B2B eCommerce has rapidly been changing over the past few years, and 2021 is no exception. With the disruption of COVID-19, new trends have emerged and the eCommerce landscape is transforming. B2B companies are implementing new strategies to adapt to the technological changes and take advantage of cloud-based technology, Headless Commerce, and progressive web applications (PWAs). Below are some of the major Technology-Driven B2B eCommerce trends of 2021, as well as some key calls to action for B2Bs to optimize their eCommerce strategy.
The spread of cloud computing and cloud-based eCommerce has continued to grow, with many businesses migrating ERPs to the cloud to adjust to the disruptions of the pandemic. Cloud eCommerce solutions have helped brands to discover new cybersecurity technologies, leverage analytics, utilize big data, and take advantage of developments in the internet of things (IoT).
Key data shows that:
- 30% of all IT budgets are allocated to Cloud computing, with 94% of enterprises already using Cloud services (Source)
- 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020, and the public Cloud service market is expected to reach $623.3 billion by 2023 (Source)
- 50% of enterprises spend more than $1.2 million on Cloud services annually (Source)
- More than $1.3 trillion in IT spending will be affected by the shift to the Cloud by 2022 (Source)
- 66% of enterprises have a central Cloud team or Cloud center of excellence (Source)
ECommerce solutions presented by the Cloud are also touted for their ease of deployment, scalability, and lower costs of ownership. Some of the key benefits offered by cloud computing to B2B organizations’ eCommerce efforts include:
- Enhanced cybersecurity: With the evolving relationships between clients and Cloud Service providers such as AWS, Google, and Microsoft, both parties are responsible for separate aspects of cloud security. Bot detection, fraud protection, and endpoint detection and response (EDR) technologies have all grown, implementing real-time detection and automated response tools to maximize cybersecurity.
- Scalability and flexibility: Migrating an eCommerce system to the cloud provides a highly scalable environment, empowering B2B businesses to respond to market fluctuations. Businesses can take advantage of the cloud to meet changes in demand and adapt to new scenarios with speed, flexibility, and precision.
Rather than installing new servers and experiencing development or implementation costs, organizations can modify capacity based on traffic, demand, and changing opportunities.
- Removing maintenance and risks: With The Cloud, B2B businesses can run their eCommerce software in a safe external data center, with both hardware and software being monitored and maintained.
Working with a Cloud Service provider mitigates risk and shares responsibility. In addition to improving cybersecurity, B2Bs can reduce maintenance costs and avoid allocating resources towards uptime, back-ups, datacenter facilities, and data privacy.
- Growing digital sales channels: More and more B2B companies are becoming highly dependent on digital sales channels, as emphasized by new market-driven trends. With COVID- 19, digital sales channels have become increasingly important to B2B sellers, and migrating eCommerce to a cloud-based system enables firms to reallocate resources towards digital sales channels and adaptive digital practices instead.
With headless technology, the data, business logic, and commerce engine are de-coupled from the front-end storefront. This “headless” architecture offers B2B organizations increased freedom, flexibility, and customization to develop unique front-end interfaces across multiple devices, simultaneously removing the constraints of back-end systems.
Key data shows:
- 61% of retailers claimed to leverage Headless commerce in 2020 (Source)
- Approximately 80% of respondents to a Gartner survey claimed to either already use or made plans to use Headless Commerce or API-based architecture
- Page load times showed a 50% to 83% decrease in load time when a Headless architecture was used
With Headless Commerce, developers can extend commerce functionalities across digital touchpoints, such as mobile applications and the Internet of Things (IoT).
B2B manufacturers have taken advantage of Headless Solutions to provide improved customer experiences; they are creating fast and frictionless digital interfaces while distinguishing themselves from competitors through expedited internal innovation processes.
With a headless architecture, B2B brands can deliver API-driven experiences using CMS, DXP, or custom front-end. In addition to the high flexibility, B2Bs are able to implement highly complex commerce requirements while saving time and maximizing their resources, avoiding issues related to development and back-end management without compromising on their overall vision.
