E-Commerce

E-commerce trends you need to know about

Fatih-Kağan Taşkoparan

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How has the behavior of B2B buyers changed in the last two years, and what are the consequences for you as an e-commerce entrepreneur? These were the central questions of the recently published Study by Sana Commercewhich was conducted online in August 2021 with more than 1,200 B2B buyers worldwide. Participants were asked about their expectations and challenges in purchasing as well as their feedback on existing opportunities.

The results are extremely exciting, if not entirely unexpected. And they show what you need to pay attention to as a B2B entrepreneur in order to react correctly to a rapidly changing environment and thus remain successful in the future.

1. the changes in the e-commerce market

One thing has become abundantly clear: Extensive changes occurred on many levels in the period from 2020 to 2022: The pandemic was and is a massive driver of fundamental transformation processes.

However, the effects of the pandemic are actually part of a whole series of megatrends that have been influencing the environment for your e-commerce company for years. Covid has only accelerated this change.

But what exactly are megatrends?

Megatrends are macroeconomic and social change processes with a global impact that shape the world sustainably and change it in the long term. Megatrends influence us all, as they bring about comprehensive social developments and challenges - but also opportunities.

There are many megatrends. These extend to all levels of our society and economy. They include the "female shift", the "silver society" and "new work". The study names three megatrends that are relevant in this context and also influence your e-commerce.

Connectivity

One of the main trends affecting you as an e-commerce entrepreneur is the ongoing digitalization. The pandemic has massively accelerated this trend. In concrete terms, this means that your buyers are placing increased demands on the digital ordering environment.

Generation change

The changing demands on the ordering process are also strongly driven by the new generation of millennial shoppers. They have grown up in a digital environment, feel at home in it and expect to be able to operate online in their jobs too.

Globalization

Advancing globalization offers your customers completely new opportunities and markets. The circle of your competitors is growing, and buyers are no longer tied to specific locations.

2. the most interesting figures from the study

The key findings of the study clearly show that the pandemic and the parallel megatrends are driving a change that is leading to a boom in B2B online retail.

  • The volume of online purchases is 45 percent higher than two years ago.
  • Two years ago, only 28% of respondents regularly used e-commerce for procurement. Today, the figure is already over 50 percent. This means that e-commerce has become the No. 1 procurement tool in the B2B sector, ahead of email and telephone.
  • 75% of all products are now purchased online. In 2019, this figure was just under 60%.
  • A company's online presence is increasingly being used not only for transactional purposes, i.e. to place orders, but also to obtain information about products and suppliers. Around 90 percent of buyers find new suppliers online, and more than 80 percent also use the internet to place repeat orders.

3. opportunities and risks for your e-commerce store

All these figures clearly show that the sales potential for e-commerce companies has increased enormously. Of course, increased opportunities are also accompanied by certain risks.

The study shows impressively:

As already made clear in our article on brand strategy: Customers' trust and relationship with you and your brand have a direct impact on the success of your company.

The study also provides some remarkable figures on this:

  • For 80 percent of customers, the relationship with suppliers is important to very important.
  • As a result, 84 percent of buyers prefer to order from a company with which they have a good relationship - even if the conditions are less favorable than those of the competition.

How can e-commerce operators meet such customer expectations and maintain long-term relationships? What is needed here is a vigilant awareness of the problem and solution-oriented action based on this.

A first step is to listen to your customers. The shoppers surveyed named the following as the most common annoyances when placing e-commerce orders:

  • In general, 94% of respondents described the online experience as inadequate. Specifically, 37 percent mentioned weekly errors and problems when ordering. Problems with delivery also occurred frequently.
  • 50 percent described the websites used as generally inadequate. The main complaints here were factual errors: incorrect data on stock levels or delivery dates and incorrect product information. This leads unnecessarily often to contacts with the customer service department.

This lack of reliability and the associated frustration have consequences:

  • The productivity of buyers is severely impaired.
  • They are annoyed by longer working hours because they have to rectify the faults.
  • The errors lead to an impairment of the supply chain and the subsequent production process.
  • Buyers assume that they contribute to the problems of suppliers through higher product costs.

In view of such fundamental points of criticism, it is hardly surprising that buyers very quickly switch to other providers.

But how can you use the changed environment and increased demands to your advantage, how can you offer customers the best possible shopping experience and thus position yourself positively in relation to your competitors?

By tackling the following challenges:

  1. Your e-commerce store must operate on a suitable platform. There are a lot of options in this area. However, first-generation stores in particular are often no longer up to today's requirements. For example, they usually lack seamless integration with other company systems (ERP), which means they are not scalable.
  2. It may be a conceptual challenge, but you should make even complex products fully accessible via your e-commerce store. Today's customers want to be able to complete their entire purchasing process via a website and not have to pick up the phone for certain products.
  3. The entire purchasing process, the user experience (UX), must be as simple and seamless as possible. Customers appreciate it when they can create accounts so that they can process repeat orders more quickly. You need to identify any stumbling blocks, ask about them or even try them out yourself and finally get them out of the way.

Conclusion

Despite all the trends that will occur in the near or distant future, the latest Sana study clearly shows one thing above all: the relationship with your customers remains the most important point of all - it must always be at the forefront. Every action, every decision on your part must be designed to build trust. And you can achieve this through consistent communication, good service and reliability in all matters.

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