As the business-to-business (B2B) industry continues to evolve, ecommerce has emerged as more than a nice to have — it’s a must-have. The last few years of explosive ecommerce growth have intensified the need for B2B businesses to shift their focus online.
Digital Commerce 360 reports that 42% of distributors say creating a more sophisticated website to better meet customers’ needs is their biggest challenge for the coming year.
How to Determine if a B2B-Trend Makes Sense for You
Not every trend is worth jumping on at the same time, so which should you prioritize first? While some will provide a huge value-add, others might be out of touch with your particular audience or might be too costly to implement for your business to maintain a reasonable ROI.
Knowing what trends will be a good fit for you will often come down to knowing your own customers, vertical, and competitors backwards and forwards. There’s several things you can do to evaluate industry trends and make the right move for your business.
Stay up to date with industry reports and data.
Every industry changes at some point or another, and staying up to date via reports and data can show you where things are headed.
The numbers in these reports often come from original research you can trust, instead of just following the popular word-on-the-street. Plus, when you’re regularly aware of what’s happening in your industry, you’ll get a sense of which trends are worth the effort and which ones can wait.
Assess your customers’ behaviors.
One of the biggest advantages of B2B ecommerce is that you have first-party customer data. In fact, when we spoke to Kees Olthof, the senior manager of consumer experience at Gildan about digital transformation, he emphasized the importance of data and how to use it to gather more information about customer behavior.
“I would say to any other B2B company, when you shift your business online, take the opportunity to become more data-driven. That’s something you can do very well online but not so much offline. Quantitative data is more the “what” that you can get out of your web analytics. On the other hand, the qualitative data is the “why,” which you can learn from onsite surveys and feedback. Then, work on shifting your culture to be open minded and continue to validate your assumptions.”
Ask for feedback from your B2B customers.
Another option is to reach out to customers directly to better understand their pain points and how you can solve them. Getting feedback from current customers can give you insight into trends, help you create more specific plans for the future — and you never know, a customer might even suggest an idea you hadn’t thought of yet.
Evaluate what your competitors are doing.
Take a look at your competitors. Did they jump on a specific trend? If so, how did it work for them? Of course, you don’t have to do everything your competition is doing, but being aware is another way to measure how successful a trend might be for your business.