Sam Bayer


B2B eCommerce Growing Fast–Are You In?

I guess the secret is finally out.

The value of transactions that flow through B2B ecommerce websites dwarfs those that flow through B2C websites. Forrester Research predicts that “US B2B ecommerce Sales To Reach $559 Billion By the End of 2013” as compared to $252 Billion for B2C.

While B2C ecommerce websites command more attention in the industry (>4M hits on Google for B2C ecommerce website versus 2.3M hits for B2B ecommerce website), it’s nice to know that B2B ecommerce websites play a more tangible economic role in the economy.

Enough gloating.

Andy Hoar brings up a few other points in his blog post that I would like to map to our company’s experiences:

  • “Ever-Growing Demand For B2C-like B2B eCommerce Experiences.”  I would say that the majority of the conversations we’re having today are to replace first generation B2B ecommerce websites.  While many are being redone because of a “stale” user experience, many are also being replatformed because they aren’t integrated with SAP® in real time and are causing significant customer satisfaction and organizational efficiency issues.  We love the fact that Magento integration is now a core competency of ours because that puts to bed…once and for all…all questions about website usability for B2B customers.  Of course, our core competency has always been integrating all those wonderful B2B transactions with SAP®.
  • “Increasing Channel Conflict Between Direct Sales Organizations and eCommerce Operations.”  When that part of your organization that manages your ecommerce operations is separate from your mainstream sales organization, it stands to reason you’re going to see channel conflict.  In organizations that developed a B2C website first, that’s usually the situation.  Our experience in the B2B world is that these are “mainstream” projects and there is a lot less conflict.  With that said, Salespeople are now potentially being squeezed out of the picture by a website that provides most of the value that they do (what’s my price?, is it available?, did it ship?, I lost my invoice, etc.) without having to pay the big commissions.  So I like to look at it as an evolution of the Salesforce.  They have to add value where the website may not be able to…yet.  Recruit new customers, launch new products, deal with gnarly support situations etc.
  • “Rising Demand For Scarce B2B eCommerce Talent”.  Actually, I think this is where Andy gets it totally wrong.  I don’t think there really is such a thing as specialized B2B ecommerce talent.  All the talent and knowledge that every organization needs to run a B2B ecommerce channel already exists in every organization that we meet with.The only thing they’re missing is expertise in the ecommerce technology stack itself.Their SAP® system already knows who their customers are, what products they can buy, what prices they should pay, how they like it delivered and what their credit limits are.  SAP® also knows what shipped, and when, and what is on backlog.  Customer Service Reps know how to deal with orders that are blocked and what to do with inventory related issues.  Every existing organization already knows how to transact business with their customers.The only thing they’re missing is expertise in the ecommerce technology stack itself. Most organizations we walk into also know how to organize and describe their products.  They have to… otherwise how could they sell them?  They already have content to produce pretty brochures and catalogues.  They may even have a website that they use to post that “brochureware” for their customers.

    The only thing they’re missing is expertise in the ecommerce technology stack itself.

    That’s where b2b2dot0 comes in.  We’re the ecommerce technology stack gurus.  We take the technology worries off the table and leave our clients to focus on what they do best…run their business.

Bottom line?

The industry is finally recognizing the role and value that B2B ecommerce websites provide to our GDP.  Thanks to the > $600M of bicycles, desks, wheelchairs, respirators, chainsaws and dental equipment that we help sell on the web, we’ve known that all along :-).

What’s next?  Bring on that deluge of B2B ecommerce orders.  We’re ready!