B2B eCommerce Integration: Getting to the Next Level
Despite the recent boom in B2B eCommerce adoption, the idea of B2B eCommerce is not entirely new for B2B companies. But according to Peter Sheldon, former Vice President and Technology Analyst at Forrester Research, those early B2B eCommerce investments were implemented “five to ten years ago. It’s rudimentary––real basic e-commerce.” Today, as B2B companies prioritize eCommerce and look to implement a new generation of B2B eCommerce platforms, many are realizing the complexities involved in building a streamlined, effective B2B eCommerce channel. They are becoming wise to the fact that in order to move beyond that early “rudimentary” stage, they must carefully consider their eCommerce integration strategies.
The Importance of eCommerce Integration
Traditionally, B2B buyers have placed orders mostly during in-person meetings with sales reps and at trade shows. With the advent of B2B eCommerce, however, companies are looking to create omnichannel experiences similar to those in the B2C world, allowing customers to place orders both in person and online. Some companies are even realizing that they can serve some customers more profitably online by making it easy for customers to place re-orders with just a few clicks. This frees up time for sales reps to focus on cross-selling and up-selling during key in-person meetings rather than handling standing reorders. It also gives customer service reps––who would otherwise be fielding calls for incoming orders––the ability to take a more proactive approach to serving customers. To provide a truly omnichannel experience––one where customers are able to work seamlessly between both online and in-person channels––an eCommerce integration needs to exist between B2B eCommerce platforms and back office systems to track orders coming in from both channels. Some companies are even investing in B2B commerce technology platforms that offer a mobile order writing component for sales reps and B2B eCommerce on desktop and mobile, so that sales rep and B2B eCommerce orders are managed in the same platform. Those orders can then be synced to back office ERP systems for fulfillment. This kind of eCommerce integration has several benefits, including:
- Increased visibility into all of a customer’s interactions and transactions with the brand.
- Ensuring personalization, including customer-specific catalogs and pricing, remains consistent across online/offline experiences.
- The ability to provide real-time inventory data to sales reps and customers (via an ERP integration, for example), that enables more strategic decision-making.
Thinking about your eCommerce integration strategy, or just beginning to consider B2B eCommerce for your business? Let us know in the comments.