How technology is impacting commerce for business?
More and more people see digital commerce as an efficient and effective way to purchase corporate products and services. This is confirmed by data – only overseas, last year online sales in B2B e-commerce increased by nearly 18%., reaching the level of USD 1.63 trillion 1 . Furthermore, it is estimated that by 2025. even 80 percent. Business-to-business interactions will take place online 2 . Are B2B markets in Poland likely to become part of mainstream e-commerce soon?
Pandemic has caused companies to increasingly buy products and services online. In e-commerce type business-to-business Only a small, single-digit percentage of online sales are made through shopping platforms 1 . In the retail and wholesale sectors, where large companies operate, orders are usually generated by buyers through other digital purchasing channels, such as EDI (electronic digital interchange) software. Due to more personalized and flexible delivery for businesses, adapting to demand, and offering positive, interactive shopping experiences, e-commerce marketplaces are gaining in popularity.
Businesses are going online
Changing consumer behavior, disrupted supply chains, the closure of many industries, and enacted restrictions – all of which in early 2020. retail sales have declined, while e-commerce sales have soared. As industry data shows, only in 2020. Polish B2B e-commerce was worth approx. PLN 450 billion 2 .
It was at this time that many companies began to see their opportunity to go online, working to move their businesses online. This trend has been noticed by Krzysztof Rusin, president of MAZOP Group, a company specializing in the manufacture of cardboard packaging and Boxmarket store with packaging adapted to the e-commerce market.
– Pandemic has allowed the e-commerce market to grow by leaps and bounds. We see that the B2B e-commerce channel is targeted mainly at micro and small companies, while larger orders are still carried out through traditional sales channels. Our Boxmarket platform, by targeting online stores, is a beneficiary of the increased interest in online shopping, because it is to smaller new stores that our offer is best suited – says Krzysztof Rusin.
In turn Sebastian Religa, CEO of Saly S.A. – of a company creating a B2B e-commerce platform to support sales and optimize business processes – sees the growth of interest in B2B sales in its digitalization. As he admits, it has a huge impact on the rapid development of this type of business and will certainly progress.
– Already in the B2B market in the e-commerce channel, we are seeing an increase in the number of customers and more frequent and larger purchases. Personalization and transparency of the offer as well as easy communication are also becoming more and more important. Undoubtedly, new tools and improvements will still be needed to respond to market needs and make the shopping process faster and easier. This includes topics related to payments, invoicing or logistics – says Sebastian Religa.
It turns out, however, that B2B online sales has not only its bright spots but also its shadows. These have been recognized by US B2B buyers – 44 percent. 3 of them admit that after the end of the pandemic they would like to buy goods or services in stationary shops, and 29% admit that after the end of the pandemic they would like to buy goods or services in stationary shops. says it will rely on sales reps for this. So what are the biggest obstacles in B2B online shopping? Nearly one-third of buyers from the U.S., U.K. and China most often cited the problem of finding the right product, while 29 percent. mentioned lack of possibility to negotiate prices or discounts. Payment hassles also appeared – 26 percent. The number of people complaining about the process of completing transactions, and 22 percent of. on available payment options 4 .
I buy, so I experience
While it’s already the norm to transfer consumer habits and expectations from B2C to B2B shopping, it’s different when it comes to the purchase path itself. The business customer purchases more frequently than the individual customer – they tend to be much larger, and more people are often involved in purchasing decisions. Building relationships between buyers and sellers is also key. It is therefore important to consider the nature and needs of such a customer.
From the merchant’s point of view, aspects such as speeding up the selling and buying process and automating these processes are particularly important. Merchants also pay attention to a number of available functions that increase positive customer experience, which according to statistics is often more important during shopping than the product price itself 5 . These include m.in. An advanced search engine and clear product families (making it easier to navigate the store and find the optimal product), the ability to work on several shopping carts at once and by multiple users of the company or loyalty programs. All this makes customers more willing and more likely to shop.
– The key is to understand the way of working and the needs of business customers and to meet them. For example, users of e-shops that use Saly S.A., they can have different levels of access to the purchasing platform. With this option, staff can prepare different order baskets throughout the day but it is the manager who ultimately approves them and completes the order. Such shopping functionality is a direct response to a specific problem of companies working in the B2B sector and buyers appreciate it – adds Sebastian Religa.
As Arkadiusz Bulc, a representative of online payment operator Tpay, points out, the B2B segment can be viewed from two perspectives – it’s not just the traditional sale of products and services through multiple channels.
