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A (Brief) Time Out to Assess B2B eCommerce’s Rapid Evolution

B2B marketplace

Lessons on Trust, Choices and Payments  

The pace of digital transformation was so exuberant in 2020 that even the acceleration of B2B eCommerce sped up as the year prog

The huge surge in B2B eCommerce was not a surprising consequence of the global pandemic, but the impact of COVID-19 on digital transformation was less predictable.  

McKinsey reported the adoption of digital capabilities by business jumped ahead five years during the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The consulting firm examined how the pandemic pushed companies past the technology tipping point. Their report indicated that business leaders reported advancing their digital transformation efforts and omnichannel strategies ahead “20 to 25 times faster” than they previously thought possible.   

A Strong Foundation Supports Soaring Growth for the B2B Marketplace

Similar speeds and shifts defined the adoption of the B2B marketplace and related B2B payments improvements during the past 12 months.   
 
Global B2B marketplace sales are expected to generate $3.6 trillion in 2024, up from approximately $680 billion in 2018. 

Regardless of how fast your B2B eCommerce capabilities and omnichannel strategies are evolving, it is important to recognise what is happening. Theintense burst of innovation in the last couple of years is fundamentally changing the B2B eCommerce and customer expectations of the payment experience.   

If you operate in the B2B eCommerce ecosystem, you’ll be aware of emerging trends such as the massive growth of B2B marketplaces and the importance of delivering an excellent customer experience.  
 
There are number of similarly important changes and insights that have not received as much attention. 

These insights include: 

Omnichannel Strategies Reveal: B2C eCommerce is not the best model for B2B eCommerce

A certain massive B2C online marketplace has raised the bar for customer expectations. Amazon created the blueprint for exceeding customer expectations based on convenience, speed and price.  
 
These heightened expectations are transferring over into the B2B realm, as can be seen as part of the rise of the B2B marketplace.  

Some of the newest and most valuable learnings concerning B2B eCommerce are coming from companies that are addressing the distinctive challenges of B2B eCommerce on a daily basis. 
 
Organisations that have made the greatest achievements in their B2B eCommerce journeys have done so by solving problems and sources of friction throughout their procure-to-pay cycle.   

Trust also needs to be digitalized

All transactions depend on trust to some extent, but B2B transactions tend to require a little more.  
 
A company purchasing bearings to make the landing gear for aeroplanes must trust that the product meets its quality specifications. Similarly, sellers offering trade credit need to trust assessments of their buyers’ creditworthiness.  

For decades, trust was largely established and sustained through in-person interactions; now it must be established and fostered virtually – without hindering the customer experience.  
 
These expectations demand that buyers find new ways to build trust into their digital capabilities – and B2B marketplaces need the tools and capabilities to effectively vouch for the participants that transact on their platforms.   

Everyone wants options

As the B2C eCommerce revolution has shown, and further omnichannel strategies have revealed, buyers love choices.  
 
But they’re not alone when it comes to B2B online transactions. Sellers need to be selective about the organisations to whom they offer trade credit.  

Buyers want options for how sellers share purchasing data with them to drive internal decisions regarding sourcing, pricing, discounts and accounting treatments.  
 
Marketplace providers want technology partners whose specialised solutions ultimately increase trust and reduce friction. And both buyers and sellers have ample reasons to welcome payments options beyond credit cards.  

While credit cards are well-suited for infrequent, unexpected and/or low-volume purchases, trade credit is a more attractive payment option for higher-volume buying and repeat purchasing activity.  

 If the last two decades are any indication, the evolution of B2B eCommerce, and the B2B marketplace, will continue long after this recent surge of adoption, innovation and insights.  
 
Buyers, sellers and B2C and B2B marketplace providers that leverage today’s rich learning opportunities are most likely to be thriving two decades from now. 

For more insights on B2B eCommerce payments options and leading practices, read the 2021 Edition of our Choices at Checkout white paper.

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