1. Increase in the number of sales channels available
Consumer and B2B buying habits are evolving rapidly. In addition to the conventional channels like email, social media, apps, search engines, webshops, and advertising, there is a growing presence of new technologies and internet-connected devices. Live chat, video conferencing, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and voice interactions are increasingly integrated into the customer journeys of specific industries and markets. For instance, voice-enabled car commerce is gaining traction. McKinsey reports that B2B customers are engaging with suppliers through ten or more channels.
2. Orchestrating channels is essential for achieving an omnichannel approach
According to McKinsey, companies that expand their sales across multiple channels are likely to have gained market share in 2021. However, mere presence on these channels is insufficient. It is crucial to provide a seamless experience that goes beyond individual channels by recognizing the customer and their specific stage in the customer journey. To achieve this, data must flow between channels, enabling a comprehensive customer view and enabling personalized experiences throughout the journey.
3. Achieving B2B personalization is crucial, yet challenging
Research indicates that investing in B2B personalization is a strategic business decision. According to Business Wire, 77% of B2B marketers believe that personalization enhances customer relationships. However, creating meaningful and tailored human experiences is a complex task. A survey conducted by Folloze revealed that 42% of B2B sales and marketing professionals acknowledge their marketing efforts lack full personalization, with only 39% considering their current personalization somewhat sophisticated. This is particularly evident in the gap between personalizing emails and taking personalization to the next level, such as implementing tiered pricing, optimizing product search, and providing personalized recommendations. Many organizations are uncertain about the subsequent steps required to advance their initial personalization efforts.
4. Composable architecture empowers adaptability and flexibility
The IT architecture forms the basis for the B2B customer experience. Evolving customer expectations necessitate organizational flexibility and agility. The rise in mobile usage prompted the adoption of a headless architecture, separating the front and back ends to enhance the mobile experience. With the increasing impact of sales channels on branding, content management, and product management, there is growing interest in composable architecture. The composable approach involves breaking down components into business functionalities that can be easily combined to create a distinctive commerce experience that sets your brand apart.
5. Marketplaces for extra reach
B2B is quickly catching up to B2C in embracing marketplace selling. Participating in third-party marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba provides extensive reach and enables direct-to-consumer (D2C) opportunities. As per Digital Commerce 360, B2B marketplaces are projected to represent 30% of global B2B e-commerce by 2024. Effective management and optimization of product and customer data are vital for succeeding in marketplaces. Establishing either a private B2B platform for relationships or a public marketplace offers a strong competitive edge but also entails certain challenges.
6. Advertising gets more challenging
The impending demise of the cookie raises the question of establishing marketplaces, as reaching a broader audience becomes more appealing. Privacy regulations like the European GDPR restrict the unintentional tracking of customers, collection of personal data, and creation of profiles. Additionally, Google's plan to phase out third-party cookies in Google Chrome by 2024 adds complexity to tracking the impact of advertising across the entire customer journey. The solution lies in prioritizing first-party data, which refers to customer data obtained from interactions on your own channels. However, before customers willingly share their personal data, they expect something in return.
7. The B2B client relationship is being changed
The primary obstacle lies in understanding the preferred buying behavior of B2B customers and the desired selling approach of sellers. B2B buyers now expect a similar level of convenience, personalized experience, and multiple channels as they have experienced in B2C. In response, many B2B companies have embraced digital solutions such as dynamic pricing, price negotiation options, subscription services, and digital self-service. Surprisingly, over 90% of B2B companies state that their new go-to-market model is as effective as or even more effective than their pre-pandemic model. However, B2B buyers also seek a combination of both digital convenience and an emotional connection that can transform transactions into long-lasting relationships. Therefore, a new hybrid approach that harmoniously combines technology and personal touch is crucial for nurturing enduring loyalty.