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Oct 15, 2018 | 3 minute read

B2B ecommerce: the four challenges to face for long-term growth

written by Kristin Schepici

Commerce innovation is not just for retailers and consumer brands, business-to-business organizations must capitalize on the disruptive trends that are emerging. It’s either innovate or die. When B2B buyers leave the office, they become those same B2C buyers; and they all still demand remarkable customer experiences

So, what does this mean for organizations and bringing B2B ecommerce strategies to the next level? It’s all about the disruption. Digitally disrupt your organization now in order to create frictionless commerce experiences for your customers.   

According to Forrester, B2B ecommerce is on track to hit $1.2 trillion in the US by 2021. Therefore, it is imperative for B2B merchants to forge ahead faster with their digital transformation.  

Before setting out on this digital transformation journey, let’s go over the challenges the industry currently faces and what to look for in the search for B2B ecommerce technology partners.

Time-honored analog relationships 

B2B buyers expect sellers to know what their SLAs include, including any specific negotiated pricing and order history - often this information is not a part of the digital buying experience. To overcome this, organizations need to look for vendor’s technology capabilities that allow their business to set up account specific buying experiences for each customer.   

Managing multifacetedpurchase flows 

Buyers have more product and service selections than ever before. Those businesses that don’t meet the customer expectations that include personalization and contextualization, run the risk of losing those once time-honored relationships mentioned above. B2B organizations need to understand how a technology partner will digitalize those complex purchase flows for them. All too often the platform is not set up to handle the digitalization of the work flow, especially if it is account-specific. Organizations need to see how technology partners can drill down into this. A demo of specific use cases ensures the technology partner has experience working with such instances. Selecting a platform partner that allows for this, enables sales teams to shift from order-takers to nurturing customer-relationship managers – hence increasing order and relationship value.

Global growth and efficiency  

Managing global expansions can be a daunting task when approaching the laundry list of local requirements and supply chain complexities in each county. A global ecommerce strategy, if that is a part of the big picture plans, must be included in the platform discussions to ensure the technology can be configured to allow for meeting those country and buyer-specific requirements.

Disjointed legacy systems 

The bane of all ecommerce practitioners regardless of sector or industry are those pesky legacy systems still lingering around. Legacy applications and organizational silos prevent companies from taking advantage of new technologies and customer touchpoints. Platform selection needs to include one that empowers your business to rapidly experiment with and implement changes without friction; such as headless commerce which allows for a more modular and modern solution. With an API-driven headless solution, you build what you want, when you want. You’re no longer limited to the capabilities of your monolithic platform, but rather build with your customers’ expectations guiding the way.  

Remember it is all about the customer, so partnering with an ecommerce platform that supports your long-term growth is key to success.