Insights & advice

Three Things B2B Businesses Can’t Ignore In 2021

The global pandemic has prompted research companies to predict what businesses around the world should expect, and therefore what to prioritise for 2021.

Forrester has recently brought research together calling out three areas online businesses can’t afford to ignore.  By way of summary, it comes down to three things…

1. Technology

The single biggest prediction Forrester’s makes for 2021 is what they call “technology acceleration.” That is, transferring from an outdated legacy system to improved digital platforms for services such as email marketing, CRM, POS, etc. This also includes working with the right eCommerce platforms (the experience design enabler).

Legacy technologies are now being seen as a ‘technical debt’ stifling growth and business evolution.  In 2020 there were countless examples of organisations missing out on the opportunity of cementing existing relationships digitally, and acquiring new B2B customers because legacy systems not able to meet the expectations of the modern B2B buyer.

Too often, a business will hang onto old technology past its use-by date and instead come up with ‘work arounds’ to avoid upgrades. It’s a decision that costs time, unnecessarily increases head count, wastes money and impacts B2B customer retention.

2. Loyalty

Undoubtedly the pandemic has had an impact on profitability, meaning businesses have had to seek out the most profitable products, services, and most importantly, customers: and deepen its focus on each. This year, it’s more important than ever to ensure you retain your existing customer base and look to strategically add value to the account and increase their spend.

Businesses sometimes struggle to understand how to create more value to an existing customer outside aggressive discounting. In a climate where business profitability has dropped, discounting is less than ideal and research proves it does little to foster loyalty.

The pitfall here is in thinking that generating loyalty is solely up to your marketing team. Creating brand loyalty is a group effort, a collaborative process that must be led by the CEO and supported by all department heads. Loyalty isn’t a marketing function, it’s a company function taking in all aspects from product quality to support services such as delivery and warranty, ongoing communication, creating a positive online experience (more on that later) just to name a few.

While Forrester predicts an increase in spending of 30% on loyalty specific initiatives, this is conservative.

3. CX Quality

Last year magnified the gap between what buyers expect in their online experience and what they’re being offered. Technology is the experience enabler, and legacy technology is the culprit. However, the larger issue is, businesses don’t know how to leverage technology to construct amazing intuitive online experiences. That includes knowing how eCommerce technology should look and behave, how the content available on-site adds to a customer’s journey and how multiple technologies can work together to share information.

Previously many retailers have been lucky in that when their online experiences were poor, customers would simply pick up the phone to call their account manager or rep. The pandemic changed this behaviour, removing the ‘safety net’ that your physical sales team provided. This alone leaves many B2B sellers vulnerable, as customers are now demanding an online experience and if it’s not up to par they are willing to change suppliers.

Forrester predicts 25% of brands will achieve statistically significant advances in CX quality in 2021, will yours be one of them?

Creating a positive online user experience is defining what’s important to your customers, knowing what features and workflows improve their experience and training staff (including providing them with new tools) to support these online experiences. For example, incorporating services like live chat.

These strategic efforts will build on themselves and begin changing the landscape for CX within industries. They’re strategic and self-reinforcing because they produce business results.

While all of the above should be the clear focus for 2021, these things have always been the foundation for all future strategic efforts for all businesses. Investing in these three things is the recipe for long term growth and profitability.

Take these items off your ‘wish-list’ today, if businesses don’t focus on improving these immediately, they won’t be around much longer.

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About the B2BEA

The B2B eCommerce Association is a global network and resource hub for B2B practitioners, offering invaluable opportunities to connect and learn. Our mission is to empower manufacturers and distributors in their eCommerce and digital transformation journeys through useful tools, practical resources and exceptional networking opportunities. Join us to thrive in our dynamic industry

Want to become a member?

Become a member of the B2B eCommerce Association for free today. Connect, learn and find new opportunities. 


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