Technology is disrupting ecommerce business models in the B2C channels, but businesses in the B2B channels are not far behind.
B2B companies generally have operated offline in relationship-based models. Until recently, they have been wary of going online, or adopting online ecommerce technologies, but more B2B businesses are going digital and moving their operations to the cloud. According to a B2B business survey, about 59% of B2B businesses are already looking for a viable ecommerce business solution, while nearly 24% are planning to have B2B ecommerce in the next six months. Of the B2B businesses surveyed, 80% feel that technology is key to their survival. For many B2B businesses, B2C is their benchmark.
The future is bright for B2B ecommerce. Ted magazine declared that “B2B ecommerce is on a tear and set to grow even more over the next few years.” Frost & Sullivan’s Future of B2B Online Retailing Report forecasted global B2B ecommerce to reach $6.7 trillion in 2020 and B2B ecommerce in the US to reach $1.9 trillion by 2020.
According to Frost & Sullivan, online marketplaces like Alibaba and AmazonSupply are leading the B2B space as more companies buy and sell online with mobile devices becoming popular for placing online orders. Amazon, which has dominated the B2C marketplace, is moving to B2B and looking to dominate it as well.
If your B2B customers are not asking for online transaction platforms, they will. The problem is that many companies are still uncertain if they can sell effectively online because their business is invariably more complex than those of B2C and often, they are relationship-driven. Yet, they also recognized that doing business online has become a necessity to remain competitive. According to Forrester, B2B companies can substantially decrease sales costs of up to 90 percent by directing customers to an online ecommerce environment.
One key component of a successful B2B ecommerce implementation is access to real-time inventory information. This is one of the most requested information by B2B customers. To accomplish this, your ecommerce platform has to be tied to a back-end ERP or inventory management system so that buyers can access real-time inventory levels. This integration eliminates frustrations related to backordering and shipment delays and leads to increase customer satisfaction.
The opportunities in B2B ecommerce are enormous over the next 12 months. The question becomes - can your B2B platform handle the growth? Simply deciding to implement B2B ecommerce does not guarantee success. You need to have the right software integration to support your B2B business.