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December 03, 2021

12 Digital Trends for Manufacturing, Wholesalers and Distributors

These trends are for mid-size B2B companies.

  1. 1. Merchandising With Digital
  2. 2. Personalization
  3. 3. User Experience & CRO
  4. 4. Marketplaces
  5. 5. On-Site Search
  6. 6. Complex Pricing
  7. 7. Complex Shipping
  8. 8. Multi-Store
  9. 9. B2B Ordering Systems
  10. 10. E-commerce/ERP Integrations
  11. 11. Punch-Out Systems
  12. 12. PIM Systems

1.Merchandising your Products with Digital

This is one of the greatest opportunities for B2B companies. Customers want to search, find, filter, research, prioritize, and replace products during their purchasing journey. Then, they want to know about the availability, prices, discounts, shipping, comparisons, reviews, and compatibility of the products, among other things.

Meanwhile, B2B companies want to build customer loyalty, increase value, upsell products that are higher quality, more popular, and provide better margins. Also, during checkout, cross-sell them with companion or complimentary products, special offers, sales, and product promotions.



For B2B customers, personalization is very different from B2C. B2B customers want to review their past orders and then re-order with one click. In many cases, they have their own custom catalogue with special pricing and discounts. Sometimes they have custom projects with special products and prices that they order from on a continuous basis. Of course, they also want to create their own wish lists, pay invoices, and manage their profiles.

3.User Experience & Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Experts now agree that a variety of disciplines must be applied and balanced for the site to be successful for both the customer and company. These include:

  • Branding and design
  • Information architecture and search
  • Usability principles and best practices
  • On page optimization for search engines
  • Conversion optimization

Attaining success in this multi-disciplinary process has become more challenging as the digital systems have dramatically increased their functions and services provided.

"B2B customers name the lack of speed in interactions with their suppliers as their number one pain point"


Marketplace Graph

B2B E-commerce sales through Marketplaces are exploding and it is expected to be double the size of B2C sales within the next five years. The leaders in this space are Alibaba, Amazon and eBay. Over 63% of consumers start their search for a new product on Amazon. The objective for B2B sellers is to seamlessly list, merchandise and sell their products through a variety of marketplaces including industry specific ones. The E-commerce platforms have embraced the challenge of allowing their customers to effectively manage these platforms from within their offerings.

5.On-Site Search

As sites become larger and more complex customers continue to migrate to your Search tool, the challenge is they expect results like Google and Amazon. Potential customers who are further down the sales funnel tend to use your search more often as they know what they are looking for. The new search tools allow for search results based on your business rules and characteristics.

They are adept at handling multi-language, mobile and voice searches, promotions, and provide effective statistics for you to improve your evolving search requirements. Tracking your on-site search enquiries can provide valuable insights.

Most effective b2b

6.Complex Pricing

For some B2B companies this is the most complex task in their digital journey. One client that we work with has a 4 terabyte pricing file!. You need to consider the many variables with pricing:


  • Simple products
  • Configurable products
  • Grouped products
  • Bundled products
  • Virtual & Downloadable products


  • Base price
  • Regular price
  • Multiple special/sale prices
  • Quantity discounts
  • Configured price

Prices can also be fixed or set in percentages and tied to specific user groups or projects. Good B2B E-commerce platforms take this complexity into consideration and in some cases deliver the flexibility needed.

7.Complex Shipping

The requirements, complexities and customizations seem to be endless for B2B shipping. A multi-carrier shipping setup is required to handle the different sizes, weights and volume of the products being shipped. Naturally the customer would like to know the shipping costs and their options prior to check out.

  • We have developed shipping options where the user gets free shipping when filling a truck. When putting objects in their shopping cart they see a visual display of how full the truck is. This tool dramatically increased our customers’ average order value.
  • We developed another shipping option for a building supplier that allowed their customer to choose a date and time for delivery and what floor the products were to be delivered to.


If you have more than one store, you’re definitely aware of a range of challenges related to developing and maintaining several sites – time, effort and money.

Over 40% of B2B companies are planning to deploy B2C or the new Direct to Consumer websites (D2C) by 2022.

One successful online specialty retailer is releasing 11 different websites with each one structured, designed and optimized for their major short tail keywords within their industry.

In addition to multi-store, B2B companies regularly require multi-catalogue, multi-currency, multi-language and multi-warehouse to be dealt with effectively.

"B2B customers now expect a B2C purchasing experience that also accommodates the complexities of a B2B sales process"
Gartner Research

9.B2B Ordering Systems

Until recently the E-commerce needs of B2B customers were primarily ignored by the E-commerce software suppliers. This is not the case today with the major players adding functionality and plugins to address the unique needs of B2B companies.

The major players in the B2B segment are Adobe/Magento Commerce, and Magento Community, WordPress WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Amazon Business, Shopify, Salesforce CloudCraze and NetSuite.

10.E-Commerce, ERP & CRM Integrations

Customers are expecting the convenience and speed that digital can deliver. Digital is effective for product research, 24/7 ordering, repeat orders, and much more.

B2B clients want to have access and manage the account information for their companies. This includes deciding who has authority to purchase and what are their custom catalogues, price lists, wish lists, shipping, and payment/billing information. They also want to have access to their invoices and allow payments to be made online.

Think of how much of your employee’s time will be saved if they do not have to answer these types of enquiries.

11.Punch-Out Systems

Essentially, your customer opens their purchasing system, and your E-commerce system opens in their window. This allows them to navigate, select products, and purchase within your site. Once they have filled their cart and hit buy, your E-commerce system sends that information through their purchasing system and out comes your PO. No more incorrect pricing, discontinued products being ordered, or errors due to re-typing.

"The Amazon Business Punch-Out System presently supports over 100 purchasing systems"

12.Product Information Management (PIM) Systems

One of the most complex aspects in your digital journey is the proper development and management of product data. Most expect their ERP to provide the capabilities to effectively manage this arduous task but in most cases they fall short.

The new PIM systems are powerful tools designed to handle all the data, content and other material needed to market and sell your products. They also help ensure that quality data is created for internal use and multi-channel distribution.

Some of the better E-commerce systems have effective PIM capabilities built in.

If you’d like to optimize your organization’s UX and design output, call or email us at [email protected]

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