The growth of the e-commerce industry is changing the way businesses of all types operate. As younger generations come into leadership positions and begin dictating purchases, traditional models and operational practices are shifting.
This growth and change is most often discussed in terms of B2C e-commerce brands, but B2B businesses are feeling it, too. The B2B e-commerce market in the U.S. reached the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2018 and projections show that the $2 trillion milestone could arrive in just a few years.1 That means B2B shippers will need to stay on top of what’s changing and know when to adjust.
In our recent white paper, The Latest Trends in B2B E-Commerce & Shipping, we dig into actionable learnings to help your B2B business do just that. Here, let’s take a high-level look at some of the key trends and opportunities at play in the market.
Here are the latest developments in the B2B shipping market.
Half of all B2B buyers are millennials.2
This generation has had a huge effect on almost every piece of the economy. Now, they are growing into decision-making roles at businesses and have expectations about what a strong, positive B2B relationship looks like.
What this means for you:
Look to B2C shipping and e-commerce practices for inspiration. Millennials grew up with tailored, targeted and increasingly simple buying and shipping experiences. It is likely that, as B2B buyers, they will look for the same standards and values in the businesses from which they buy.
Smart, connected technology is transforming logistics.
As e-commerce evolves, so too does shipping technology. While autonomous vehicles for shipping are further from adoption, others, like Internet of Things devices, are already being implemented. Gartner predicts there will be around “20 billion internet-connected things by 2020. These ‘things’ are not general-purpose devices, such as smartphones and PCs, but dedicated-function objects, such as vending machines, jet engines, connected cards and a myriad of other examples.”3
These devices can help with tracking, optimization, efficiency and more, and they communicate with each other to make automatic adjustments.
What this means for you:
By using technology to optimize your logistics, you can better scale your B2B shipping business and continue to impress clients with fast, informed deliveries. Find ways to incorporate new technologies to assist in scaling operations and potentially cutting down on costs. We suggest specific tools in our white paper on the topic.
Keep your eyes on these opportunities to continue your business’s growth.
Develop a sustainable omni-channel strategy
Tackling omni-channel sales and distribution is an important step toward minimizing waste and maximizing flexibility. Research shows that many B2B companies plan to use online channels for sales and cut down on other methods.4
Once you open your business up to online channels, prepare your operations to answer the potential demand. Make sure you’re ready to fulfill additional orders by evaluating your network of distribution centers and finding ways to streamline logistics concerns.
Build loyalty with an easy returns process
In the B2C e-commerce world, returns are seen as an invaluable place to build loyalty. Companies that make returns easier, simpler and more convenient for customers can win more repeat sales. This is no different, and may even ring truer, in the B2B world.
When a business needs to send something back, it is most often because of a fault with the product, so it matters how quickly the issue can be resolved. Clearly articulate your return policy to avoid unwelcome surprises. Maintain strong communication with your customer. Make it simple to initiate a return, then proactively share information with your customer about the order’s status.
This high-level peek at some of the defining trends and opportunities in the B2B shipping market can help you see how your company could grow in the e-commerce space. Get a more in-depth and actionable look at the market by downloading our white paper, The Latest Trends in B2B E-Commerce & Shipping.