B2B companies & eCommerce: Don’t Risk Falling Behind

By |
May 11, 2016
eCommerce Falling Behind

B2B organisations that choose to adopt a modern e-commerce platform will increasingly benefit as the digital economy continues to improve over time and the complexity of requirements grows even more. A few key things to look out for in a modern B2B E-Commerce platform:

Deliver a compelling User Experience

Today, many B2B companies use outdated, homegrown systems, or e-commerce platforms from vendors that are inadequate to meet today’s requirements.

For example, a legacy B2B-only e-commerce package that focused more on product configuration features may have solved that one challenge, but without the ability to easily and quickly provide a compelling user experience and deliver relevant, personalised content, it is nearly useless in today’s market.

Core B2B E-Commerce Capabilities

Although B2B e-commerce sites can be similar to B2C sites, B2B requirements are often more complex. A B2B e-commerce platform must provide the following:

  •  Integration. B2B e-commerce platforms typically require complex integrations with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and inventory and manufacturing systems, as well as customer data and contract terms.
  •  Support for different business models in the demand chain. B2B organizations often require a single e-commerce platform to support distributors, resellers, retailers, and direct B2C channels. The B2B e-commerce platform should offer strong catalogue management, promotions management, content management, and order management.
  •  Cross-channel content management. B2B companies require a great deal of content to support the sales process, as well as online catalogs. The B2B e-commerce platform should manage this content across all channels.
  •  Support for complex workflows and client self-management. B2B customers require self- service access to a much more complex range of information than is typically required from retail- focused solutions.

Segmentation and Personalisation

As sites become more content rich and complex, B2B companies need to help customers find the right information and products.  One way B2B companies can achieve that objective is through personalisation technology.

B2B commerce platforms that support customised versions of the site for different customers based on role, location, contract, customised catalogues, or assortments make it easier for customers to get the information they need and place orders that comply with their contracts.

To deliver this level of personalisation, the e-commerce platform should enable the creation of detailed customer profiles that include data such as role, customer size, business unit, browsing behaviour, buying cycle stage, purchase history and account history.

Businesses can automatically match the right offer to the right person at exactly the right time. The result: more sales, larger transaction sizes, and stronger customer loyalty.

Marketing & Merchandising

B2C environments provide customers with the offers and products most likely to interest them through merchandising capabilities, automated recommendations, and sophisticated search.

A B2B e-commerce platform should also enable merchandisers to perform essential merchandising activities without assistance from developers.  The B2B e-commerce site should be able to observe visitor behaviour and automatically deliver relevant recommendations based on factors such as demographics, buying history, or the behaviour of other visitors.

User-generated content can enable buyers to use relevant postings to guide purchase decisions.  Advanced search capabilities can help customers browse the site more effectively as well as provide B2B companies a valuable merchandising tool.

Wrap up

Modern e-commerce platforms that are purpose-built for B2B e-commerce and offer personalisation, B2C capabilities and full-service options are key to helping B2B organisations meet the challenges of a fluid and unpredictable digital economy.

Organisations that adopt such a platform now will gain the flexibility and agility they need to cut costs, retain customers, and grow.