With the high demand for personalized experiences, B2Bs are using Headless commerce to discover and capitalize on new personalization opportunities, finding new ways to leverage less traditional forms of purchasing. Some of the key advantages of a Headless approach include:
- Faster loading times on webpages: Approximately 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if the webpage takes more than 3 seconds to load, with a 2-second delay resulting in the abandonment rate rising up to 87%.
With Headless Commerce, the de-coupling of the front and- back-end functionalities results in customers having a far smoother and frictionless user experience, with less performance issues and enhanced speed.
- Unique, custom front-end design: Headless Commerce enables firms to customize the storefront on a strong taxonomy structure with rich product information. By de-coupling the front-and-back-end functionalities, B2Bs can ensure that their customers are presented a well-designed, sleek, and visually aesthetic site.
Using further functionalities presented by a Headless architecture can empower self-service capabilities and ensure that users can avoid complex, layered structures.
- Consistency and Quality: Headless Commerce helps to reduce the loading time on product content from the back-end to the front-end. If information is stored in a PIM, poor optimization and inconsistent displays are avoided even further.
Content can be modified and improved in bulk, formatting can be achieved with greater ease, and customization is bolstered. This helps create a greater level of consistency without requiring a comprise in quality, which can be particularly crucial for brands looking to scale, add new products, add new sales channels, or make major changes to their digital storefronts.
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Progressive Web Applications:
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) have emerged as a method for eCommerce businesses to provide their customers improved digital experiences. By using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs), eCommerce companies have enjoyed better page load times, engagement, and conversion rates.
With the rise of mobile users and more than 50% of online traffic coming from mobile devices, improving user experience is the key to B2B companies bridging the gap between web experiences and mobile app functionality. PWAs have been touted for their high reliability, speed, and user engagement.
Here are some key statistics that illustrate the power of PWAs:
- PWAs have 36% higher conversion rates than native apps (Source)
- PWAs register 50% higher customer and user engagement (Source)
- Businesses that have switched to PWAs have noticed a decrease in page loading speed of up to 10 times
- PWAs cost 3-4 times less than native mobile apps (Source)
- PWAs cost 33% less to maintain (Source)
- PWAs have an average bounce rate of just 42.86% (Source)
By caching key resources and using service workers, PWAs can load instantly and meet buyers’ expectations for seamless and quick responses, all while providing a visual and immersive interface.
Web-based PWAs can also be more easily discovered with SEO, ranked by search engines such as Bing and Google. In 2021, more and more B2B firms took advantage of PWAs to improve the search engine performance of their websites, and Gartner predicts that PWAs will only continue to rise in popularity.
Some of the key benefits of PWAs for B2Bs include:
- Increased mobile traffic: Given the higher conversion rates, increased user engagement, and reduced bounce rates, PWAs have proven extremely effective in driving increased mobile traffic towards websites. This is key for B2Bs seeking to increase mobile engagement and take advantage of the increasing mobile usage demonstrated by the market.
- Decreased development costs: A single PWA can meet the requirements of all endpoints that it operates on, significantly reducing the effort, time, and cost associated with development. Despite this, PWAs also involve a shorter and simpler installation process, and can be customized to provide responsive and visually appealing user experiences.
- Improved performance: By caching and serving text, images, and rich content, PWAs improve efficiency and can operate like websites with better running speeds and load times. B2Bs stand to benefit by adopting PWAs, as they provide an improved user experience that translates to higher retention and lower bounce rates.
This, combined with seamless offline operation, no issues with updating, and flexibility across endpoints makes PWAs an extremely efficient and effective alternative to native mobile apps.
2021 and Beyond:
B2B eCommerce showcased new opportunities and high growth in 2021. These are just some of the technology-driven trends that represent how B2B companies are adapting to the changes caused by COVID-19, providing customers with fresh digital experiences, and leveraging new technology to deliver on buyers’ expectations.
Check out our blog on the top Market- Driven B2B eCommerce Trends of 2021 to learn more about how 2021 has solidified B2B eCommerce in various industries and how B2Bs can form a new path forward.