– The second perspective, which in my opinion is much more extensive and – consequently – provides more business opportunities, is the cooperation between companies. An example of a solution that facilitates and drives such a relationship is the Partner Program at Tpay. It consists in the fact that we provide an attractive offer for our e-commerce solutions to other business entities which have online stores among their clients. Therefore, we invite to cooperation companies that provide their services to the e-commerce industry, such as. softwarehouse agencies that put up online stores or SEM and SEO agencies that position them. We settle on a commission-based system – says Arkadiusz Bulc, E-commerce Specialist. Tpay Affiliate Program.
According to Tpay, since the beginning of the Affiliate Program, the company has gained almost 12 thousand customers. Merchants, and the turnover of e-commers, which took advantage of partners’ offer, increased in January this year, compared to the previous one, by 74 percent. 6
– For owners of e-businesses such cooperation between companies enables them to receive comprehensive and more attractive price offers – in our case, for such an important today online payment system – adds Arkadiusz Bulc from Tpay.
Dedicated software supports sales
When business owners invest in the digital transformation of their shopping channels, it is natural that they want to be assured of maximum returns on such investments. So what do product and service providers need to focus on specifically to improve their online offerings? According to a study conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Wunderman Thompson Commerce, e-consumers in the U.S., U.K. and China frequently cite performance issues with B2B sites – as much as 61 percent. admitted to being frustrated by a lack of functionality, and for 60 percent. page load speed is too slow. Another key aspect is a better mobile experience – indicated by 78 percent. respondents.
Due to high optimization, a good solution for many entrepreneurs is a B2B online store in the SaaS (Software as a Service) model, which simplifies complex processes and helps to effectively manage business functions. According to the analysis, the size of the global e-commerce software market was valued at $6.2 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow by 2027. will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.3.
In the context of B2B sales in the e-commerce channel, the SaaS model can be attractive to smaller companies, especially in the initial phase of digital sales, by minimizing the barrier of entry and financial risk.
– Such attractiveness is not only due to many times faster implementation (weeks vs. Tpay is a solution that can be used in many different ways (e.g. for a few months) and at much lower costs than a dedicated solution created by an IT specialist or a company hired for this purpose. A SaaS solution offers numerous technological solutions right from the start, such as integration with various programs and systems that allow the company to grow and scale quickly. It is a reliable system and, what is important, guarantees the success of this transformation – says Sebastian Religa.
The same is true for large and very large businesses. There are known examples that a large product catalog and the vastness of the offer and the necessary functions were simply too complicated for dedicated solutions. SaaS technology, however, is able to handle them, as evidenced by the example of Saly S customers.A.
– It is important to remember that not every B2B e-commerce platform will offer the same functionalities or cope with the specificities of every business. It’s also worth taking into account the design and intuitive use of the platform, which have a huge impact on the customer experience. Among the opinions of our clients this is what distinguishes our platform from the competition – adds Sebastian Religa.
According to Saly S.A. interest in their product is constantly growing. Since the beginning of the year, we can talk about even 30 percent. more clients than last year.
There are many indications that a significant portion of B2B customers appreciate digital shopping. In the context of the future, their transition to the online channel will allow, for example, a more efficient and effective analysis of their behavior.
– In order to adjust sales in the e-commerce channel to the requirements of B2B, it is necessary to introduce appropriate form of payment with deferred terms and insurance of receivables. For large products, it’s also important to introduce other forms of delivery. Also important is the ability to negotiate prices, purchase at net prices for intra-community deliveries, perhaps enter into an online contract for ongoing deliveries, etc. I see great potential in the development of B2B e-commerce, so we plan to consistently develop this sales channel – says Krzysztof Rusin from MAZOP company.
And what innovations will drive B2B online shopping in the coming years? Mentioned earlier among the 61 percent. E-consumers’ frustration with the lack of functionality on B2B sites shows that retailers should place an emphasis on optimizing the user experience, which will also bring them significant business benefits. For technologies that do well in B2C commerce, respondents believe that B2B commerce should benefit from Augmented Reality (AR). A fifth of respondents indicated that tools such as QR codes and scanning apps could be used to instantly display full product details on a smartphone in a store or warehouse. On the other hand, 17% of respondents. said that they would like to order by voice using intelligent Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants.
Customers and sellers want convenient, modern and, above all, fast ways to buy and sell. It is the digital form that offers so many features valued by customers: shopping at any time of the day, regardless of the sales representative, the ease of doing it, the ability to track an order and check it at any time.