Top B2B procurement trends to watch out for in 2024

Category: Data & Insights
Top B2B procurement trends to watch out for in 2024

In this guest post, Jijay Shen, General Manager, Europe at Alibaba.com discusses the top B2B procurement trends to be aware of in 2024

In the fast-evolving world of B2B cross-border trade, staying ahead of the curve is crucial, especially for SMEs who, traditionally, have not been as strong in this area as their bigger, more established counterparts. This year, several trends will shape how SMEs source more effectively, optimise their operations, and capture growth opportunities. Alibaba’s SME Export Barometer for Europe report showed that 66% of SMEs anticipate sales growth in the coming year, with much of this expansion coming from online sales, indicating that optimism among such businesses is high and an appetite for utilising online tools is clearly there.

Greater momentum around online B2B marketplaces

Online B2B marketplaces leverage the best of B2C technologies to seamlessly connect buyers and sellers and break down barriers to cross-border trade. Over the coming year, we can expect these marketplaces to gain even more momentum, offering SMEs an opportunity to shore up their supply chains, and discover new and exciting products, by connecting with a global ecosystem of suppliers. In addition, they will play a crucial role in driving growth, with 23% of SMEs already noting that a major benefit of online B2B marketplaces is the ability to access key market insights in a way that was not previously possible.
As a growing number of companies join these platforms, the world of B2B trade will become ever more dynamic, with businesses focused on discovering new opportunities and streamlining their procurement processes to maximise efficiency.

Higher uptake of smart technologies and mobile capabilities

Smart technologies – which in recent years have undergone a significant process of democratisation – are making sourcing more convenient, personalised, and efficient.

Tools such as smart image search are expected to become more popular, for example. They enable buyers to find the right products and suppliers quickly and easily. On Alibaba.com, buyers can drop an image into the online platform’s search bar and add specific descriptors to create a blueprint for their dream product. This instantly cross checks against all products and suppliers listed on the platform. This makes the sourcing process more specific to individual buyers and allows them to source unique products that will directly relate to their business needs.

Smart tools such as the smart assistant will also prove popular. The benefits are clear to see – enabling more efficient cross-border trade through the use of this new technology. Streamlining the enquiry processes by filling in the blanks for a product’s material, size, and quantity can help buyers to make their ways of working more efficient.

Growth in new communication channels

Historically, common barriers to international trade have been those such as language and culture. According to the Centre for Prospective Studies and International Information, when trading partners use similar languages, trade is likely to be 72% higher. In 2024, SMEs will increasingly leverage smart language tools on online B2B marketplaces to help overcome this particular obstacle. Cutting-edge voice recognition tools can instantly convert spoken words into subtitles in a language of the buyer’s choice and can even generate summaries of all conversations with suppliers, making sure all updates are in one place.

In the year ahead, technology will revolutionise communication between buyers and suppliers, with smart solutions becoming an indispensable tool.

Greater trust through digital tools

In 2024, innovative digital solutions that are hugely popular on B2C platforms will increasingly be leveraged to help buyers and sellers build trust: a fundamental component of successful cross-border trade.

One example includes virtual reality factory tours. On Alibaba.com, for instance, suppliers can display to prospective buyers where their products come from. During Alibaba.com’s biggest sales event of the year, Super September, more than 20,000 virtual reality showrooms were available. Additionally, livestreaming technology will also grow in popularity. It will enable buyers to take a closer look at products and ask potential suppliers questions in real-time.

Ultimately, in 2024, the world of online B2B procurement won’t just be about bridging the buyer-supplier gap, but making the journey to global trade more engaging, intuitive, enjoyable, and safe.

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