From B2B to B2C online retail and wholesale activities to starting your own digital sales business, we bring you the latest e-commerce trends and tips for 2021.
B2B E-commerce trends to watch out for in 2021
With the advent of technology, B2B buyers are now looking for the same offline experience they are used to in an online environment. According to the 2019 FPX Digital Transformation Study, 58% of respondents engaged in a digital transformation cited providing a better buying experience for customers as a key goal.
Many organizations are realizing that the best way for technology to deliver the ROI is to drive sales by improving the customer experience instead of focusing only on internal restructuring or operational improvement.
Igor Nikolenko, Co-founder & CEO of SupplyMe, a new online B2B marketplace that connects local food suppliers with restaurants, hotels, cafes, supermarkets, and other foodservice businesses of all sizes, discusses the top emerging trends in B2B e-commerce for 2021 and beyond.
Trend 1 – The need for efficiency
Statista predicts that mobile e-commerce sales will account for 73% of worldwide e-commerce sales in 2021. Achieving operational efficiency and delivering a better consumer experience is a primary objective when it comes to digital transformation and AI-led automation.
Trend 2 – The demand for digital-first commerce
Technology is an integral part of everyday life for millennials. With priorities being reinvented in 2020 and the millennial generation taking over executive-level realms at companies, brands looking to do business with them are trying to understand their habits and interact with them using channels they are present on.
Some 42% of millennials use real-time messaging and social media while at work. This means that, as B2B buyers, they favor omnichannel communication methods for quick and instantly gratifying information.
According to 2020 research by McKinsey & Company, more than 75% of B2B buyers say that they prefer purchasing online and prefer remote interactions with sales representatives over the traditional in-person interactions.
Trend 3 – The e-commerce evolution
It is essential for B2B suppliers to deliver the content, features, and experiences that their buyers experience and enjoy from their daily lives as B2C consumers. Forrester predicts that by 2023, B2B e-commerce will hit $1.8 trillion.
Creating added-value via B2B sales does not always mean offering lower prices. It means optimizing the entire experience from research to delivery. A B2B e-commerce mobile app with the right B2B features can help brands just do that. The app can help businesses to tap into new and difficult-to-reach markets, prioritize customer service, lower operating costs, and increase the bottom line.
For buyers, it can provide a seamless platform for ordering, payment, confirmation, shipping, and tracking and in doing so, saves a significant amount of time.
TikTok and GenZ e-commerce
TikTok is rolling out new e-commerce and advertising capabilities.
TikTok is planning new features akin to Instagram and Facebook, including self-service advertising, affiliate links (influencers make money on brands they promote), and in-app brand catalogs, the company confirmed to Vogue Business, following a Financial Times report. The shift could spell an opportunity for fashion brands to capture the app’s 1 billion monthly active users, a largely Gen Z cohort.
E-commerce and the warehousing boom
Big investors are pouring money into warehouses as online shopping for goods takes off in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
E-commerce was already growing before the emergence of COVID-19 forced people to stay home and storefronts to close.
Now, the pandemic has likely sped up the pace of e-commerce adoption by about 12 months, real estate consultancy Savills said in a December report citing the Centre for Retail Research.
Businesses wanting to take advantage of the trend of finding ways to fulfill orders more quickly are facing a shortage of shipping containers, resulting in high delivery costs and long wait times.
The new strategy is finding warehouses near customers and stocking them ahead of time, so shoppers can get their orders in just a few days or less.
Big companies like Amazon are also on a buying spree to get the best warehouse distribution centers around big cities globally.
The company cited rapid growth in cross-border e-commerce as contributing to a 51% year-on-year surge in Cainiao’s revenue to $1.74 billion in the last three months of 2020.
E-commerce in the Middle East
Adobe’s recent Digital Economy Index showed that e-commerce expenditure in the Middle East exceeded expectations by more than $52 billion since the lockdown began in March. Total online spending hit $82.5 billion in May alone; up 77% year-on-year. The UAE, in particular, witnessed an incredible 300% rise in consumer demand recorded for e-commerce services in the first five months of the year.
Breaking into the e-commerce business
A study by McKinsey outlines three distinct routes to market for those looking to build an online presence.
By far the fastest way to enter the online sales sphere is through social media, which can be leveraged to create new touchpoints with existing customers and attract new customers.
Also, effective and requiring minimal investment is taking advantage of existing virtual online marketplaces. Although the commissions are to be taken into account, the customer reach is vast and can provide a relatively quick and simple way to get started without the initial outlay for a full-blown e-commerce platform.
Finally, the study estimates that a company could be fully set up for online sales with an integrated e-commerce solution, end-to-end operations, standardized product-assortment processes, and multichannel marketing within 3 months.