce and OpinionWay, 70% of French people have noticed since the health crisis that it is more difficult to build loyalty towards a brand due to a lack of “more human” contact and therefore slow down their propensity to buy with a company.

In order to get back on track, many professionals have understood that it is necessary, even obligatory, to maintain this link with their clients even despite the health context. In addition to efforts on the ground, professional customers are in demand for additional and complementary solutions to be able to continue to trade and communicate.

This allowed wholesalers, producers, artisans and other professionals to realize that they needed to be more committed and responsible towards their B2B customers. The latter have digitalized their activities in order to correspond to current market trends, with B2B e-commerce platforms. The opportunity therefore to highlight these products, these values, its CSR and all other variants which have convinced more of them to favor their purchases from companies present on the Internet.

Keep in mind therefore, that it is entirely possible to maintain a link with your customers even without real physical contact, a presence on the Internet, via social networks, email contact can completely compensate for this and satisfy certain types of customers .

Companies that have adapted to new trends

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Let's start with a significant number, did you know that 34% of B2B customers of B2B e-commerce platforms say that the health crisis has led them to increase their online order intake? To the detriment of other channels (e-mail, fax, stores, agencies, telephone, ADV, etc.). More than ⅔ of them have adopted this new process in their purchases. In general, it is B2B buyers who have drastically digitized their order intake during this period to meet their needs. (materials, machines, consumables, etc.)

A sedentary lifestyle which affects more and more consumers

According to the General Delegate of Fevad: “This acceleration in the development of online orders in B2B can be explained both by a demand effect: customers confined to teleworking no longer had the usual systems and equipment to make their purchases and therefore found incentives to switch to e-commerce platforms. But this is also explained by a large offer. Given the context and realizing that this acceleration in the digitalization of purchasing was going to last, many distributors have refocused or increased their efforts on digital. »

In short, many B2B customers, given the current context, have had to readjust their consumption habits in favor of b2b e-commerce which has continued to increase, highlighting a few crucial points to take into account:

It is estimated that price remains the first factor of choice for the B2B customer, but other characteristics are important to take into account, in particular the choice of the e-commerce site with the advantage of having the product of their choice delivered quickly . Then, B2B customers believe that product availability is also a criterion not to be taken lightly.

In fact, among B2B customers from large companies and/or mid-sized companies, half of them inquired about these criteria before taking an order and 20% of them had a first contact telephone with the supplier.

B2B e-commerce trends for 2022

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Live-Shopping is growing

The principle remains quite simple, a decor, a camera, a microphone and a good internet connection are enough for your customers from the four corners of France to watch your product presentation live. It is estimated that on average the conversion rate of a Live shopping is estimated between 15 to 35% compared to an average of 1 or even 1.5% compared to a b2b e-commerce site .

For example, at the request of one of our b2b porcelain and tableware wholesale customers who would like to develop this technique in order to inform its btob customers, they will be able to offer, thanks to Live shopping, exclusively arrival of its new tableware and ask them for their opinion in order to estimate sales volumes.

Integration of an order portal or e-shop

When you create an e-commerce site you act on a better customer experience which will be intuitive and personalized. Widely appreciated by new generations of buyers who are “digital natives” and therefore more inclined to consume your products via an e-commerce site. Setting up an online ordering system means allowing your customers to access a multitude of information: prices, models, colors and other particularities of your products or services without going through countless exchanges of emails, calls telephone calls, etc. Thus, your customers will be able to easily consult personalized catalogs meeting their needs with information concerning delivery, minimum order, prices and other essential information.

Many companies already have a b2b showcase site and wish to integrate online ordering functionality via an order portal that can be directly integrated into the current site without redesigning the site, practical and quick to set up. There are several solutions for this, from tailor-made creation, SaaS website solution or even the integration of a webshop via its ERP.

The b2b marketplace

Nowadays, B2B marketplaces are experiencing a meteoric rise in growth, reaching 94% (according to a Xerfi study). The formula is very simple, take a “basic” B2C marketplace, add certain criteria specific to B2B and you will obtain a B2B marketplace.

We said it was simple, right?

There are a multitude of different marketplaces, you will find purchasing marketplaces which allow buyers to quickly stock up on a wide range of products specialized in the agri-food sector, others in textile products or even all products such as Alibaba… Other purchasing marketplaces are similar to an online purchasing center, such as Rungis Market or Metro, there are a lot of them and the commissions vary greatly depending on the marketplaces.

Social networks and their ease of use

You are more and more professionals adopting these new tools in order to relay information concerning your activities as wholesalers, producers or others on WhatsApp, Facebook or even Instagram. To begin, try to visualize which social networks your customers use in order to concentrate at the beginning on 1 or even 2 social networks, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or even Twitter, the choice is wide so do not try at first to use them all .

The goal is for you to take your time, assimilate as much as possible the basics and operations of the chosen networks in order to know when, and what you should post to reach your customers more easily. Thanks to its social networks, you will be able to offer fun presentation formats to your customers, photos, videos, the choice is wide, give free rein to your imagination, your customers will definitely like it!

We are also increasingly seeing the use of instant messaging systems to inform customers about offers or useful information. Sending catalogs in PDF is increasingly used and is proving its worth, as Carrefour recently demonstrated with these customers.

We have therefore seen together a range of developments and new trends in B2B e-commerce in this year 2021, if this type of subject interests you, we invite you to consult our latest articles in order to learn a little more about the issues related to B2B e-commerce.