Future of B2B Buying & Role of B2B Ecommerce

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Following publication of Alibaba’s Alibaba.com’s Digital B2B 2022 Outlook report, Roland Palmer, General Manager of UK, Nordics & The Netherlands, Alibaba Group takes a look at the future of B2B buying and how ecommerce plays it’s part to facilitate transactions:

For many business buyers, sourcing products isn’t always an easy, straightforward process. While larger corporations often have dedicated sourcing teams who manage this critical aspect, for many small and medium-sized businesses (SME) owners it is up to them to conduct most of the company’s sourcing practices.

This can often be a challenge for SMEs, made harder by ever-changing supply chain dynamics. In fact, according to South West Manufacturing Advisory Service, 60% of SMEs are having to spend more time liaising with suppliers due to inefficient sourcing models.

As businesses increasingly look for new opportunities to grow and thrive in a post-pandemic world, an efficient and cost-effective buying strategy is becoming an essential point on most business agendas.  

Combining the latest technologies and consumer trends, B2B buying is changing, thanks to online B2B marketplaces. Platforms like Alibaba.com, a business-to-business global e-marketplace with a catalogue of products from over 200,000 suppliers, are enabling UK buyers to overcome supply chain challenges while saving time and money when sourcing.

One of the benefits of using online B2B marketplaces is the ability to source products from markets all over the world. At the height of the pandemic with domestic supply chains stretched, SMEs had to look outside of their domestic market for products and, according to Alibaba.com’s Digital B2B 2022 Outlook report, the increase in B2B e-commerce experienced during the pandemic thanks to the shift from offline to online, which is expected to remain beyond the recovery.

Across Europe, many SMEs are embracing a ‘hybrid’ strategy which involves attending physical trade shows and sourcing via well-known or global online platforms.

Feedback from B2B buyers interviewed for Alibaba’s Digital B2B Outlook 2022 report is that trading on these platforms provides them with the assurance that the company is an established and reputable business and ensures that the products purchased from the seller will meet standards around quality, shipment delivery and customer service.

By opting for a ‘hybrid’ strategy of attending trade shows and conducting business through an online presence, SME buyers across Europe are able to have a more holistic view of the products that can enhance their business, and provide value to their customers, ultimately enabling them to make better buying decisions.

As more areas of business become digitised, B2B buyers will continue to focus on online procurement channels to access a wider range of products across industries and geographies, and to improve the fulfilment process.

Orders placed via online platforms for B2B buyers is growing, with total revenues from online sources as a percentage of all business expected to reach 32.6% in Germany, 25.3% in Spain, and 16.4% in Italy by 2026. 

As a leader today in B2B ecommerce, with 40 million buyers from 200 countries, alibaba.com stays ahead by continuing to invest in its digital marketplace and introducing new technologies to make the buying journey easier than ever before. This includes the launch of augmented reality factory tours, livestream sessions with B2B sellers, and digital booths.

Such technologies provide a more immersive and frictionless purchasing experience for B2B buyers, and enable SMEs to have greater visibility of the operations of their sourcing partner of choice.

These factors are enabling SMEs to have enhanced peace-of-mind over their purchasing decisions, making them well-placed to drive growth in 2022 and beyond.


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