B2B e-commerce is still in its early stages in Europe

23 June 2022

B2B e-commerce in Europe is in its infancy when compared to online sales on other continents, such as Asia and America. Hans Maltha, CCO of iO, believes we have a lot of catching up to do. He provides the necessary tips and tricks for a B2B organisation to be prepared and to make rapid progress.

Header insights Hans Maltha | iO

This article was originally published in OnlineRetailer Magazine.

By 2025, more than 75% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials, says Maltha. "They are all digital-minded and grew up with e-commerce as their go-to channel for purchases. As a B2B organisation, you'll have to anticipate that. As I said, we still have a lot of catching up to do. In Asia and America, almost 70% of all B2B sales are made through e-commerce. Europe is nowhere near this level. Research firm McKinsey & Company also states that Covid-19 has advanced our digital transformation by five years. That means a lot. Whereas before Covid we thought we might reach that point by 2030, we are already there. This poses great challenges for companies."

Primary channel

B2B has the same high expectations of e-commerce as B2C. "That sounds obvious, but in a lot of online purchasing processes this is really not yet well organised," explains Maltha. "Half of all B2B e-commerce platforms do not meet the expectations of the buyer. Even more shocking: 94 percent of B2B buyers encounter customer experience problems online. Examples include unclear navigation, problems with checkout, or a platform that is not optimised for mobile use. Many organisations do not yet see B2B e-commerce as the primary channel. They really need to tackle this. It requires a completely different approach and a shift in the organisation. Not only in terms of technology, but also in terms of teamwork and the use of marketing and communication. It requires other partners and a different way of looking at the system landscape. An outdated landscape is not a bad thing in itself, but if you want to accelerate, you will have to deal with it in a smart way. In other words, the technology that you have now and will need in the future must not get in the way of the steps the organisation needs to take.

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Header e-commerce | iO

All experts under one roof

iO doesn't target just one specific sector, and that's a very deliberate choice. "We can take knowledge and experience from one sector to another," says Maltha. "To establish a solid digital ecosystem nowadays, companies need about 6 to 15 partners. However, we can provide our clients with end-to-end, tailor-made services: from strategy, content and creation to technology and marketing. All that, under one roof. We have all these areas of expertise because we have brought together the services of 30 companies into one new company: iO.

As a result, we have a much faster time-to-market with fewer direct and indirect costs, because everything is aligned. We spend less time coordinating tasks and seamlessly connect the customer journey on all fronts, enabling our customers to substantially accelerate their digital transformation. This helps our clients to leverage their growth and build a future-proof business. Our experience of smartly phasing out outdated system landscapes without losing speed in the process helps with this."

Technology independent

iO has five fully functional locations in the Netherlands alone and another four in Belgium. Maltha: "We use a campus structure, which means that every branch office has all the expertise needed to support clients from A to Z. We are technology-independent and — thanks to our scale — we can work with all common systems. We look at what is needed and which solution works best to build the digital ecosystem and achieve the desired acceleration and growth. Organisations that provide a seamless user experience can count on revenue growth of at least 20 per cent, according to research firm Gartner. As mentioned, Covid has brought an unprecedented acceleration to the digital transformation that none of us saw coming. Organisations that were already working on a digital transformation have been able to make good use of it. Others still have to make up the necessary ground, and parties like iO can help them with that."

Written by Frank Gielen.

Hans Maltha | iO
Hans Maltha
Chief Commercial Officer - iO

Over the years, Hans Maltha has built a rock-solid reputation in the communications and digital world as a leader who inspires and motivates his colleagues every day. At iO, he continues to do so as Chief Commercial Officer.

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