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Published Article

B2B ecommerce trends that matter

Inxeption Editorial Team | Published 1-15-2020 | Modified 11-5-2020

In 2017, a Frost and Sullivan study projected that B2B ecommerce will hit $12 trillion in worldwide sales by 2020. It is important as a B2B business that you are aware of and are actively pursuing technologies that allow you to stay ahead of the curve and compete with other online businesses.

Some of the main pressures to getting online come from competition, procurement, and increasing popularity of online commerce channels to sell to new and varied markets. B2B companies are coming online in higher velocity, forcing an expectation of sellers, who may natively not be online to move online. Procurement transactions are shifting to the internet from EDI (electronic data interchange). There’s a growing interest and expectation of B2B customers to place orders through desktop and mobile commerce devices, and, there’s been an increase in popularity and market share of online marketplaces.

In this article we break down the main trends to watch out for if you are starting a B2B ecommerce business or own one, and some actionable steps you can take to improve your chances of success.

1. B2B buyers are using search engines.

B2B searchers will do an average of 12 searches before deciding on a brand’s site. It is more important than ever to have a B2B ecommerce store for your site. Driving traffic to your site and creating brand awareness around your products is necessary for buyers to find you. And, yes, even your customers are using the internet. According to a study by Google, 89% of B2B searchers will use the internet when doing research, and 73% of them will not go past the first page of Google (making it that much more important that your brand shows up high in the search engine results).

What you can do:

  1. Pay special attention to your target keywords and long tail (more than three words) keywords in your overall ecommerce marketing strategy.
  2. Internal linking and meta descriptions on your site will also impact whether you rank higher.
  3. While your email list will grow with traffic, it can also impact your overall ecommerce SEO.
  4. The web designers and user experience you choose will determine whether your users enjoy a customer experience of your ecommerce website design that makes them want you in high demand.

Google and other major search engines pay attention to usability and reliability as much as keywords. Aim for the whole package.

2. B2B buyers expect the same ecommerce experience that they get with B2C.

According to Oracle’s B2B Ecommerce Trends Study, 80% of B2B companies believe that their customers expectations around the B2B process have changed as a result of changing business to consumer (B2C) practices. You should have an ecommerce presence for your business that makes it as easy to research, navigate, and purchase as a B2C site (keeping in mind how business buyers buy).

What you can do:

  1. Make your site easy to navigate.
  2. Make payment processing as seamless as possible, including the options that are more common for B2B transactions, like purchase orders, financing and more.

According to a study by Digital Commerce 360, 69% of businesses say they plan to stop printing a catalog within five years because they are instead transitioning to online commerce. Regardless of whether you choose to keep your print catalog, you should plan to be online as well. It’s the way the competition is selling, and the way that business buyers are buying. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. Inxeption’s product digitization tools can help you get your catalog online in a matter of hours.

What you can do:

  1. Look into B2B selling platforms that work for what you are selling.
  2. Determine what other resources you need. Fulfillment, logistics, supply chain management and more - these solutions will help to make the transition to online easier for business to business companies.

4. B2B buyers have multiple decision makers.

According to Oracle’s B2B Ecommerce Trends Study, 70% of B2B purchase decisions include two or more decision makers. You need to understand your audience and who the main decision makers are that are evaluating your offer. Is it the head of purchasing, a warehouse manager, a CFO or CEO, or someone else?

What you can do:

  1. Cater your branding and the experience of your website to make it as easy as possible for this person to understand what you are offering.
  2. Advertise accordingly. Advertising tools offer you the ability to segment based on demographics, and some channels like Linkedin Advertising even allow you to target specifically on title of a member of a company, so you can get your branding in front of the correct people.

It’s important to keep in mind the supporting players who influence the decision to use your product. According to a study by Google, 81% of non C-suiters also have say in purchase decisions.

