Complex commerce is emerging as the new normal, with 69% of organizations investing in new digital channels over the past two years of the pandemic.
That’s one of the top line findings from Salesforce’s State of Commerce report (registration required), published on Day One of the firm’s Connections conference in Chicago, and based on data from more than 4000 "Commerce Leaders" from B2B, B2C, and B2B2C organizations in 25 countries around the globe.
Respondents are categorized as being Digital Leaders, Digital Moderates and Digital Laggards, with the report noting:
The channels with the biggest gaps in adoption between Digital Leaders and Digital Laggards are marketplaces, mobile apps, and social media. As the global economy continues changing at a rapid pace, however, more companies are catching up to Digital Leaders.
For B2C organizations, respondents currently report that some 45% of their revenue comes from digital channels, up from 32% two years ago and with an expectation that this figure will rise of 56% in two years time.
For B2B organizations, comparable numbers come in at 40%, up from 28% and looking to 52%, with 90% of B2B commerce respondents predicting large and more complex orders being placed online by business buyers online over the next two years.
Benefits for business sellers from digital channels include improved customer satisfaction (cited by 46% of B2B respondents), expansion into new regions, customer base growth and reduced time to deal close, all three coming in at 44%. The report also states that the buy side is also in transition:
B2B buyers are turning to digital channels now more than ever. As digital gains greater influence, companies are expanding into new sales channels rapidly. While 31% of business sellers say online channels provide more than half of all revenue today, 57% of digital leaders report that digital channels will provide more than half of all revenue within the next two years.
To market, to market!
B2C organizations invest most heavily in their website (61% of respondents), followed by social media (58%) and third-party marketplaces (54%). For B2B firms the top two are flipped - social media on 55% and websites on 54% - while marketplaces again rank third on 49%.
Digital marketplaces are an increasingly important part of the commerce landscape, according to the study:
B2B sellers are creating more satisfying commerce experiences. This includes marketplace platforms where buyers and sellers can connect directly: 33% of B2B sellers report that launching their own marketplace is a priority over the next two years. And Digital Leaders are 1.5 times more likely to be prioritizing their own marketplaces when compared to Laggards.
Across industries, commerce professionals in insurance/banking prioritize owned marketplaces the most (45%), followed by food and beverage and CPG on 43% a piece, and, of course, retail and grocery, both on 39%.
Paying your dues
New payment models are also a priority consideration. The report notes:
Today’s customers expect more options at checkout than cash or credit card. Organizations are prioritizing investments in flexibility:..The number of payment types is also growing, as 64% of companies already offer at least one mobile wallet option.
The data around this topic is interesting. As might be expected, 74% of respondents already accept credit cards. More surprisingly, 20% don’t, but think they will in two years time, while 5% have no such plans. Paypal is the most popular mobile wallet option, with 64% of respondents offering it today and a further 28% with it on their two year horizon, followed by Apple Pay on 54% already adopted and 34% expecting to be on board within two years.
And against the backdrop of Salesforce’s NFT announcement this week, the study data finds that less than a third (30%) of organizations say they currently accept cryptocurrencies, with 46% looking to do so in two years time, while 22% aren’t looking to take it on board within that timeframe. The report states:
As crypto moves more into the mainstream, organizations are eager to get on board. Today, only 30% of organizations offer crypto as a payment option at checkout. This makes it the least likely payment option to be offered. However, that’s changing quickly. Crypto is the number one reported payment method that organizations are investing in over the next two years when compared to all other forms of payment. And Leaders are 2.5 times more likely than Laggards to be investing.
The international breakdown of where crypto is currently accepted as payment is interesting with India leading the pack (42%), followed by the Netherlands on 40% and U.A.E and Israel on 38% each. The US doesn’t feature at all in the Top 10, nor do France, Germany or the UK.
Meanwhile headless commerce is found to be gaining momentum as a means of enabling organizations to move into or adapt to new digital channels more easily, cited as a benefit by over two-thirds of respondents (69%). The decoupling of the digital front end from the back end frees up organizations to build digital experiences with more flexibility - cited by 76% of respondents - and increased agility to make changes faster (72%).
By industry, the grocery sector leads the way, with 47% of respondents therein stating they already have a headless commerce architecture in place and further 34% aiming to have one up and running within two years. Given the need for grocery organizations to update their websites on a regular basis, this is perhaps unsurprising. Next up in terms of current adoption are insurance/banking, healthcare/life sciences, automotive and telecommunications, all on 45%. CPG, retail and food and beverage organizations are among those with respondents stating they plan to implement a headless commerce architecture within two years.
As ever with these State of… studies, there’s a lot of data to take in if you drill down via the related Tableau dashboards. What emerges clearly is a growing recognition across all business sectors of the importance of taking a long hard look at your current commerce strategies and making some prioritization decisions in the near future, or risk being left behind.