B2B ECOMMERCE 2016
Working Toward a Seamless Customer Experience
- Changing expectations from business-to-business (B2B) buyers are driving B2B companies to develop and grow their ecommerce portals. Although the industry is expanding year over year, it is still in the early days of development.
- Companies considered leaders in their field are making most of the investments in B2B ecommerce sites. Most organizations are still figuring out the basics of strategy and development.
- A seamless customer experience is important for a successful B2B ecommerce site. Starting with a simple portal and building upon it will not only appease buyer expectations in the short term, but it can help set a company apart from the competition.
- As a self-service portal, B2B ecommerce sites aim to offer the same experience retailers offer to consumers. These include front-end features like personalized journeys, search functionality, product content, recommendations and mobile access.
- The back-end account management functions of the B2B ecommerce experience are much more complex than the business-to-consumer (B2C) world. Customization is critical for pricing, payments, billing, reporting, analytics, order management, workflow approvals and post-sale support.
What to expect in this report?
- This report details the growth of the B2B ecommerce space.
- It covers the reasons and methods by which B2Bs are designing and implementing seamless ecommerce experiences that satisfy buyer’s evolving expectations while also helping to increase sales.
- The digital Consumerization of B2B Buying
- B2B Ecommerce a growing but immature market
- Ecommerce Integration
Shopping digitally through Amazon has become habitual for many consumers, and that routine is influencing B2B buyer behavior. In Q4 2015, 92% of 100 B2B buyers worldwide surveyed by Forrester Research and Internet Retailer used Amazon to research a purchase for work. Furthermore, 82% completed their business purchase through the digital retailer.
THE AMAZON EFFECT Amazon’s influence is hard to overstate. “We’re so far into the post-Amazon consumer mindset that we have those expectations in our business lives,” said Glen Coates, founder and CEO of Handshake, a B2B ecommerce platform.
“It’s just easier to order via Amazon. [Buyers] do it for their household, why not for their company?” said Brian Walker, chief strategy officer at enterprise ecommerce solution provider SAP Hybris.
According to Prentis Wilson, vice president of Amazon Business, the digital retailer’s B2B buying portal, more than 300,000 business accounts were added in its first year. “Some of these individual accounts have thousands and tens of thousands of employees, so the breadth is pretty large,” he said.
At the same time, digital buying in general is increasing. The Forrester Research/Internet Retailer poll found that 32% of B2B buyers worldwide made half or more of their work purchases digitally in 2015. By 2018, that percentage is likely to increase to 53%.
In addition, those buying digitally tend to buy more in this way. According to a November 2015 study of B2B decision-makers worldwide by Forrester Consulting, Accenture Interactive and SAP Hybris, 63% of respondents said their work-related B2B purchases made online increased in 2015 vs. 2014. And more than half said the average size of work-related online purchases also increased.
B2B Buyers: They’re People, Too This shift in behavior is natural, because B2B buyers are also consumers. “Outside of work, they use consumer applications; while at work, they use B2B platforms,” said Hubert JP Jolly, global head of channel and enterprise services for Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions business.
“Whether you are a consumer or B2B buyer, you are a human being in both cases. A B2B buyer during the day is a consumer in the evening or on the weekend,” said Alan Bunce, vice president of product marketing, customer marketing and partner marketing at ecommerce platform provider Demandware. [Editor’s Note: Demandware was acquired in July 2016 by Salesforce and is now part of its Customer Success Platform.]
B2B buyers want the same thing consumers want when shopping: convenience. But buyers aren’t typically sitting at their desks making purchases for their businesses all day; they have other full-time duties.
“Buyers are moving into this new model because they don’t want to sacrifice their days and their jobs to buy for their business. They have a lot more important things to do. They need to run businesses, so they need a much more streamlined approach to ordering,” said Jeri Kelley, director of product marketing and commerce team at Oracle