Ecommerce isn’t just for cutting-edge technology businesses, it’s table stakes. This is true across all industries, from fashion to groceries. Businesses are investing in their ecommerce capabilities at breakneck speeds.
B2B is not alone. Retail ecommerce sales are expected to grow to $8.1 trillion by 2026.
So how do you stay competitive in the growing ecommerce space? This article reviews why your growth initiatives need to be top-of-mind and 5 strategies to consider.
Many B2B companies want to digitize analog processes to keep up with the overall shift to online offerings. But the internet is a crowded, competitive space and buyer expectations are evolving — businesses need to implement a comprehensive ecommerce strategy if they want to deliver a successful product and keep up.
As the ecommmerce industry evolved, so too does competition. Competition in the ecommerce space is growing fast. In fact, there are more than 26 million ecommerce sites globally — That's more than double what existed in 2020.
Your ecommerce growth strategies must take this into account: in this outsized arena, where ecommerce is the rule, not the exception, what is your competitive edge? How will you stay ahead of the rest?
Businesses that can’t keep up with the latest cutting-edge technology in ecommerce, like automation and personalization, simply get left behind. But where that technology used to be inaccessible to smaller players, the advent of affordable innovations like AI and 5G allow even small businesses to add new capabilities.
Your ecommerce growth strategies should consider introducing new technology in all areas of your business, from shipping to customer service to operational efficiencies.
Younger demographics are increasingly in the driver’s seat at B2B enterprises. As a result, we see online shopping tendencies and expectations not only impacting retail, but also B2B transactions. For example, young shoppers expect more personalization, faster shipping, and more product availability.
These changing expectations have a big impact: 61% of sellers said they've lost sales because their site search wasn’t good enough, and a similar 59% lost sales because their site experience wasn’t personalized sufficiently for their buyers. Therefore, Successful growth strategies should prioritize finding and fixing any potential friction points for their customers, including optimizing retail prices and reducing delivery costs.
Below are the five strategies to consider for ecommerce growth, including:
What platform do you use to power your ecommerce store? Do you use the latest and best technology, or are you stuck trying to get an old legacy system to meet your new demands? Legacy systems make it challenging or impossible to integrate with new tools, and this rigidity can hold you back and create frustrations as you scale.
At the end of the day, what your customers want and expect needs to dictate your ecommerce growth strategies. Meeting (and exceeding) customer expectations helps build customer loyalty as your ecommerce offerings grow, allowing you to scale with confidence.
The real question then becomes, what do your customers want? Here’s a laundry list of starters:
If you’re not sure which of these apply to you, your best bet is to ask your customers. This can be done through a quick survey, gleaning insights from your customer success and sales team, or diving into the data that’s available to you from your current ecommerce platform. Start where you see the most potential for positive impact.
🔵 Learn more about how to build a better customer experience on your marketplace 🔵
For ecommerce businesses to survive in the long term in this competitive scene, they need to tap into different monetization avenues.
Many companies are leaving money on the table, with ecosystems around their core products that they haven't monetized. With ecommerce, this monetization can take on many forms, like offering subscriptions, building a service directory (and capturing payment on your site), or allowing advertising on your platform.
Take Amazon for example. While the company started as an online bookstore, over the years it has expanded into one of the biggest ecommerce players — partly as a result of monetizing its ecosystem. Rather than stopping at books, they went on to add third-party selling, fulfillment, advertising, AWS, and more— resulting in 112% revenue growth. Amazon saw an opportunity to capture more revenue by offering products and services that aligned with its customers’ needs.
Manual processes require headcount, which means as you scale, so do your workforce and your overhead costs. An effective and efficient ecommerce business manages the increased workload with end-to-end automation. The more streamlined your tech tools, the more automation can save you time, effort, and headcount.
Automation requires a highly integrated technology stack that allows you to link systems across your entire business, including warehouse management, inventory tracking, and order handling.
For example, data from your ERP should be integrated with your commerce system. This single-system approach can also increase visibility into your operations with intelligent analytics, enabling new strategies for greater efficiency.
How do you achieve all of the above without scaling headcount and undertaking a massive amount of risk?
The marketplace model.
The business case for B2B marketplaces is simple: augmenting your existing ecommerce business with a marketplace allows you to expand your business and give your customers what they want while remaining inventory-light. By adding third-party sellers, your business gains greater product assortment and availability without taking on the risk of holding the inventory.
According to a Forrester study commissioned by Nautical, the majority of B2B companies surveyed launched their marketplace project hoping to increase revenue (92%), improve buyer experience (93%), and grow their customer base (91%). The results confirm that launching a marketplace succeeds in meeting these objectives.
After launching marketplaces, the study’s participants experienced an average year-over-year growth in:
Introducing third-party selling also allows you to grow SKU depth. The marketplace strategy inherently expands the number of products or services on your website by engaging vendors that sell periphery and even competing SKUs. This means you can increase your SKU depth without creating those offerings. The greater the range of SKUs you offer, the more sales opportunities you have, and the more likely buyers are to visit your marketplace as a one-stop shop for all their needs.
Another added benefit is better SEO: The more products you have on your website, the more search engines, like Google, will recognize your site as a relevant answer to a searcher's question. By adding more vendors, you’ve increased your digital footprint and reach.
In today’s competitive online landscape, having a solid ecommerce growth strategy is an absolute must. The first logical step is listening to the needs of your customers. What follows will often require adopting new technology — whether it be to automate more manual processes, integrate with new tools, or add third-party selling.
At the end of the day, success depends on keeping up with and outpacing the cutting-edge innovation of your biggest competitors. Check out the Leveraging Multi-Vendor Marketplaces report to learn more about how marketplace platforms can help.
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