Want your B2B eCommerce site to drive more sales?

Be more like B2C, advises IBM’s Pete Wharton.

In a recent IBM-sponsored Total Retail webinar, Pete tag-teamed with Terence Jukes, president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence, and Joe Keenan, editor of Total Retail, to teach us how.

First, it’s helpful to step back and consider what’s changed in the market.

“The marketplace has changed dramatically and it’s not going back,” warns Pete Wharton. “You either embrace change or lose to the competition.”

He then points to three key marketplace shifts:

  • We’re in the age of the empowered customer, and customer expectations continue to grow to unprecedented levels. “If they don’t get a good experience, they’ll walk,” says Pete. “It’s far too easy for them to find an alternative.”
  • We’re inundated by data, but data by itself is worthless unless we can quickly gain insights and act on them.
  • We need to know more about our customers so we can build intimacy and long-term relationships.

But here’s the disconnect:

Gartner Statistics - B2B eCommerce strategy - marketplace disconnect

Source: Gartner


When it comes to B2B eCommerce strategy, let’s put it this way: If we personalize the shopping experience and help buyers complete purchases faster, with no hassle or confusion, sales will increase.

It’s something the B2C market has done well, but B2B? Not so much.

Part of the challenge, of course, is that B2B is often much more complex than B2C. Your product or service might require guided selling and configuration, for example. Your sales process might include multiple market segments, channels, product lines and divisions. Plus, back-end fulfillment might involve multiple internal and external systems.

But that’s where the opportunity lies: The right platform can hide that complexity from customers, making it easier for buyers and partners to do business with you.

Here’s a webinar snapshot of where business goals meet customer needs:

b2b ecommerce strategy - where business goals meet customer needs - BlueSky Technology Partners

How do you make that happen?

In the interest of our limited space and time together, we’ll highlight key attributes of an agile (and profitable) eCommerce platform.

First, an agile business environment:

  • Responds quickly and dynamically to demand peaks.
  • Accelerates new promotions and offers, with the ability to respond immediately to competitor moves and market shifts.
  • Innovates with rapid time to market by integrating with pre-built solutions.

That agile environment should enable the following B2B eCommerce capabilities:

  • Support multiple business models (B2B, B2C, distribution, partners, value chain)
  • Business process support (marketing, onboarding, selling and supporting, end-to-end)
  • Extended sites (multiple tiers, partners, brands and geos from a single instance)
  • Contracts (supporting complex contracts with partner-specific catalog, pricing, terms)
  • Policies (automate rules and practices)
  • Approvals (flexible order approval process for buyers and RFQ response for sellers)
  • Member management (organization, users, access control)
  • Merchandising & selling (catalog filters, bundles, kits, product configuration, guided selling)
  • New mobile capabilities (rich, interactive experiences across devices)
  • Robust business user controls (governance and control to manage users submitting requisition list, large and saved orders)

It’s a big list, but Pete emphasizes IBM’s eCommerce solutions aren’t just for big business: “Don’t assume IBM won’t work for your SMB company.” In the end, all of these components are about simplifying buying and selling processes, both for you and your customers.

In Part 2 of our webinar recap, we’ll continue our discussion with three (3) questions the experts gave to help you define and prioritize your eCommerce strategy. You’ll also learn what our experts had to say about B2B marketplaces like Amazon and eBay: How can they benefit businesses?

Until then, think “ease of use”: How can you make buying easier for your customers, while making life easier and more efficient for your organization?

[Jump to Part 2 to learn how to define and prioritize your B2B eCommerce strategy.]

Or if you’re feeling lost and would like to consult with a BlueSky eCommerce strategist, reach out now.