B2B e-commerce, as we know it today, has developed in phases.
For years, the inception of online sales (and businesses’ subsequent rush to build out a preliminary online experience) has been known as E-Commerce 1.0, or first-generation e-commerce.
First-generation e-commerce was about stepping into online sales for the first time and allowing previously offline sales processes to become virtual ones.
This allowed for a new symbiotic relationship to thrive between businesses and customers: web stores gave businesses access to a more extensive breadth of potential customers while also giving customers constant access to a business and its products.
But first-generation e-commerce was simply the stepping stone to something bigger. It was the foundation for a more robust and customer-focused phase of e-commerce: E-Commerce 2.0.
How E-Commerce Has Developed
As consumers and businesses have evolved, first-generation e-commerce has begun to fall short. Why? Because customers want more from their online experiences, and businesses want to deliver.
Consumers don’t just want to browse and shop. They want to be able to browse and shop as well as view their order history, find past invoices, get product recommendations, etc. First generation e-commerce solutions lacked the features required to deliver a strong and competitive customer experience. Thus, we ushered in E-Commerce 2.0 and began to add more customer-centric features and functionality to B2B web stores.
Nonetheless, many B2B brands are still holding onto their first-generation web stores. This means that customers today, who are already expecting much more from e-commerce, are often still dealing with the limitations of a first-generation experience.
In fact, according to research commissioned by Sana Commerce, as many as 84% of brands still fall under the first-generation e-commerce umbrella:
While you could argue that a slow-and-steady approach to e-commerce evolution isn’t a debilitating problem (yet), there is a growing list of challenges that these lagging B2B businesses are facing as a result of an outdated e-commerce approach.
First-Generation E-Commerce in a Next-Gen World
Most B2B businesses who sell online today set out to drive business success with an additional, thriving sales channel. Primarily, their goals were (and continue to be) sales-oriented:
However, businesses that are still serving customers a first-generation web store are discovering the limitations of an e-commerce strategy that has not evolved alongside technology, their customers or the market.
In fact, while most businesses decided to sell online to drive more sales, it has instead become one of the major challenges faced by businesses still in the E-Commerce 1.0 phase.
It is just one among many, including but not limited to:
- We are not driving enough sales / we need to increase sales
- We are inefficiently reaching prospects and customers on multiple channels (omnichannel, B2B2C).
- We have inefficient, manual internal processes that are prone to errors
- Our customer experience doesn't meet expectations
- We don’t offer an ERP-integrated e-commerce solution
- Our outdated software doesn’t serve current business needs
- We're limited in what we can do with our current web store design.
- We don't currently offer sufficient (B2B) functionality.
If these obstacles sound familiar, it’s certainly a frustrating roadblock, but there’s no need to worry. Why? Because integrated e-commerce solutions like Sana Commerce can help overcome these challenges and push your business forward into E-Commerce 2.0 (and beyond).
How Integrated E-Commerce (and Sana Commerce) Can Help
Today, 76% of B2B organizations plan on upgrading their simple web store to a next-generation solution that can utilize existing business and customer data to provide the features demanded by customers. (Read: 76% of B2B businesses are headed in the right direction).
With Sana’s e-commerce solution, your ERP becomes the central data hub and the engine for your e-commerce experience. Building your web store with data from your ERP means that your first-generation e-commerce concerns can be easily taken care of. Your web store is always up-to-date and accurate, and your product portfolio (no matter how extensive) is reflected online. Taking care of e-commerce basics also means you can take your e-commerce experience a step further.
Allowing your Dynamics NAV or Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP to drive your web store experience means that you can eliminate siloed data on the back-end, while leveraging customer data and business logic to create a more robust web store on the front-end. You can pull information from your ERP, such as inventory information or customer data, to tell your customers when a product is low in stock, or to recommend a re-order based on a past purchase. In short: an integrated e-commerce approach lets you quickly and easily check off the fundamentals of first-generation e-commerce, so you can focus on a more future-facing, customer-centric strategy.
Attend our webinar on November 6, 2018 at 10 am CST / 11 am EST to learn more.
Read Sana Commerce’s 2018-19 Digital Transformation and B2B E-Commerce Report for more insights on e-commerce maturity today and beyond (or reach out directly here).