The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed consumer buying behaviors and accelerated the evolution of and shift to digital commerce for businesses globally. In Gartner’s latest report, “Predicts 2021: COVID-19 Drives Accelerated Shift to Digital and Commerce Model Evolution” they discuss how these new behaviors will impact the market and re-shape the commerce strategy of organizations worldwide over the next few years.
Uncertainty around the virus has kept the doors to traditional brick-and-mortar stores shut for most of the past year, forcing buyers and sellers alike to adopt new digital purchasing pathways, both in-store and online.
Mobile self-checkout and curbside pickup are just a couple of examples of recent contactless shopping trends that have become the norm. Once COVID starts to dissipate and every-day life returns to normal, Gartner predicts many consumers will continue to leverage these new digital shopping methods due to the ease of use and convenience they offer.
This makes it more important than ever for both B2B and B2C businesses to invest in digital commerce and diversify their go-to-market strategies. Those that leverage an array of digital touchpoints like social networks, expand their revenue sources, and incorporate contactless and cashless payment options for customers will stay competitive, continue to grow, and sustain market share.
Is your business set up to take advantage of these trends? In our digital-first world, your success depends on it.
Keep reading below to uncover the top 5 trends Gartner predicts will permeate the market and transform digital commerce.
Evolution of the B2B Commerce Experience:
Gartner prediction: “By 2024, 15% of B2B organizations will use digital commerce platforms to support both its customers and sales reps in all sales activities.”
Today’s shopper, specifically millennials, prefer self-service buying methods and are increasingly replacing baby-boomers as primary buyers. Prior to the pandemic, many B2B businesses still relied heavily on non-digital interactions for selling, particularly those that involved sales representatives.
With the increased demand for digital commerce and millennial shoppers preferring not to interact with sales reps as part of their buying journey, these organizations will have to rethink their commerce strategy and adjust accordingly.
The idea of a sales rep will not disappear in its entirety, but they now need to be considered as just another purchasing channel available to B2B buyers. This means digital solutions adopted by B2B businesses need to be made available not only to customers, but to their sales force as well and incorporated as part of the sales process.
Diversified Revenue Sources
Gartner prediction: “By 2024, leading commerce organizations will generate 10% of online revenue from services attached to physical products.”
Selling strictly analog products is no longer enough. Increased demands from customers for a more seamless and effortless shopping experience means businesses will need to find additional methods to add value to their buyer’s journey and generate more revenue through new digital capabilities.
This could mean offering tiered subscription-based plans, auto-replenishment (think Amazon’s Dash), or predictive maintenance, a service attached to a physical product (think Tesla’s car service), to name a few.
Which solutions you should look to build and implement will depend on your organization’s goals and priorities, level of expertise, and readiness to transform your business.
Some of these solutions are easier to implement than others, but Gartner anticipates that businesses will have to develop and maintain different revenue sources to ensure business resilience and increased growth.
Expanded Digital Go-To-Market Approaches
Gartner prediction: “By 2022, organizations using multiple go-to-market approaches for digital commerce will outperform noncommerce organizations by 30 percentage points in sales growth.”
Digital commerce is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ and breaking into the digital space will no longer guarantee success or increased revenue. Businesses everywhere have had to rapidly evolve their digital strategy as a result of COIVD-19 and in order to stay ahead of competitors, must now leverage multiple go-to-market approaches.
This could include direct-to-customer (DTC) channels such as your own website or app, an online marketplace like Amazon, or social channels like Facebook.
Companies that tap into the vast array of consumer touchpoints available today will have the advantage over the businesses that don’t, including those in the B2B space. Many of these channels cater to B2C companies however, so it’s important you evaluate what solutions and channels will be the best fit for your business.
Gartner prediction: “By 2023, 30% of enterprise marketplaces will transition into a majority third-party seller model for better profitability.”
Enterprise marketplaces – online marketplaces operated by traditional businesses that invite third-party sellers to directly sell to end consumers – have been increasingly adopted by both B2C and B2B companies over the past few years. These marketplaces offer a number of benefits including better engagement for both the buyer and the seller, increased customer loyalty, a more efficient purchasing process, and different and increased revenue channels.
This trend has only been fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gartner predicts that customers, looking for ease and efficiency in their purchasing process, will continue to expect that any given product or service they’re looking for, might be offered and delivered by a third-party provider.
For the companies that do opt to launch an enterprise marketplace, there are a number of new steps and models to take into consideration for your business. See more of what Gartner recommends here.
Cashless Forms Of Payment Will Become Increasingly Adopted
Gartner prediction: “By 2023, five countries will have launched digitization initiatives aimed at eliminating cash from circulation.”
COVID-19 has pushed non-cash and contactless forms of payment into the spotlight. In Gartner’s recent report, they reference a recent study from Visa that found, “78% of global consumers have adjusted the way they pay for items in the wake of intensified safety concerns.”
This trend, along with the others we’ve discussed so far, is anticipated to stick well after the wake of COVID-19 given the convince it offers customers and the benefits it offers governments and financial institutions. Contactless forms of payment, like the Scan-and-go technology implemented by New York-based grocer Westmarket, are faster, safer, more cost-effective, and traceable.
The point at which digital currency outpaces cash is rapidly approaching, accelerated by COVID, and will eventually be the daily-standard. To appeal to customers and better align with their payment expectations, businesses need to build and implement digital payment methods.
Gartner predicts, “Businesses that support and encourage digital commerce and digital payment will see faster growth and increasing market share compared with those that do not.”
COVID-19 has accelerated the evolution of digital commerce and its adoption among businesses world-wide. It’s no longer just a channel, but rather a necessity for businesses looking to maintain revenue streams and stay competitive
To keep up with changing customer demands, businesses leaders will have to adapt quickly and lead the evolution within their organizations.
Get the full report here for a deeper dive into Gartner’s key findings, the implications of today’s new buying behaviors, and the analyst’s recommendations for businesses looking to stand out in a rapidly evolving digital world.
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