5. Buyers want research and information to be as easy as possible to find.

According to a Hubspot study, 76% of customers say that the most important factor of website design is a user experience that makes it easy for them to find what they want, and 48% of B2B sellers citing enhanced search as a top tech priority, to accomodate for the 76% of B2B buyers that listed enhanced search as one of their top three features. Design and UX (user experience) matters.

What you can do:

  1. Think about your target customer and how they buy. What information do they need and in what order? Provide this information to them in the experience and navigation of your website.
  2. Be specific in your offers to get people to the right place, and make sure the copy is simple and the breadcrumb structure is easy to follow.
  3. Focus on enhanced search and usability throughout your website.

6. The buying experience should feel personal.

A study done by Accenture found that 50% of B2B buyers identified personalization as being a key feature for suppliers they would want to work with. The buying experience on any commerce website should be personal and optimized with ways to answer potential customers questions.

What you can do:

  1. Get set up with live chat or the ability to contact a representative easily.
  2. Have a rich FAQ section that is easy to find.
  3. Try recommendations based on past purchases, associated items a user might need based on what is already in their cart, etc. to make the holistic buying experience as easy as possible.
  4. You can even offer the best selling products or upsell/cross-sell services in your online cart experience.

7. Subscription ecommerce matters for B2B

A McKinsey 2018 study found that subscription ecommerce has grown more than 100% each year for the past 5 years. Unlike B2C, many B2B buyers want relationships with their suppliers/wholesalers they purchase from, and purchase the same or different products multiple times. Because of this, it’s important to use payment processing engines and payment types that accommodate well for recurring payments.

What you can do:

  1. Find an ecommerce platform or ecommerce transaction engine that is robust enough for what your business needs. The Inxeption platform and Inxeption Cart makes it easy for B2B businesses to sell and ship to customers online, and manage all aspects of their business lifecycle.

8. Customer engagement is as important for B2B as it is for B2C.

B2B customers need engagement and nurturing like B2C buyers do. Keep in mind the importance of email marketing, abandoned cart emails, and outreach to encourage potential customers as well as existing customers to get involved in what you have to offer.

9. B2B buyers are also social.

A study done by Callidus Cloud found that 75% of b2b buyers are influenced by social. Unlike traditional B2B sales practices in the past, B2B buyers of today are much more self sufficient, and don’t require hand holding to complete a B2B purchase online.

What you can do:

  1. Social presences are important. Make sure your business has optimized social channels that demonstrate your brand authority and brand personality.
  2. Figure out where your buyers spend time online - advertise in these places.
  3. Advertise on social and use integrated social selling tools like Likedin Lead Gen Forms or purchase capabilities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

10. B2B buyers want integration.

According to Digital Commerce 360, integration with an ERP system is a key initiative for 60% of B2B executives. Consider B2B selling platforms that will allow you to integrate and grow easily, like Inxeption.

11. AI is happening.

Artificial intelligence, voice search and more have become more important in recent years, and will continue to grow alongside commerce. Make sure your website is optimized for voice search to improve its ranking in search and make it easier for customers to find you when searching for specific keywords.

What you can do:

  1. Besides optimizing your copy for voice search with question and answer format, think about AI assistants and chat bots that still provide a personalized experience. AI assistants can handle a number of tasks that a human might usually do, like managing inventory or handling customer inquiries.

12. Mobile matters for B2B, too.

A Global Web Index 2018 study found that from 2016-2018, mobile payments increased 37%, with no sign of slowing down, so make sure your site is optimized for mobile. The increasing use of mobile payments shows an increased interest in conducting payments on the fly, and if your site isn’t optimized and ready for mobile your business could be left behind.

Where does Inxeption fit in?

Inxeption’s team of growth experts can help you to optimize your website for new customers, and to sell more to existing customers. Inxeption is a secure and scalable platform that brings business the ease of consumer e-commerce. From one digital dashboard you can drive sales, manage your supply chain, and realize cost savings.