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Commerce & engagement

Five B2B eCommerce trends that your company can take advantage of


B2B eCommerce is showing no signs of slowing down. In 2023, global B2B eCommerce was valued just shy of 24 trillion euros, with forecasts predicting a compound annual growth rate of approximately 18-20 %.

In my previous post, I discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift from analog to digital, even in industries traditionally relying on face-to-face customer and stakeholder interactions. This shift has led to a strategic focus on digital commerce across the globe, from the Nordics to Central Europe. We’re witnessing this firsthand in our day-to-day discussions with our global customers.

Today's B2B companies understand that offering top-notch products isn't enough but needs to be matched with the best customer experience to increase customer loyalty – and a growing share of wallets. B2B customers also expect a seamless and exceptional experience in every digital interaction with your company.


What are the current investment priorities for industry leaders focusing on customer experience and digital transformation? Let's take a closer look at the 5 key topics that we regularly discuss, plan, and implement with our customers.

B2B eCommerce trends in 2024

The main B2B eCommerce trends right now

1. B2B portals

Portals are not new, but during the past three years or so we’ve witnessed a significant increase in large-scale portal initiatives. We’re now seeing that leading global players in B2B-focused industries are building portals to serve their global customers and distributor networks from one digital touch point. 

Unlike the portals from two decades ago, modern B2B portals go way beyond informative extranets. They aim to be a one-stop shop for customers or other stakeholders, offering access to relevant information and a way to transact and interact with the company in a highly personalized manner. These portal initiatives are strategic and business-driven, transcending traditional IT projects. They often represent significant, cross-functional projects spanning different company functions and business areas within these organizations.

For the past several years, we’ve been designing and implementing customer and distributor portals that are in use globally. And the way things look, demand for these will only grow.

2. B2B marketplaces

If the concept of a portal is nothing new, digital marketplaces are old news as well. For example, started in 1994 and in 1999.

What we’re seeing now, though, is that marketplaces are gaining renewed interest. B2B companies that have focused on their core business – selling their products and services – are exploring marketplace business models more and more. For example, we designed and implemented a B2B marketplace for one of our large food industry customers about three years ago. Even though the B2B marketplaces aren’t something new, it’s definitely a trending topic which we can see in the increased demand from our customers.

The current focus is more on vertical marketplaces. Whereas horizontal B2B marketplaces (such as aim to be a one-stop shop for everything, vertical marketplaces are much more specialized in what they offer and to whom. For example, imagine you are a manufacturer of surface finishing products. It might make sense to run a marketplace that provides other complementary products, such as work gloves or other related safety equipment as well.

The reason why vertical marketplaces are in focus is the aggregation of demand and supply and the need to offer a superior customer value. These specialized platforms cater to specific customer groups, extending the offering beyond the company's manufactured products. This approach not only enhances the company's market value but also attracts new prospects who might convert into customers.

3. Leveraging data to drive revenue

How can companies extract value from an intangible asset like data? That’s a question that has been brought up in increasing numbers during recent years. The answer is that you can get value from data in multiple ways – and an expert partner can help you find the right use cases. 

For example, how can a company that manufactures and sells industrial equipment and maintenance services for said equipment derive value from data? Let’s say the industrial equipment sold is fitted with sensors that provide data about things such as temperature and vibration. That data can then be processed into insights about what needs to be serviced and when, what spare parts to order, and how to optimize how the equipment is run. To the customers using the equipment, this insight is worth paying money for as it provides real value.

A prime example of turning data into insight and further into revenue is the Swiss company Sulzer, where we’ve helped to build a system that works somewhat exactly like the example above.

Data monetization, where companies create sellable products or services from their unique data, is also an option. The success of this approach depends on the uniqueness, robustness, and quality of the data.

The trend spans various sectors, from financial companies selling unique customer behavior data – to digital fashion leaders like Zalando offering valuable consumer insights derived from their extensive data.

4. Enhancing the customer experience

I already touched upon this subject in my previous post: Providing the best omnichannel customer experience is also critical in B2B.

It’s really about not only winning customers and market share but retaining them while getting as big of a share of business from them as possible. The companies that understand that this is the game to play in B2B are the most successful ones. The investments into realizing the best possible customer experience are significant. It transforms businesses so that they continuously learn from their customers and are as relevant, personal, and conversational as possible.

The focus on customer experience in B2B is such a hot topic that we’ll cover it in more detail during this B2B eCommerce blog series.

5. API-driven business capabilities and composability

From a more technical perspective, the two topics that dominate discussions in B2B commerce are service layer architectural patterns and composable commerce. 

There are certainly multiple ways to build integrations in an enterprise architecture landscape, but the service layer architectural pattern is one of the bigger trends. In practice, instead of spending time on building point-to-point integrations that mainly transport and transform data, integrations are seen as shared business capabilities. They’re perceived more as intelligent services that can combine and enrich the information from multiple systems, and offer the information through APIs for everyone needing it – whether it’s for eCommerce, an internal business application, or a partner system that all would benefit from the same data and business logic.

Composable commerce architecture, in turn, means that instead of trying to find a monolithic all-in-one solution that provides all necessary functionality, the overall solution is instead composed of best-of-breed technologies and custom-built solutions.

A composable commerce approach allows better scalability and flexibility from the architecture point of view, meaning that you are better equipped to adapt to changing business needs and customer expectations. Composability is not, however, a silver bullet – especially in B2B commerce.

Some might claim that the best solution is always to split between as many SaaS platforms as possible to ensure maximized separation of functionality between systems – then just pick and join platforms as you go. However, fragmenting the solution into tens of different platforms just for the sake of composability will make end-to-end process management, master data management, and integrations more difficult to manage, possibly increasing development and maintenance costs. From that point of view, composable architecture is just one part of the equation.

Composable architecture is definitely here to stay, and rightfully so. B2B-focused companies still need to be wary of the opinions and statements the market has to offer – whether it’s from consultancies or technology vendors. As stated in my previous post, B2B is not B2C, and there are characteristics that should guide the architectural decisions further than just plainly and blindly going “composable”.

Navigating through these B2B eCommerce trends

As we look ahead, it's clear that the landscape of B2B eCommerce is undergoing a transformative evolution. Driven by advancements in digital technology and changing customer expectations, companies are rapidly adopting new strategies to stay competitive. From the expansion of innovative digital portals and marketplaces to leveraging data for growth and focusing on customer experience, the trends shaping the future of B2B commerce are both diverse and dynamic. 

The key to success in this ever-evolving market lies in keeping the customer experience the top priority, understanding these trends, and strategically implementing solutions that not only meet current demands but also anticipate future needs. As we continue to explore these developments and their implications, it's evident that the companies willing to embrace change and innovate will be the ones leading the charge in the world of B2B eCommerce.