B2B eCommerce Has Arrived

Last month, IRCE hosted its first-ever B2B eCommerce content track at its big show in Chicago.   500+ attended my keynote session in the morning...and Grainger’s VP of eCommerce, Paul Miller, saw similar turnout for his presentation later in the day.  All in all, impressive numbers for an inaugural session series.

In 2012, Oracle hosted the lone B2B eCommerce event.  But by my count, 2013 will see at least six exclusively B2B eCommerce shows: IRCE B2B eCommerce track, Oracle B2B Commerce Summit, hybris Gameplan Chicago, hybris Gameplan Berlin, B2B eCommerce Congress, and B2B Multichannel. In short, B2B eCommerce has arrived. 

To that end, I’m happy to report that I’ve published two pieces of research in the last few months that explore how and why B2B companies are delivering high quality eCommerce online (and on mobile devices as well):   

  • The Case For Channel-Shifting Customers Online. See how Forrester surveyed 45 B2B eCommerce executives to understand how they quantify the revenue opportunities and cost savings associated with moving traditionally offline customers online. Learn how leading B2B eCommerce operations report generating revenue, reducing costs, and leveraging new customer engagement opportunities by "channel-shifting" their offline customers online.  
  • Five Keys To Effective B2B eCommerce. Discover how B2B eCommerce organizations are segmenting their online customers, as well as their online-influenced offline customers, and performing detailed SWOT analyses in order to target their customers with unique value propositions.  See how those same B2B companies are building world-class eCommerce operations by acquiring the right people, adopting the right processes, and implementing the right technologies.

However, despite all of the solid evidence of eCommerce’s transformative value…and the existence of detailed strategies for getting started…some B2B companies remain on the fence about eCommerce.  Even while their competitors are beginning to lap them, they continue to hold out. 


What do you think?  


Great reports! And I agree.

Great reports! And I agree.

It's surprising that companies who saw the fallout from those who were late to the B2C eCommerce game are not taking more aggressive action. Having worked for a brand manufacturer with a wholesale focus, I get that many are still playing catch up on the B2C front and totally consumed with replacing other enterprise legacy systems. For many it's a prioritization challenge and B2B has been losing that battle. On the positive notes, I'm getting a lot more headhunter calls for companies looking for a B2B executive with extensive B2C experience...I guess some are getting it.

thanks again. I'll be following.

Organization and Culture

Thanks Andy. In working with a variety of both B2B and B2C eCommerce companies, it seems the biggest barrier is cultural – a classic change management issue. While evidence of success and playbooks exist – as illustrated in the two reports you mention above – there seem to be a number of common barriers. (1) Organizationally, eCommerce still does not have a clear-cut “home” in many B2B organizations. While a VP of eCommerce / Multi-Channel / Omni-Channel is becoming ubiquitous for consumer-oriented companies, we still see B2B eCommerce reporting to IT, or Marketing, or Corporate Communications, or elsewhere. (2) Effective eCommerce relies on marketing and merchandising; those disciplines are different in B2B than in B2C, and some of the proven B2B practices do not translate as well to a world of digital commerce. (3) Finally, there are often entrenched mindsets related to sales incentives, channel conflict, and ownership of both revenue and customer relationships. Retailers had this early on, but with the size of an average customer being much higher in B2B (vs. a consumer), and with the importance of sales organizations, it is can be more problematic in B2B.