What B2B companies are seeking from their e-commerce solution

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The recent The Forrester Wave™: B2B Commerce Suites, Q2 2020 industry report identified the key aspects B2B businesses are looking for when seeking a new e-commerce solution. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has forced many offline B2B businesses to move to an online solution, and quickly. The importance of a SaaS solution becomes critical when short implementation times are required. The findings of the Forrester Research report demonstrate just how quickly the B2B sector is moving and the challenges it faces when trying to marry old, and often outdated, platforms with a B2B consumer who wants a sophisticated and seamless experience.

Interestingly, B2B businesses who are looking to upgrade their e-commerce solution are becoming increasingly educated about what the business and its customers need. At the top of the list, these companies need their chosen platform to be capable of supporting them as the business changes. According to the report, often those businesses looking to upgrade are asking simple questions of solution providers to ensure that they’re able to meet the needs of their own customers.

  1. Does your solution offer pre-built integrations?
  2. Does it provide relevant, industry-leading options?
  3. Has it moved to a cloud, SaaS or microservice based offering?
  4. Does it prioritise the business user experience?

 

B2B e-commerce is rapidly evolving in all of these areas, and they will be key focuses for businesses determined to deliver the best experience to their customers. So what do these four key elements offer?

Pre-built, deep integrations ensure that the solution integrates with existing systems, such as the ERP, and that is it administrable with common tooling, making it simple to administer. It will also require a solution where changes can be applied in real time in order to cater for a fast-paced environment.

Relevant, industry-leading options (both first- and third-party) ensure that a business is not forced to customise or accept the first solution a provider offers. B2B e-commerce solutions need to support different technologies and add on to produce a truly exceptional and tailored solution for the company and its customers.

Cloud based, SaaS or microservice based offering delivers assurance that the solution is quickly and easily updated. B2B businesses will also benefit from automatic scaling during high demand periods and truly version-less platforms where the upgrades are achieved seamlessly. This ensures that the service levels aren’t impacted, and the buyer receives a more integrated customer journey.

Prioritising the business user experience should be at the heart of every e-commerce platform. But what does this truly mean? When selecting a provider, B2B businesses need to check that the platform is intuitive, seamless, and easy to understand and navigate; with a simple process from first click to order.

Support and communication are critical in helping B2B businesses in overcoming the challenges that they face on a day to day basis and to help them continually adapt the solution that is being provided to make the B2B customer journey as efficient as possible.  The Forrester Wave report reviewed suppliers of B2B e-commerce solutions, scoring them on a number of factors, which highlight the importance of these features in delivering market leading e-commerce stores. This included providers ability to offer their customers ‘exceptional support and communication.’

Managing complexity is also essential; often markets, such as mid-marketing manufacturing or wholesale for example, have their own specific nuanced buying processes that can add complexity to the e-commerce offering. Here integration with ERP systems is vital. These complex environments can lead to customised products that are not a simple ‘grab and go’ purchase. An intuitive e-commerce system that can present data in real time – or a single source of truth reflecting exactly what is going on whether that’s at the front or back end – can help to simplify the buying stages.

For companies who have recently found limitations with either ‘out-of-the-box’ or conversely heavyweight e-commerce platforms, utilising insights and reviews from independent research firms, such as this Forrester report, can be incredibly useful in evaluating next steps. And as the e-commerce market continues to develop, understanding the impact of new feature and trends in functionality on their business will help them deliver the best customer experience and in turn ahead of the competition.