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December 21 2023

Three cheers to a brilliant 2023!

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CEO Rob Mannion looks back at the big successes in the past 12 months and his key learnings to aid further growth in 2024

The Christmas period is a great time to reflect on what you’ve done in the previous year and take stock of what you’ve achieved. In among the Christmas parties, present buying and general chaos of the festive period, it’s something I’ve taken great pleasure in doing over the past couple of weeks.

When I look back at where b2b.store started 2023, it felt like a genuinely fresh start. We’d recently separated out the business so we were now selling multiple modules rather than just one eCommerce solution – and this would be the first full calendar year in this guise. The excitement and energy that brought was incomparable.

Since then, it’s been a real voyage of discovery. Our two big new modules, B2B WhatsApp and B2B Open Banking, have gradually developed over the course of 2023 to become cornerstones of businesses across the sector and beyond. From starting the year talking about the potential the technologies could deliver, we’re now consistently hearing about the tangible benefits they’re having on our customers’ businesses.

A watershed moment was when Bestway went live with B2B WhatsApp in March. This was the first large-scale use of the module in the wholesale sector and immediately became one of the biggest uses of WhatsApp as a marketing and sales tool in the UK, with nearly 22,000 independent retailers being sent messages several times a week.

As we built on that original functionality to schedule messages, link directly to Bestway’s sales platforms and drive previously unseen customer engagement, suppliers joined the party too. We started seeing a torrent of brands paying to push out promotional messages to Bestway’s WhatsApp channel and formalising the technology in their 2024 marketing plans. It was a real material shift and brand-new (and lucrative) revenue stream.

People were taking notice and soon several others were following Bestway’s example, with the likes of Sugro finding new ways to make B2B WhatsApp deliver on their business objectives. We even picked up luxury jeweller Pragnell as a customer, as they saw the potential in using the service to communicate with consumers.

We now end the year on the precipice of something even bigger, with leading suppliers and wholesalers queueing at the door to see how they can use B2B WhatsApp. Our development roadmap now includes truly personalised comms, advanced segmentation, automated messaging and an ability to do A/B testing of messages.

It’s that development that really gets a buzz about the place because it can feel as though our products are getting stronger every week. B2B Open Banking was another great example, as we saw it transform from being a predominantly online payment link at the start of the year to a solution that hits all of the main B2B payment points, including face-to-face transactions in-depot and remotely as part of a telesales order.

As we look forward to next year, there’s even more development on the horizon. Free from the shackles of servicing just eCommerce solution, we’re now working on several enhancements with customers, so we can show VAT at order summary, allow for live payment, quoting functions for non-customers, and even a loyalty scheme.

With all this going on, the end of 2023 is an exciting time – not just because of what’s gone before it, but also what the future holds in 2024 and beyond. So while I’m enjoying some of the nostalgia Christmas brings, it’s the new and fresh I can’t wait to get started with.

Merry Christmas to everyone and look forward to working with you in the new year!