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B2B Commerce

4 Emerging B2B Commerce Trends (that Could Impact Business in 2022)

These B2B commerce trends weren’t what we’d anticipated, but they’re sure to change the wave of business. Here’s what we learned from the most recent research, and what you can do to ride the tide.

person carrying a stack of shipping boxes
No one saw them coming. But these four trends in B2B commerce can help set your company on the right path. [Oscar Wong / Getty Images]

In 2021, leaders in the B2B space prioritized digital commerce. Sixty-five percent of B2B organizations increased their investment in ecommerce last year. Now that brands have had time to find their bearings and gain traction with their digital initiatives in this new landscape — what’s next? We’ve got a few ideas. These are a few emerging B2B commerce trends that are here to stay.

1. In 2022, B2B marketplaces will be the real MVP

Marketplaces — digital platforms that connect buyers and sellers of goods — will be one of the biggest B2B commerce trends this year, for both enterprise and small-to medium-sized businesses. B2Bs that use marketplace technology to onboard additional sellers and offer third-party products related to their core goods can vastly expand their reach. These experiences offer better assortment and choice for B2B buyers. Additionally, marketplace operators often see meaningful revenue growth (with little risk) since they earn margin on top of third-party products.

B2Bs that use marketplace technology to onboard additional sellers and offer third-party products related to their core goods can vastly expand their reach.

It’s a smart move for B2Bs, especially in the midst of enduring supply chain woes. Marketplaces allow companies to expand their digital assortment of goods and services with existing and new distribution partners and third-party sellers. The results are a more comprehensive service for B2B buyers that addresses region-specific product and distribution needs.

In international markets where supply chain and distribution impacts vary, a marketplace operator can target sellers who have goods at the local distribution point — or at least in the same country. This means faster delivery and a better overall experience for customers.  

2. B2B brands will focus on customer acquisition

In the past, B2B brands focused digital initiatives on creating and streamlining self-service portals for current customers. While customer retention and loyalty will always remain a major priority, new customer acquisition will be front-and-center in 2022 and beyond. 

When you consider that 72% of B2B buyers start their journey online, it’s no wonder that B2B brands are pulling out all the digital marketing stops. Rather than relying on cold calls and emails to bring in new business, B2Bs are developing data-driven digital marketing strategies. Paid ads, search engine optimization, email marketing, and social media campaigns are now key to B2B success. As digital natives become B2B decision makers, they expect companies to meet them on the channels they’re already on. 

Paid ads, search engine optimization, email marketing, and social media campaigns are now key to B2B success. As digital natives become B2B decision makers, they expect companies to meet them on the channels they’re already on.

Across all industries, B2Bs are experimenting with marketing tactics that have traditionally been used in B2C. They’re finding so much success that 59% of B2Bs said that their salespeople are being retrained to shift their efforts to marketing.

Traditionally, B2B commerce initiatives have focused on automating simple reorders. That’s changing. Gartner research found that 77% of B2B buyers said their last purchase was very complex or difficult. This year, B2B brands will put muscle into solving this common pain pont. Even as their digital needs expand, business buyers want the ease of the consumer experience above all else. 

This goes beyond the connected channels that B2B buyers always demanded. Buyers want more than the same price guarantee whether they call their rep or order from the website. It’s also no longer enough for B2B brands to limit self-service to reorders and status checks.

B2B buyers want choice and flexibility. Customers want to configure complicated products online.

Now, B2B buyers want choice and flexibility. Customers want to configure complicated products online. For example, medical device companies have typically focused their digital commerce on consumables and supplies. Now, they’re allowing customers to specify devices and complete purchases online. Buyers want to do more of their transaction purchase flow digitally. They want more control and more choices about how, when, and where to transact.

4. The distinction between B2B and D2C will get even hazier

Throughout the pandemic, many businesses slowed their B2B investments in favor of direct-to-consumer (D2C) initiatives, and these decisions have forever changed the distinction between B2B and D2C. This includes manufacturers and consumer goods companies that wouldn’t typically sell to consumers.

Many companies who never would have thought about incorporating D2C models found themselves adapting to the pandemic’s challenges by supplementing B2B channels and going straight to the consumer. Now, businesses must maintain these supplemental channels they built throughout the past few years. The result will be increasingly blurred lines between B2B and D2C brands. In 2022 and beyond, companies will need to invest in technologies that can support agility and channel shift.


Andy Peebler is vice president of B2B commerce at Salesforce. He guides the strategy for B2B commerce at Salesforce, including product and surrounding ecosystem, go-to-market alignment and thought leadership with customers and industry stakeholders. Prior to Salesforce, Andy was EVP of strategy and an investor at CloudCraze, the B2B commerce company acquired by Salesforce in 2018.

More by Andy

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