Study Reveals Top 3 Weaknesses Of B2B Ecommerce Solutions

Top 3 Weaknesses of B2B Ecommerce Solutions

In a recent infographic, Digitalcommerce360 highlighted the top 3 areas in which B2B sellers are trying to improve their ecommerce offerings. The infographic draws on data from the company’s B2B E-commerce Buyer Expectations Report, which surveyed 100+ B2B respondents on numerous industry trends. Among survey respondents, the highest-ranked problems are:

  • Limited information about shipping the product
  • Poor inventory information
  • Not enough information for the buyer to make a decision

These 3 areas are incredibly telling. If survey respondents are trying to improve ecommerce in each of these areas, then it stands to reason that the ecommerce solutions in question are suffering from 3 major weaknesses.

Let’s look at those weaknesses. In each case, we’ll also examine what it will take for manufacturers to overcome the problem and provide a seamless ecommerce experience.

Common Weakness 1: Unclear shipping information

In their lives as consumers, B2B buyers are accustomed to getting shipping information from Amazon (whether it’s accurate or not is another matter!). At the very least, B2B ecommerce solutions should provide this level of buyer confidence—accurate estimates for shipping charges and an estimated delivery date.

However, that baseline is often not enough—not to mention it’s complex to deliver in ecommerce with real-time SAP data. Beyond that baseline, B2B buyers often need visibility into many more attributes of the shipping process—and they may need control over those attributes, too. These are things like:

Solution: Real-time SAP integration

With a platform like Corevist Commerce, your buyers get real-time interaction with your SAP system—right in the ecommerce store. That means you can give them accurate shipping information on the web, eliminating the need for a phone call to your Customer Service department. Without this real-time data on shipping, you introduce friction into the buying process and reduce buyer trust in ecommerce.

Common Weakness 2: Inaccurate or missing inventory data

We weren’t surprised to see this item on the Digitalcommerce360 infographic. Shipping information aside, inventory data is arguably the most important information you can give your buyers in ecommerce. The question is, will you give them accurate inventory data?

The answer to that question depends on your architecture. Are you integrating ecommerce to SAP in real time? Or are you using batch updates?

B2B ecommerce solutions that depend on batch synchronization simply can’t provide accurate inventory data. Why? Because in an omnichannel world, the last widget in stock could be sold at any moment—and ecommerce won’t know about it until tonight’s batch update.

But it gets more complicated. You may not want to show every customer the total inventory that you have available for a product, so you can keep your highest-value customers happy. In SAP, this is known as an ATP calculation. If ATP is essential to your customer relationships, then it’s essential in ecommerce. And simply put, you can’t provide an up-to-date ATP calculation, personalized to your customer, if your architecture depends on batch updates.

Solution: Real-time SAP integration

With a platform like Corevist Commerce, your buyers get real-time inventory data from SAP displayed in ecommerce. Whether you give all customers the same inventory information, or whether you give them personalized ATP calculations, Corevist Commerce supports both. It’s just one more way we take out friction in the buying process and help you win at ecommerce.  

Common Weakness 3: Not enough information for buyer to pull the trigger

This common weakness sums up the first two, but it also includes far more. It highlights the mindset shift that’s required for manufacturers to transform their customer experience. Information that was once available in many disparate formats (product specifications, contract pricing, how-to manuals, product substitution, etc.) must now be brought under one roof: ecommerce.

This is an immense challenge for manufacturers. You know you need to get online, but the obstacles are tremendous. How can you move forward?

Solution: Real-time SAP integration (with multi-phase rollout plan if necessary)

We recommend prioritizing the highest-value data points which your buyers need, then providing them through a real-time SAP integration. With a smart B2B ecommerce rollout plan, you can launch a B2B web portal now, which takes orders by SKU and allows you to transition your “power users” (professional buyers) to ecommerce. In Phase II, you can add a catalog with rich content after you’ve begun to see ROI and had time to gather photos, videos, and other product content. This allows you to go after new market share and educate new buyers with rich content—after you’ve built a strong foundation of ecommerce success with your long-time customers.

Starting with a B2B web portal, you give your seasoned buyers the most important information they need to make a purchase:

  • Real-time pricing calculations based on contractual terms, quantity-scaled pricing, and any other pricing rules living in SAP—everything that your buyers would get by calling Customer Service.
  • Intelligent search within the web portal.
  • Intelligent error messages, straight from SAP, for discontinued or disallowed SKUs.
  • Accurate credit standing to determine if the buyer can place the order today.
  • Everything we covered in solutions to Weaknesses 1 & 2.

When you add a product catalog to your SAP-integrated ecommerce solution, you get all of the above, plus the following:

  • An Amazon-like buying experience with images, rich content, full product descriptions, and more.
  • Intelligent product recommendations taken straight from related SKUs in SAP.
  • Intelligent search results pages that include rich content.

Moving forward: FREE case study

Wondering what it looks like when a real company conquers all 3 of these obstacles? Download this case study on Mannington Mills. You’ll learn how this flooring manufacturer started with a real-time Corevist B2B web portal, added a catalog for rich content, and saw 150% sales growth in ecommerce.

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FREE Case study: 150% Sales Growth with Rich Content

Learn how a leading flooring manufacturer more than doubled sales with a B2C-style catalog.
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About Author

George Anderson

George serves as Digital Marketing Manager. A blogger and journalist with a passion for B2B ecommerce, he has written for the Magento blog, Digitalcommerce360, Supply & Demand Chain Executive, ERPgenie, and others.