With B2B buyers desiring richer digital experiences, eCommerce vendors need to evolve the product offerings to include capabilities that enable B2B sellers to deliver personalized, job-specific experiences for research, quoting, purchasing, payment, and account management.
The Forrester WaveTM: B2B Commerce Suites Q1 2017 provides guidance from industry analysts for B2B enterprises seeking an eCommerce software partner who will offer an optimized and innovative solution.
- Cloud eCommerce offerings from vendors with smaller market presence can compete on strategy, features, and total cost of ownership against vendors with larger market presence and traditional on-premise solutions.
- Exceedingly strong execution is required to maintain presence in the Leader category and a global brand is no longer a differentiator. For example, Oracle and IBM fell out of the leaders group in The Forrester WaveTM: B2B Commerce Suites Q1 2017 after having occupied leader positions for nearly 5 years. Oracle faces broad execution challenges from the acquisition of NetSuite and wholesale re-platforming of Oracle ATG into the Oracle Commerce Cloud. IBM was challenged to deliver a compelling vision for B2B commerce and reduce total cost of ownership.
- B2B-specific experiences rather than “Amazon like” experiences are table stakes to be considered a leader. Intershop now provides order management capabilities in addition to consistently strong core B2B commerce. Insite provides salesperson-centric capabilities to support traditional B2B channels and integrated, easy to use management tools for sellers. Hybris remains the leader with industry-specific B2B solutions albeit at a higher cost than many competitors.
- Smaller, nimble competitors with modern architectures can challenge the leaders. CloudCraze achieved a significant increase in strength of strategy while also increasing in strength of offering. The “cloud first” strategy coupled with new features resulted in the largest positive move from 2015 to 2017.
Avionos Point of View
Avionos recommends that B2B enterprises use The Forrester WaveTM as an input to identifying potential eCommerce software partners, and for B2B enterprises to monitor changes in The Forrester WaveTM to stay up-to-date on changes in the B2B technology landscape. The Avionos point of view adds practitioner experience to the conversation.
B2B is not B2C
“Amazon-like” experiences do not address B2B buyer needs such as tiered pricing, multiple user and multiple location account management, complex quoting and configuration, reordering, and a variety of payment terms. B2B procurement is part of the buyer’s job – research, purchasing and support experiences need to address the complex needs of B2B buyers. Enterprises should be wary of platforms claiming to have “Amazon-like” experiences rather than B2B-specific experiences for the key moments in the B2B buying journey. Leaders can provide these experiences for a variety of backend ERP and CRM systems, with strong performers including CloudCraze focusing on specific backend technologies such as Salesforce.
B2B & the Cloud
Cloud solutions can provide significant speed-to-value advantages over on-premise alternatives if the B2B seller is willing to use out-of-the-box templates and limit the number of integrations required for the initial site launch. However, companies may not realize full potential if the platform does not provide the experiences expected by B2B buyers including discoverability via SEO, fast page load speeds, personalized onsite search and personalized buying experiences.
Wave leaders will continue to incorporate features into cloud offerings and build out modern architectures such as micro-services, while strong performers must make a strategic decision to achieve feature parity with leaders or invest in differentiators at the cost of having feature gaps compared to higher performing competitors. B2B sellers should closely evaluate core features and ability to deliver innovative, differentiating solutions.
Optimize the Mobile Experience
For most B2B buyers, access to a mobile buying experience is expected, especially for buyers that work at a job site or otherwise in the field. Most vendors provide mobile, browser-based buying experiences. B2B experiences will rapidly extend to the seller’s mobile device with tools that place back office capabilities like ERP, CRM and content capabilities into the hands of the seller.
Until the “death of a B2B salesman” scenario occurs, B2B sellers productivity and effectiveness is dramatically enhanced with tools to engage customers at the jobsite, on the factory floor, and in the purchasing office. The next version of The Forrester WaveTM for commerce likely will include evaluation of mobile selling capabilities such as recommendations and quoting tools that meet those needs. To provide these enhanced engagement tools, the industry is likely to see continued acquisitions bringing together eCommerce vendors, CPQ vendors and sales enablement vendors seeking broader coverage of the complex B2B selling use-cases.
It is apparent the future of B2B commerce will unfold in the cloud, and Avionos’ mission includes enabling commerce in the cloud for every B2B business, making enablement and operation of online commerce easier and with more predictable and better outcomes. Our team provides leadership in eCommerce strategy, platform implementation, and digital channel operations; and Avionos partners with leading cloud vendors such as Salesforce, Adobe, CloudCraze, Acquia, CommerceTools, and others to deliver meaningful business results.
Contact Avionos today to learn more about the vendors in The Forrester WaveTM or how Avionos can help you grow your online channel.