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The digital transformation of B2B e-commerce is rapidly evolving, driven by advancements in technology and changing customer expectations. One of the most exciting developments in this space is the rise of generative AI, which has opened up new possibilities for businesses to enhance their operations and customer interactions.

To explore these opportunities, the ShoppingTomorrow expert group ‘B2B Frontrunners: Harness Your B2B E-commerce Potential’, hosted by De Nieuwe Zaak and Intershop, met in the headquarters of Top Bakkers in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands. This group, comprising 23 experts, is dedicated to unlocking the full potential of B2B e-commerce through five in-depth sessions.

For those who missed the first session on the modern B2B e-commerce platform, which focused on understanding what B2B customers want and how businesses can align their technical infrastructure to meet these demands, both now and in the future, be sure to check out our previous blog post.

Now, let’s dive into the insights of session #2 which focused on leveraging generative AI in the B2B world.

What is generative AI – and why should B2B e-commerce leaders make use of it?

How to tackle the most impactful B2B e-commerce challenges with
AI solutions

Exploring generative AI’s potential across B2B industries

Innovating with generative AI in B2B e-commerce: A case study of
Top Bakkers


What is generative AI – and why should B2B e-commerce leaders make use of it?

Generative artificial intelligence (generative AI or GenAI) refers to a subset of artificial intelligence that can create new content, such as text, images, or even music, based on the input data it has been trained on. Unlike traditional AI, which often focuses on analyzing and interpreting existing data, generative AI goes a step further by producing original content. This capability is made possible through advanced machine learning models like OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Microsoft Copilot, which can understand context, generate human-like text, and even create visuals.

The rise of generative AI in the digital landscape has opened up immense opportunities for B2B e-commerce leaders. Here’s why it’s becoming a game-changer:

1. Enhanced content creation: Generative AI can streamline the creation of high-quality, personalized content at scale. Whether it’s generating short- and long product descriptions, creating marketing copy, or creating visuals and photos, AI can produce content faster, at scale and more accurately than traditional methods. For instance, tools like Midjourney can generate high-quality images, while GPT-powered extensions can produce SEO-optimized texts, enhancing the appeal, SEO searchability of products.

2. Improved customer interactions: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide instant, personalized responses to customer inquiries, enhancing the customer experience. These tools can handle a wide range of tasks, from answering common questions to guiding customers through the purchasing process. Conversational user journeys enabled by AI enhance the customer experience and lead to higher conversion rates.

3. Predictive insights: Generative AI can analyze large volumes of data to predict customer behavior and preferences. This enables businesses to tailor their offerings and marketing strategies to meet the specific needs of their customers, thereby increasing engagement and conversions. AI algorithms can predict customer behavior, helping businesses make informed decisions about logistics, inventory management, and personalized marketing strategies. This predictive capability significantly improves the accuracy and efficiency of business operations.

4. Operational efficiency: By automating repetitive tasks and processes, generative AI allows businesses to operate more efficiently. This will lead to significant cost savings and free up resources that can be redirected towards more strategic initiatives. Enhanced operational efficiency through AI-driven automation enables businesses to handle complex tasks with greater speed and accuracy, ultimately improving productivity and reducing operational costs.

5. Innovation and competitive edge: Adopting generative AI can drive innovation within B2B e-commerce, allowing businesses to stay ahead of the competition. By leveraging the latest AI technologies, companies can continuously improve their operations and offer unique, cutting-edge solutions to their customers. The ability to innovate with AI gives businesses a competitive edge in the market, enabling them to differentiate their offerings and deliver superior value to customers.


How to tackle the most impactful B2B e-commerce challenges with AI solutions

During the expert session, the expert group identified some of the most impactful challenges facing B2B companies today and discussed how AI can help address these issues effectively:

Growth and scalability:

  • Challenge: B2B companies often struggle to scale their e-commerce operations efficiently while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction and operational effectiveness.

  • Solution: AI can connect existing IT landscapes, identifying connections between disparate systems with their e-commerce system. This integration facilitates seamless data flow, enabling businesses to acquire new customers while expanding relationships with existing ones. AI-driven tools can automate routine tasks, allowing human resources to focus on strategic growth initiatives.

Market changes:

  • Challenge: Rapid market changes and evolving online purchasing preferences can lead to increased customer churn and reduced market share.

  • Solution: AI-powered retention models can predict and address customer churn by analyzing patterns and identifying at-risk customers. These models allow businesses to proactively engage with these customers through personalized marketing and service strategies, ensuring higher retention rates, better alignment with customer needs and a higher customer lifetime value.

Data overload:

  • Challenge: Businesses often face overwhelming amounts of data from various sources, making it difficult to extract actionable insights.

  • Solution: AI can process and analyze vast amounts of data to understand, segment, and predict customer behavior. By breaking down data silos, AI can generate personalized content and recommendations based on comprehensive data analysis. This capability enables businesses to deliver targeted marketing campaigns and improve customer engagement.


Exploring generative AI’s potential across B2B industries

Now that we understand the fundamentals of generative AI and its significance in B2B e-commerce, let’s explore how this transformative technology can be applied across various B2B sectors, revolutionizing operations and driving growth. Here are some key areas where generative AI is making waves:

Manufacturing and supply chain management: In the manufacturing sector, generative AI is streamlining production processes and optimizing supply chain management. By analyzing vast amounts of data, AI algorithms can predict demand fluctuations, identify potential bottlenecks, and optimize inventory levels. This predictive capability enables manufacturers to operate more efficiently, reduce costs, and deliver products to customers faster.

