The Role of Artificial Intelligence in B2B e-Commerce

Die Rolle der künstlichen Intelligenz im eCommerce

The rise of E-commerce in B2C is mind-blowing. For example, the online giant Amazon made revenues of almost half-a-trillion dollars for the twelve months ending September 30, 2022. And as the number of physical shops declines, e-commerce is becoming increasingly important.

Take Germany. Between 2015 and 2019, 5,000 physical shops were closed yearly in the country. Between 2020 and 2022, up to 47,000 more shops and branches will follow. Meanwhile, online sales are booming. In 2015, online sales were €39.9 billion, but by 2021 they had risen to €86.7 billion, with a forecast of €97.4 billion in 2022.

B2B e-commerce for wholesales and manufacturers is feeling the same heat – growing in volume and importance. It cannot be ignored; it cannot be avoided. E-commerce belongs to a central part of a B2B sales mix. It is highly competitive, nonetheless.

What role does AI play in e-commerce? Can you give any two examples where artificial intelligence is used in e-commerce? Let’s dive in.

E-commerce is No Longer a “Nice to Have”

E-commerce is a “must-have”. In addition to stationary trade, it has become essential for businesses. The current COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of e-commerce. In a recent Adesso study, 72% of respondents said they made more online purchases during the pandemic.

Similarly, a Bitkom study from 2020 also showed that 56% of the companies surveyed were able to expand their customer base due to digitalisation, with 41% reporting an increase in sales. As such, the question is no longer whether to use e-commerce but how to use and optimise it.

Optimisation is the main keyword of the last sentence, for online sales make pricing transparent and customer retention harder. Transparent markets are usually highly competitive. B2B e-commerce is no exception.

The e-Commerce Industry is Highly Competitive.

The e-commerce industry is highly competitive. Successful B2B companies find ways to gain and maintain an advantage, sometimes even technologically.

Price and product range are needed to stand out from the competition. They are just not all. Instead, customer centricity is becoming increasingly imperative for success in e-commerce. Customer satisfaction is critical, and only companies that meet customer expectations will achieve this.

How can AI help online sales? One area that is gaining attention in the world of online marketing and sales is artificial intelligence. While some see AI as a potential game-changer, others are wary of its potential impact. However, many sales executives need clarification on AI and how they can use it effectively. As a result, existing AI offerings still have great potential in B2B.

AI in Germany’s B2B e-Commerce

Artificial intelligence has become an increasingly important tool in online marketing and sales in Europe and Germany. With the ability to analyse vast amounts of data and make predictions based on that data, AI can improve the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns and help companies make better sales decisions.

The latest trends in B2B e-commerce show that AI in online marketing and sales is still in its infancy in Europe. On the other hand, China is leading the way in using AI for new retail and marketing.

Not all is gloom in the old continent. There are also successful use cases in Europe – companies using AI to gain an advantage in online marketing and sales processes.

One mention is the rise of B2B Marketplaces. Since many businesses do not drive their e-commerce themselves, B2B platforms offer a reasonable opportunity to develop new customers without having to afford investments individually.

E-Commerce Analytics Use Cases with AI

One common way to employ AI in online marketing and sales is with machine learning algorithms. AI software for sales employ algorithms trained to analyse large amounts of data, such as customer behaviour and purchase history. It can then accurately predict which products or services will interest a particular customer.

Generally, successful companies use AI to improve the accuracy of sales forecasts. By analysing past sales and customer behaviour data, AI algorithms can predict future sales trends and help companies plan their sales strategies accordingly.

AI allows companies to tailor their marketing efforts and sales pitches to individual customers, increasing the chances of making a sale.

Chatbots are another example of how companies are harvesting the power of AI in online marketing and sales. These automated programs can engage in conversations with customers, answering their questions and providing them with information about products or services. Chatbots can improve the customer experience and make it easier for customers to find the information they need.

B2B e-Commerce Trends in Wholesale

If you need a must-have trend for wholesalers, look no further than E-commerce and multichannel sales. The research company Forrester states that e-commerce amounts to 12% of total B2B sales in the US (2020), with an aggregated value of $1.1 trillion.

B2B companies without an online sales channel are missing out on a vast sales channel, getting only larger. Industrial distributors and wholesalers profiting from this stellar trade volume rise will suffer from pricing erosion and increasing competition.

Experts at Frost & Sullivan, the market research company, blame the rise of e-commerce and B2B Marketplaces for the increasing competition among manufacturers. And if you are feeling the pain, wait for Amazon to increase your competitive pressure.

However, acquiring customers by merely having a presence and thus increasing visibility in the market is impossible. The competition on B2B platforms is fierce, and the offers are often similar. The question arises of how companies can achieve competitive advantages under these conditions. The answer: Through a detailed analysis of their customer data.


The Role of Artificial Intelligence in B2B e-Commerce – Conclusion

E-commerce represents a new sales channel in B2B. Marketplaces can accelerate growth while reducing investments. However, it is more than just the channel that matters. It is also the technological enablement and who profits from it. Digital-first – customer second? No.

Customer centricity and the quest for satisfaction remains the main driver of the B2B transition to e-commerce. However, with thousands of customers, products and sales transactions, how can companies compete?

Recent trends in B2B e-commerce show that AI plays a critical role here. AI in marketing and sales is becoming increasingly important in the digital age.

While there may be concerns about its potential impact, AI has many incredible benefits to automating processes and improving customer satisfaction.

Businesses should consider implementing AI in their online operations to stay competitive and meet the evolving needs of their customers.