Trends in B2B Ecommerce: Browserless Commerce

The following is Part 1 of a 4-part series focusing on future-looking trends in B2B ecommerce

While the consumer side of digital commerce has been driving most of the innovation in the space, B2B ecommerce stands to benefit in almost countless ways. As B2B ecommerce matures and evolves, we’re beginning to see businesses transition beyond traditional commerce channels (online and offline). One area where we’ll see rapid innovation is in “browserless” commerce, which is quite simply removing the traditional browser interface from a range of purchasing / service scenarios. The ways that B2B commerce will be affected are many. Here are just a few of those scenarios.

For the purposes of this post, we explored three ecommerce scenarios linked to browserless purchasing that we predict will become more and more prevalent.

AI, machine learning & supply chain

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is permeating every functional area of commerce. The applications in the B2B space are virtually limitless. When it comes to consumables, we see proactive purchasing scenarios, where empowered AIs will automate replenishment programs based on usage-based ordering data. Dynamic pricing, something seen almost exclusively on the consumer-side, will be rolled out to non-contract customers based on supply and demand metrics. Global supply chain automation will result in efficiencies for both buyer and seller. For example, a builder will be able to purchase windows for an office tower in bulk to take advantage of volume pricing. More importantly, the availability of real-time data will allow the window manufacturer to ship only what’s needed at a given time, and to adjust delivery schedules to mirror variances in the building schedule.

IoT & auto-replenishment

As industrial parts and machines become internet connected, we see almost unlimited applications that will upend traditional ordering processes related to maintenance, repair, operations, and manufacturing (MRO/OEM). For instance, businesses will use RFID tagging on products to collect data and track inventory, and leverage chip monitoring and alerts to track assets without manual oversight. In practice, auto-replenishment will occur at a manufacturing plant or warehouse, where a conveyor belt, with its myriad of moving parts, will monitor itself. So, the proverbial squeaky wheel will get the grease, because it ordered the maintenance itself.

Voice as the new UI

The application of voice-controlled devices (such as Amazon Echo or Google Home) will be applied to B2B uses. This will be coupled with the evolution of natural language search to redefine product discovery, and keep end customers within a predefined funnel that eliminates exposure to competitors. For instance, an HVAC technician will be able to order parts, hoses and fittings in real-time via a voice-controlled device from the roof of a building, and a long-haul trucker will be able to order auto body parts from beneath the undercarriage of their vehicle on the side of the road. This offers a great deal of convenience, but virtually eliminates the concept of comparison shopping on competitor sites to find the best price. Such are the trade-offs that will occur.

Browserless purchasing scenarios will become integral parts of B2B ecommerce, coinciding with the overall rise in transactions occurring through digital channels. This is just one area where rapid technological shifts is disrupting how B2B companies do business. The key for B2B manufacturers and distributors is not to resist these inevitable changes, but to determine what will work best for their business and make wise technology investments.

For more insights on future-looking B2B trends, read Part 2 on contextual experiences and Part 3 on microservices, and stay tuned for Part 4 of our series.