Digital B2B Outlook 2023: 7 Trends That Will Shape Digital Export This Year
The global B2B environment has undergone a massive disruption ever since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. The widescale disruptions in supply chains and cancellation of trade shows catalyzed the shift to digital commerce. This unexpected shift has caused many SMEs to turn to established players in the B2B e-commerce industry, who can help them with the tools, platform, and reach to ramp up their online presence and evolve in this rapidly-evolving business environment. SME brands, therefore, need to keep an eye on the ever-changing trends in the B2B e-commerce space.
To that end, Alibaba.com, one of the largest wholesale e-commerce marketplaces in the world, has released its Digital B2B Outlook 2023 report, which highlights the 7 major trends that will impact the digital export industry this year. The report is based on survey responses from over 1000 B2B suppliers from around the world. This group is made up of both latent customers and in-service customers, so the past or present use of Alibaba.com was the commonality among all respondents.
Here are the major highlights of the report.
1. Digital Migration And Increased Competition
Companies will continue shifting to digital selling in 2023. The relative certainty of digital selling will be just what many companies need to keep their operations going this year.
This might result in increased competition amongst B2B sellers this year. Therefore, vendors who have still not digitized their business need to transition to online channels by the end of this year.
2. Digital Marketing And Administration
Digital marketing has gained immense significance over the last few years and many more new entrants in the industry will give more weightage to electronic marketing and administrative functions.
There’s also the possibility of a rise in companies that use digital tools for administrative purposes. For example, businesses can use popular products like Evernote, Canva, and Notion for organizing and clerical tasks.
3. Data-Driven Marketing
The world has moved well past the days when B2B marketing strategies depended on guesswork. With data-led marketing, businesses can execute their marketing campaigns with greater accuracy. Consequently, this will lead to better results and more useful insights.
To efficiently use data, companies will also have to put in place better tools and mechanisms that can help them access and exploit broader data types. B2B companies can also apply better data to analyze and learn from marketing campaigns.
Customers no longer want to feel like just another name on the long list of clientele that a business has got. They want to feel seen and heard, which is why personalization across various touchpoints will play a key role in digital exports this year.
Businesses can begin by including personal details in their communications with their clients to implement personalization. For example, addressing the customer by their name in a cold email can prove quite fruitful. Also, doing some research on their unique needs and including that in your proposition can go a long way in making them feel that businesses value them. Also, keeping a tab on their purchases can give businesses the information they need to encourage repeat purchases.
5. Time Spent Online
An average person spends around 40% of their time while they’re awake accessing an internet-enabled device or service. However, these numbers have fallen recently.
The average time spent online fell from 6.53 hours in Q4 2021 to 6.47 hours in Q1 2022. While this doesn’t suggest a major drop in the time spent online, it indicates that the time spent on the internet has already peaked and is probably on a decline now.
6. Video Marketing
Video marketing will continue to consolidate its ground in digital export as video is an effective way of engaging a high number of existing and potential customers. Many platforms also include their videos in their marketing channels for increased engagement from their target audience.
While short-form videos are currently in high demand, there is much scope for growth for long-form and live-streamed videos too. Ensuring that the target audience sees images aligning with their buying intentions is key to the success of any kind of video content.
7. Real-Time Messaging
Real-time messaging has emerged as a key trend for B2B digital exports and this shall persist in 2023 too. Today, customers have plenty of options to choose from and they don’t want to wait hours for responses from B2B sellers.
Therefore, real-time buyer engagement will become instrumental in B2B digital export. From using chatbots incorporated into their e-commerce store to employing mobile applications that they can access anytime, sellers in the B2B marketplaces must be willing to try everything so that they can successfully attain the goals of real-time messaging.
How Alibaba.Com Is Helping SMEs Navigate Through The COVID-19 Storm?
Alibaba.com is ideal for sellers to reach out to customers that they are unable to reach in traditional channels, such as business travel and tradeshows. 42% of sellers use Alibaba.com as their primary source of business with 60% aiming to break into new markets.
Also, unlike Chinese suppliers on the platform, the majority of GGS suppliers on Alibaba.com are manufacturers who produce their own products. Almost 40% of these suppliers have annual revenue of less than $ 100k. Therefore, Alibaba.com offers a more economical channel for small business owners who don't possess the experience or knowledge of exporting or simply cannot afford the cost of business travel and offline tradeshows.
Although the impact of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns are slowly lessening with time and most of the world is returning to a state of normalcy, the lessons learned throughout this global crisis will stick with businesses for generations to come. Many small businesses have faced tremendous hardships, but the experience has left them better equipped to navigate tough situations moving forward.
Digitalization makes trade more accessible and affordable since businesses can connect over the internet without having to travel to tradeshows and other events. Keeping in mind the trends discussed in this blog can help small businesses not only move past the effects of COVID-19 but also prepare them for the future.
To delve deeper into the insights of the report, click here to download the entire report.