With nearly every corner of the industry evolving in order to keep up with the change in times, eCommerce has become a breeding ground for progress. Every day, new trends are emerging on the scene that have the potential to shape the way consumers and businesses buy and sell online for the long term. This is especially true for the B2B segment – as increasingly more businesses reshape their digital strategy, we are seeing an influx of digital developments that serve the specific requirements of B2B. Today we would like to present which emerging trends we believe will become relevant in B2B for the long-haul.
Artificial intelligence has long been regarded as a promising topic in eCommerce. One way we are seeing AI applied is through the use of chatbots, which are essentially text-based dialogue systems that imitate natural, human conversational patterns when communicating with the end user.
Chatbots also have the ability to learn, and build their knowledge base by asking questions or creating datasets that consist of ready-made questions, answers or specific keywords. It’s quite easy to imagine their application in B2B, where they can act as a contact person that’s available 24/7 in the online shop to answer frequently asked questions at a moment’s notice. It’s also foreseeable that in 2018, we will see more chatbots accompanying end users throughout the entire customer journey.
2 Virtual reality
Using glasses or headsets, virtual reality allows customers to immerse themselves in a three-dimensional world simulated by computers, which can be explored and interacted with in real time. Virtual environments create an enormous value in B2B by removing physical boundaries of complex products, making it possible for customers to easily get an idea of the dimensions or experience the product first-hand without having to see it first “in the real world”. In essence, virtual reality takes product demonstrations to a completely new level by placing your customer in the centre of an interactive experience.
3 Augmented reality
Similar to virtual reality, augmented reality works in real time, but rather than simulating an environment, technology supplements the physical world with virtual elements by superimposing digital images. Augmented reality can be used very well in combination with mobile devices, in that products can be generated and integrated into the customer’s physical surroundings.
Customers can easily gain a better understanding of intricate products through augmented reality, as products can be broken down into individual parts and experienced as though they were actually in their physical surroundings.
4 Emotional shopping experiences
The purchasing decision is a complex mechanism that involves processing subconscious input and rational criteria. In addition to processing demand-oriented information, emotions also play a strong role. Traditionally seen in B2C, this trend is making its way into B2B, where more retailers are providing their customers with experiences that encourage an emotional connection with their products.
Storytelling is a prime example of how a retailer can infuse products with emotion. In this way, customers are able to experience products framed in worlds of content. The fields of application are not limited to product presentation – storytelling also makes it possible to tell the history of a company or bring the customer closer to the production process.
For example, the lamp manufacturer Paulmann uses storytelling to place its products in valuable context, using bold images, extensive product catalogues and video tutorials to help their B2B clients select the right products.
There are numerous trends to watch out for in the coming year – but above all, we will begin to see increasingly more B2B retailers adapt their strategy to provide their customers with richer shopping experiences: whether through emotional shopping or immersive product demonstrations that utilise VR/AR.
Shopware B2B Suite
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