Can I Run Multiple Digital Business Models With One Commerce Platform?
Over the last year at Elastic Path, we have seen more and more brands who need to run digital commerce for multiple business models. Whether they are a B2B business launching D2C for the first time, or a D2C brand getting into B2B2C for the first time, more and more companies are looking for solutions to help them power all routes-to-market. In this post we will:
- Explore this trend
- Discuss why Salesforce Commerce Cloud struggles to support multiple business
- Explain how we support all routes-to-market with one platform at Elastic Path
The State of the Market: Majority of Brands Power Multiple Models
And we aren’t the only ones witnessing this trend. In Gartner’s latest “Survey Analysis: Digital Commerce Revenue Skyrockets With B2B Surpassing B2C” report, they share the same phenomenon. According to their analysis:
67% of respondents are doing both B2B & B2C in some capacity.
What Is Causing This Shift?
Based on what we have seen and industry analysis, I think there are a few reasons why brands are embracing multiple business models:
- Opportunity to Drive Revenue: If you are able to successfully launch and manage multiple digital business models at once, your total addressable market increases. This means you have more people to sell to and therefore more revenue to collect. Of course, running multiple models will increase your total cost, but if done correctly, your margin will increase too.
- Increased Acceptance of Digital: I sound like a broken record but, the Pandemic encouraged plenty of buyers and customers to come online for the first time ever. This is especially true for many B2B businesses who previously never had digital channels. With the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic more B2B brands were forced into figuring out digital commerce since it was the only way to connect with their buyers. Since then, we have seen many of these brands updating or enhancing their eCommerce technology to meet new needs.
- Ability to Leverage Existing Resources: While adding a new business model to your digital commerce strategy will always involve some effort, you have the benefit of being able to maximize existing resources. This includes everything from your existing supply chain to the technology that you have invested in and implemented. More often than not, these resources can be repurposed in some way when adding a new business model.
What is the Difference Between Salesforce Commerce Cloud & Elastic Path Commerce Cloud?
Salesforce Commerce Cloud customers are turning to Elastic Path for a single platform for support their entire commerce strategy across B2B, D2C, and B2B2C.See the Comparison
Finding a Commerce Platform to Support Multiple Business Models
I decided to write this blog because, as previously mentioned, we have seen a huge uptick in the number of brands specifically looking to run digital commerce for multiple business models. This means that we have been answering many questions about how we do this at Elastic Path versus how other commerce platforms do it. Consistently, this question seems to be focused around a Salesforce Commerce Cloud comparison. For the rest of this blog, I will speak to that in detail.
Unpacking How Salesforce Supports Multiple Business Models
At Salesforce, they have four separate platforms commerce. First, there are two B2B platforms, one comes from the Cloudcraze acquisition and one is an updated B2B commerce solution built on Salesforce Lightning (a component-based framework for app development) that will eventually replace Cloudcraze. Second, there are also two B2C platforms. The most famous is the acquired Demandware technology which is not, and never will be, built on Lightning since it is a legacy stack. Salesforce has also built a specific platform on lightning for B2B brands who want to add D2C. Plus, if you want to use CPQ, that is an entirely separate purchase not included in any of the above mentioned solutions. Are you confused yet?
In short, this means that the vast majority of brands will have to select and work with two separate platforms. There are some key challenges with this approach:
- Multiple Disparate Commerce Teams: when you have separate platforms, you generally need separate teams with differing types of experience to run each technology. This can create a silo internally which, unfortunately, often leads to inconsistent branding experiences externally. And, while B2B and B2C experiences should be different, they should have some aspect of branding continuity across them.
- Confusion: having multiple solutions can complicate internal communications, strategy conversations, and general organization. Often times managing these totally separate, but related, platforms creates confusion that interrupts internal productivity.
- Cost: While your license cost may be the same whether or not you use one or multiple platforms, you will have to pay double for many other aspects of your strategy. For instance, two implementations, separate customizations across platforms, additional team members to work on each product, and more.
There are some situations where you may be told by Salesforce that you can run both your B2B and B2C commerce on one platform. While it is technically possible, we would urge you to evaluate this approach with caution for a few reasons:
- You can technically support lite B2B with the legacy Demandware platform however it has severe limitations. A good example of this is that you cannot support true account-based pricing. While tiered accounts are available, it is impossible to set up pricing for different accounts who have specific negotiated pricing. Based on our experience, this is a pretty core feature for B2B brands and not supporting it would be massively detrimental.
- On the other hand, you can support a lite B2C site with legacy Cloudcraze but, the storefront is incredibly basic and unlikely to meet the needs of any brand who wants to power B2C digital commerce. And, if you have aspirations to power omnichannel B2C experiences, this platform will simply not be robust enough for your needs.
To summarize, while it is possible to support B2B and B2C with one Salesforce platform, the customer experience you could power for one business model would be very basic and likely involve an extreme amount of custom work to even come close to meeting your requirements.
Unpacking How Elastic Path Supports Multiple Business Models
At Elastic Path we believe that brands should be able to power their commerce business across business models, brands, geographies, campaigns, and channels with one platform. For that reason, we built Elastic Path Commerce Cloud to support every business model a brand may want to power today or launch tomorrow. While customers like Pella Windows & Doors and Hobie Cat power their D2C experiences on Elastic Path, others are selling their B2B products using the same platform.
There are two key capabilities that make this possible. First, EP Product Experience Manager (PXM) allows brands to import, enrich, and organize their product data in whatever way suits them. This means that you can bring in product data for both B2B and B2C models (if different) from whatever external sources that you may have. Then, you can create unique pricebooks per model, or even per account in a B2B scenario. You have the ultimate flexibility to assign multiple pricebooks to the same product so that a B2C customer would pay $20, but B2B Customer A would pay $18 and B2B Customer B would pay $16. This is all brought to life by our Catalog Composer capability which allows you to compose unlimited catalogs from products assortments (known as hierarchies) and price books. These two capabilities give brands the flexibility to manage products, prices, and catalogs to support any business model from one place.
And, for those who are concerned about how to get started with a Composable Commerce approach, at Elastic path we have Pre-Composed Solutions™ for B2B, B2C, and D2C to help you quickly launch with any business model. Pre-Composed Solutions™ are business-ready, complete solutions built on top of Elastic Path Commerce Cloud that pre-integrated core commerce capabilities, third party solutions (like search, CMS, and personalization), and any other customizations to bring a specific use case or business model to life in record time. By removing the manual effort of composing, or integrating, multiple technologies, these solutions minimize the risk of a Composable Commerce approach. Especially for those who need to power multiple business models.
To summarize, for any brand who currently runs multiple business models across digital channels, or for brands who plan to expand their digital routes-to-market in the future, I would encourage you to choose a digital commerce platform that makes supporting multiple business models as simple as possible. If you aren’t sure how to get started, one of our commerce experts would be happy to walk through your digital commerce strategy and provide some suggestions.
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