Here are some examples of how generative AI can benefit manufacturers in their e-commerce operations:

  • Product content creation: Generative AI can streamline the creation of short and long SEO-optimized product descriptions, images, and videos, ensuring that manufacturers can showcase their products effectively online. AI tools can generate high-quality visuals and descriptive texts in various languages, saving time and resources for manufacturers while maintaining consistency and accuracy across their e-commerce platforms.

  • Personalized recommendations: AI algorithms (such as SPARQUE.AI) can analyze customer data, transaction data and browsing behavior to provide personalized product recommendations. By leveraging generative AI, manufacturers can offer tailored suggestions to customers, increasing the likelihood of conversion and enhancing the overall online buying experience.

  • Inventory management: Generative AI can help manufacturers optimize inventory management by predicting demand fluctuations and identifying trends in customer preferences. By analyzing historical sales data and market trends, AI algorithms can forecast future demand and ensure that manufacturers maintain optimal inventory levels, reducing the risk of stockouts or overstocking.

  • Customer service: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide instant support to customers, answering questions, providing product information, and assisting with purchases. Generative AI enables manufacturers to offer round-the-clock customer service, improving responsiveness and enhancing the overall customer experience.

  • Data analysis and insights: Generative AI can analyze vast amounts of data to uncover valuable insights into customer behavior, market trends, and competitive landscape. By leveraging AI-driven analytics, manufacturers can make informed decisions about pricing, marketing strategies, and product development, ultimately driving growth and profitability in their e-commerce operations.

Wholesale and distribution: Generative AI is revolutionizing wholesale and distribution operations within the B2B e-commerce landscape by optimizing inventory management, forecasting demand, and enhancing supply chain efficiency. AI-powered algorithms can analyze historical sales data, market trends, and customer preferences to predict future demand and optimize inventory levels accordingly. Moreover, generative AI is enabling wholesalers to personalize their offerings and tailor pricing strategies to individual B2B customers, driving customer loyalty and satisfaction. By leveraging the power of generative AI, B2B wholesale businesses can streamline operations, reduce costs, and deliver superior value to their customers through efficient and personalized e-commerce experiences.

Here’s how generative AI can specifically boost the e-commerce operations of wholesalers:

  • Dynamic pricing strategies: Generative AI algorithms can analyze market trends, competitor pricing, and customer behavior to dynamically adjust pricing strategies in real-time. By leveraging AI-driven pricing optimization, wholesalers can maximize profitability while remaining competitive in the market.

  • Predictive inventory management: Generative AI can forecast demand and optimize inventory levels based on historical sales data, seasonal trends, and market fluctuations. This predictive capability enables wholesalers to minimize stockouts, reduce excess inventory, and ensure timely order fulfillment for their B2B customers.

  • Personalized product recommendations: AI-powered recommendation engines can analyze customer purchase history and preferences to provide personalized product recommendations. By offering tailored product suggestions, wholesalers can enhance the shopping experience for B2B buyers and increase conversion rates.

  • Automated order processing: Generative AI can automate order processing tasks such as order routing, invoicing, and shipment tracking. By streamlining these processes, wholesalers can improve operational efficiency, reduce manual errors, and accelerate order fulfillment timelines.

  • Customer segmentation and targeting: AI algorithms can segment B2B customers based on their purchasing behavior, order frequency, and preferences. By identifying high-value customer segments, wholesalers can implement targeted marketing campaigns and promotional offers to drive repeat business and increase customer lifetime value.


Innovating with generative AI in B2B e-commerce:
A case study of Top Bakkers

With roots dating back nearly four decades, B2B Frontrunner Top Bakkers has become a cornerstone of the baking industry. Their unique platform connects bakeries with customers, streamlining sales, orders, and invoicing processes. By fostering collaboration among local artisans and large-scale producers, Top Bakkers has redefined the short-chain model, driving efficiency and supporting local economies.

A journey of digital transformation

In their quest for growth and sustainability, Top Bakkers embarked on a journey of digital transformation. Recognizing the potential of generative AI to revolutionize their operations, they sought innovative solutions to enhance customer experiences and drive efficiency. Strategic acquisitions, such as Bakkerij Brigade and Almost Ready Frozen, expanded their offerings and positioned them for future success.

Navigating challenges and opportunities

Recent challenges like the economic effects of the pandemic and rising raw material prices have pressured the sector. Additionally, a shortage of qualified personnel and the need for automation are daily realities. However, Top Bakkers views automation as an opportunity to innovate and strengthen through collaboration.

Embracing generative AI

Focusing on future growth and sustainability, Top Bakkers invests in generative AI and other digital innovations. These technologies enable the company to increase efficiency, automate processes, and offer higher levels of personalization. Planned implementations like a multishop order platform and a renewed identity are examples of how Top Bakkers prepares for a future-proof business.

Transforming B2B e-commerce

By embracing generative AI, Top Bakkers aims to revolutionize the B2B e-commerce landscape. Through their commitment to innovation and excellence, they continue to inspire and lead the way in the baking industry, offering seamless experiences to customers and driving sustainable growth.

Download: AI-driven personalization in B2B e-commerce