B2B Commerce Trends: 4 Transformative Technologies

Allen Malapit
March 7, 2016

After a long dry spell filled with legacy solutions and little else, technology is finally catching up in the manufacturing and wholesale distribution space. Today, several new technologies are helping these companies increase sales effectiveness on the front lines, give buyers more autonomy to make B2B purchases, and streamline order processing. Let’s take a look at 4 of the key technologies that are fundamentally changing how manufacturers and distributors do business.

B2B Commerce Trends: 4 Technologies Changing Manufacturing & Wholesale Distribution

1. Mobile Order Writing Solutions

Mobile order writing solutions are part of a key shift in focus among manufacturers and distributors towards investing in technology to improve how sales reps interact with customers. Where reps were once selling with paper product catalogs that would quickly become outdated and cumbersome cases full of product samples, these applications are now giving reps a wealth of information––from digital catalogs to customer order history––all stored in familiar smartphone and tablet devices. Mobile order writing solutions are also automating the order submission process. Instead of submitting orders on paper, as it has traditionally been done, orders can be synced directly to the back office for fulfillment, eliminating the need for time-consuming data entry, reducing errors, and speeding up fulfillment times. This technology is actually helping to carve out a new role for sales reps, allowing them to transition from operational “order takers” to more strategic business partners.

2. B2B eCommerce Software

B2B eCommerce has built a good amount of buzz in the last few years. As B2B buyers grow more accustomed to the ease of online purchasing in their consumer lives, it only makes sense that they would also expect the same convenience in their work lives. Indeed, a rapidly growing number of manufacturers and distributors are implementing B2B eCommerce portals to allow their customers to place orders online 24/7, aiming to provide the intuitive experience of a B2C eCommerce site while accommodating the complexities of B2B purchasing. The availability of relatively inexpensive, ready-to-go Software-as-a-Service solutions are leveling the playing field by making this technology accessible to SMBs as well as larger mid-market and enterprise companies.

3. Mobile eCommerce Software

An off-shoot of B2B eCommerce, B2B mobile commerce is the next logical step. As mobile devices become more powerful and ubiquitous than ever, B2B companies are seeking to offer native mobile applications to their customers and increase the convenience of online ordering even further (by allowing orders to be placed not just anytime but also anywhere). As part of an omnichannel strategy that allows customers to place orders via whatever medium they like, whether it’s through a sales rep, on a desktop computer, or a smartphone/tablet, mobile commerce is becoming a key differentiator for manufacturing and distribution companies.

4. Cloud ERP Software

As more business is conducted in the cloud, some manufacturers and distributors are making the decision to invest in cloud ERP solutions, rather than traditional on-premise systems. These cloud solutions are making it easier for SMBs and mid-market companies to implement enterprise resource planning systems with fewer IT staff, lower up-front costs, and fewer ongoing maintenance costs. These more flexible cloud ERP solutions are also becoming more appealing as businesses see a need to invest in other best-of-breed SaaS solutions for their B2B eCommerce and mobile order writing/order management needs. Questions about any of the technologies we covered here? Let us know in the comments!