The B2B world often follows closely behind the B2C world when it comes to adopting technology. While B2C eCommerce is practically the norm in many parts of the globe today, B2B eCommerce has just begun to take off. And as B2C mobile commerce begins to gain traction, industry experts anticipate that the B2B world will soon mirror that trend.
One of those industry experts is Suchit Bachalli, President for North American operations of Unilog Content Solutions, LLC. As a B2B eCommerce-as-a-Solution provider, Unilog has a bird’s-eye view of market fluctuations and the ways corporate suppliers and manufacturers are changing their sales strategies. PYMNTS spoke with Bachalli to explore if – and how – B2B m-commerce will infiltrate the industry, just as eCommerce has.
PYMNTS: As mobile commerce rises in prominence among consumers, are businesses beginning to catch on, too? What trends do you see emerging in the B2B mobile commerce space?
SB: Mobile eCommerce transactions are expected to cross $638 billion by 2018, according to a joint study by Deloitte and ASSOCHAM. This comes as no surprise considering that mobile devices have become ubiquitous around the globe. So yes, mobile devices are changing buying behaviors across the board, and the B2B market is no exception. In fact, a recent Forrester report estimates that traffic to B2B commerce sites from mobile devices will soon match the mobile traffic of that of B2C sites.
There are a couple of key trends in mobile B2B eCommerce worth noting.
First, B2B buyers and consumers are becoming more and more alike. In other words, B2B buyers expect a B2B eCommerce site to deliver the same convenient and seamless shopping and buying experience as any B2C eCommerce site. So, today’s B2B mobile sites must be able to deliver on that promise, such as by providing up-to-date and real-time product information on features, brands, availability, pricing and shipping information, as well as ease of payment.
Another trend we can expect to see in B2B m-commerce is the availability of unique applications offline that allow users working in remote areas who don’t have access to the Internet to be able to do things offline, such as adding products to a cart or searching catalogs from their mobile phone. For instance, if you’re in the middle of the ocean on an oil rig and need a part, you can browse products, add them to your shopping cart, etc., even without a Wi-Fi connection.
PYMNTS: The B2B world has been slow to adopt the eCommerce business model. Do you think corporate buyers, manufacturers, suppliers and other B2B players will similarly lag behind in adopting mobile commerce strategies?
SB: I think there’s always that challenge when it comes to adopting a B2B eCommerce model because the integration requirements of B2B environments are very specialized and complex when compared to a B2C eCommerce environment. But, certainly not as challenging as building an eCommerce site from scratch. The best scenario is to choose an eCommerce platform that offers built-in features and functionality in order to support mobile commerce transactions and provide customers with an optimal mobile commerce experience.
PYMNTS: How do you think an increase in mobile procurement and mobile corporate buying will impact the emergence of mobile B2B payments?
SB: It will have a huge impact. As mobile continues to emerge as the dominant platform used by corporate buyers to procure and purchase products, processing mobile payments will naturally become a must-have for B2B suppliers and wholesalers to do business online. I do think that trends in mobile B2B payments will proceed applications in B2B mobile procurement. In other words, B2B payment methodologies will come first and then the applications to support B2B eCommerce will follow.