In the past, many B2B companies have been slow to adopt e-commerce. An eMarker report predicted that only 9% of all B2B product sales in the US were made through an e-commerce website.
However, the pandemic has served as a catalyst for many B2Bs to accelerate their digital transformation. For example, eMarker also reports that the company’s average revenue share driven by e-commerce before and during COVID-19 has increased by an average of 23%.
Complex requirements can turn into reservations about selling online, or reservations about re-cladding a bespoke or monolithic solution.
But these fears don’t have to stand in the way of success. We reached out to Lori McDonald, CEO of Brilliance Business Solutions, to find out how to find the right B2B ecommerce solution.
For those who have never had a B2B ecommerce solution, what are your main objections to selling online?
One reason that is becoming rarer now, but I certainly still hear from B2B companies, is that their customers don’t buy that way. Since products are really complex, people need to speak to a seller – they won’t be placing an order online. I think this rationale is changing.
Some other hurdles are the fear that ecommerce will compete with its sales team. Many manufacturers and distributors have built their business on their sales team. That was their road to success, and they don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes their work.
Another existing hurdle is that these organizations often do not have in-house digital know-how. You have never had to sell online before and have no experience with B2B ecommerce software. From that perspective, there are certainly strategies, as well as e-commerce features and functions, that can make the transition easier.
What do you recommend for them to overcome these challenges so they can start selling online?
What I recommend to organizations that have never sold online before is to sell something online. It may initially be a parts store, or you can find a segment of your products that you want to sell. This allows you to gain internal experience from which you can learn and build on.
And that’s one of the great things about BigCommerce’s B2B ecommerce solution. The platform allows you to get started and try a few things out; Then scale your investment over time.
This is where the sales team buy-in is so important. Some sales teams, or even owners, have the mindset that ecommerce means replacing sellers or you no longer need them. This mindset is a myth. E-commerce does not replace salespeople. Done right, it supports them. Your salespeople are so important. An online store is a tool for your sellers to help them do their jobs easier and sell more.
Ecommerce Compensation for Sales
Check out this additional resource from Brilliance that explains how e-commerce sales compensation is structured.
How does BigCommerce’s B2B ecommerce software make it easier for those with less experience to get started?
There are numerous features and functions within the BigCommerce platform that can help alleviate some of the challenges of selling for the first time online.
For example, contract pricing and custom pricing for customers were part of BigCommerce’s naive functionality even before the B2B edition. It’s really great because you can allow customers to log in and see a certain price that is unique to them.
When you think of your sales team and strengthen that customer relationship, BigCommerce B2B Edition comes in handy as it allows multiple users to log in per account. Sales reps can create quotes for customers, or customers can request their own quotes, and customers can buy from a list.
These are B2B ecommerce software features that support the customer’s relationship with sales and allow your ecommerce site to become an extension of your sales team.
What do you recommend to companies that are already online but are looking for a new B2B e-commerce solution?
Understand the platform’s capabilities aligned with strategies that will help you make more money. So when you’re thinking about your roadmap and thinking about what you want to achieve in B2B – you may want to enable punchout or take advantage of new email marketing features – look for a platform with connectors to other systems who do this make the process straightforward and less resource intensive.
Also, prioritize a B2B ecommerce solution that is easy for your marketers, sales reps, and administrators to use without contacting their IT team. I know a lot of companies are still using a legacy solution that can be custom or self-developed. The challenge, however, is that it is often limited by what a marketer can edit and change to promote new products or get other tasks done quickly.
Even if you have an in-house development team, it’s much better to use it for some really great innovative new functionality that improves the customer experience rather than doing things that a platform could help your team with.
What do you think are the most important values of multi-tenant SaaS versus monolithic or legacy B2B ecommerce software?
Well there are a couple of things. First, low total cost of ownership. For example, let’s say you want to add a new feature or there is a new browser version that you need to support. With a legacy or custom solution, you may find yourself in a situation where you continually spend your development resources making sure you support a new feature or browser version – or just keep the platform alive.
In my experience, we’ve had platforms we’ve worked with where merchants could spend $ 100,000 to set up the site and then $ 50,000 every time they wanted to upgrade – simply because it was customized that way . Instead, companies are better off spending their resources on innovative new features that can drive sales.
The other reason I think multi-tenant SaaS has a real advantage is because of the idea that ecommerce solutions like BigCommerce are constantly adding new features, functions, and capabilities that businesses can take advantage of without additional ones on their part To have to do development work.
That won’t be true when you have a bespoke solution. And even with other platforms on the market, if your development team or an external development partner has to work on the upgrade for weeks or months in order to benefit from the features, you often do not get the latest version for cost reasons.
How does Brilliance Business Solutions help companies transition from a legacy or custom platform to a SaaS B2B e-commerce solution?
One of the biggest challenges for many organizations with a custom application or legacy solution is that they don’t necessarily understand all of the features and functionality that they have developed over time. Or they may know, but because it has been gradually adjusted over time, they haven’t documented it well.
So at Brilliance Business Solutions we get our team of business analysts and software architects to help identify technical requirements, including ERP integrations and specific business rules, and then we put together a technical plan that keeps dealers up to date brings about their new B2B e-commerce solution – on time and on budget. We even have a punctuality and budget guarantee.
It can be scary for companies making the move to something new, and for good reason. There is fear of IT projects like this one because there have been many instances where they have gone wrong. Knowing that you’ve had an entire team that has done this type of work multiple times builds trust.
Headless as an option for B2B is much discussed. What is your opinion? Do you think B2B ecommerce companies want headless?
I think it really comes down to the company. Headless commerce usually makes more sense for larger companies that have already made significant investments in an enterprise CMS and do not want to replace it. they just want to add commerce functionality.
For me, while there is a business case for headless, the challenge is that it is more expensive to implement. You lose some of the lesser total cost of ownership benefits.
For companies that have never done e-commerce before and are just starting out, assuming they’re less than a $ 500 million company, I don’t see many people opting to start headless in this scenario. I think it’s usually the bigger companies that have a system that they can’t replace, but they want to expand it.
Get started with a B2B ecommerce solution from BigCommerce
Are you ready to take the plunge and sell online with a B2B ecommerce solution designed to make you successful? Then check out the BigCommerce B2B Edition. You will find all the features you need to overcome the complexities and make B2B sales easier.