It’s clear how transformative the last three years have been for the B2B commerce and procurement space. It’s a familiar list: COVID-19, international supply chain disruptions, and worker shortages. All of these have challenged B2B buyers and suppliers to adapt quickly to a rapidly evolving business landscape. In turn, four impactful B2B commerce trends have emerged in 2022, including the strong growth of eCommerce as a B2B sales channel.
For many years, eCommerce was an afterthought for B2B suppliers – but that’s no longer true. According to a recent study from McKinsey & Company, almost two-thirds of B2B suppliers offer eCommerce. The same percentage of B2B buyers prefer digital sales channels if they have a choice, even for larger, high-value orders. eCommerce now equals in-person B2B sales as a revenue driver.
While offering B2B eCommerce has become a necessity, it’s not always sufficient. We’ve had conversations with hundreds of buyers and suppliers across a variety of industries. They tell us time and again that eCommerce is desirable, but what they really want is connected commerce that integrates buyer and supplier systems for streamlined purchasing and procurement automation.
This is the key insight underlying B2B commerce trends in 2022, and the same factors will continue to influence purchasing, technology, and partnership decisions through 2023 and beyond.
1. Purposeful Technology Choices
Digital transformation in B2B commerce has inspired a wave of technological innovation. There are more B2B technologies for companies to choose from than ever before. It’s a competitive field, and B2B companies are looking hard at the ROI of technology solutions before they invest.
They want technologies that drive real value for stakeholders and partners, and that often means connected commerce solutions such as PunchOut, Purchase Order (PO) Automation, and Invoice Automation. Companies prefer solutions that support integration and automation to increase sales and revenue, reduce workloads, streamline processes, and increase accountability.
Connected commerce has a proven track record of giving B2B companies the results they need:
- Cates Control Systems reduced the cost of order placement and management by 88% with a PunchOut catalog system.
- Oriental Trading Co. saw double and triple-digit increases in revenue and items purchased from PunchOut-integrated buyers.
- Corporate Imaging Concepts realized 50% sales increases each year from buyers who purchased via PunchOut catalogs.
2. Real-Time Data Sharing
Buyers and suppliers are moving away from slow, manual procurement processes. They are instead investing in flexible buying and selling processes that allow for real-time updates. The days of customers being happy to pick up the phone for pricing and product availability are long gone as that process is slow and expensive for buyers and suppliers alike.
Instead, buyers expect up-to-date information that can be accessed online, preferably via their internal procurement platform. Only PunchOut catalogs, unlike hosted catalogs, provide this level of real-time information, which is why many suppliers are increasingly opting for more dynamic solutions. Often out of date the minute they’re created, hosted catalogs make dynamic price changes impossible and they must be manually updated and uploaded to buyer eProcurement systems. eCommerce-based PunchOut catalog solutions eliminate these issues.
But PunchOut catalogs are just the tip of the iceberg. Companies are investing in a range of additional procurement integration and automation solutions, creating an end-to-end connected commerce experience with transparent data sharing throughout B2B transactions.
Other solutions include:
- PO Automation to send purchase orders from eProcurement systems to suppliers systems
- Invoice Automation to streamline invoicing
- Three-way matching to streamline and expedite invoice reconciliation
- Advanced Shipping Notices to ensure buyers are automatically kept informed of delivery timelines and details
3. Outsourcing Integration and Automation Solutions
B2B businesses are increasingly willing to outsource integration and automation solutions to achieve connected commerce. Using internal IT resources on B2B eCommerce integrations generates significant financial and opportunity costs. In fact, these costs are one reason B2B suppliers have been slow to offer connected commerce solutions in the past. They’re technically complex and often require custom solutions for buyers using a wide variety of incompatible procurement systems. And, once you have them up and running, the integrations need to be maintained often – which takes more time away from other important IT projects.
Outsourcing to a procurement integration specialist gives buyers and suppliers all the benefits of connected commerce without consuming IT and managerial resources. The TradeCentric platform takes care of integrating buyer and supplier systems with minimal lead times. We host the integration infrastructure, and our connected commerce specialists provide support throughout the integration process.
4. Supply Chain Disruptions Will Continue Into 2023
Supply chain disruptions are a current fact of life. Businesses will continue to be challenged by supply chain risks and vulnerabilities, but forward-looking B2B companies are investing in connected commerce to mitigate risk and reduce the cost of integrating new suppliers. Once an integration is deployed, buyers and suppliers greatly benefit from a two-way real-time data flow providing insights into pricing, inventory levels, product demand, shipping and delivery timelines, invoicing and payments, and much more.
Troy Lynch, CEO