ECommerce is coming to the enterprise. A recent study found that 93 percent of B2B companies are ready to move buying online, but making the transition is anything but easy. Craig Peasley, Head of Product Marketing for eBay Enterprise, sat down with PYMNTS to discuss why digitizing B2B commerce requires learning from B2C counterparts.
PYMNTS: The B2C experience is increasingly affecting B2B relationships and how B2B services and systems are addressing needs. Do you think that's just the nature of business being done online? What do you think is creating the change where there is more similarity between B2B and B2C?
CP: I think it's simple; it’s about how to do things quicker, faster and better. For B2B buyers the old way of doing things is much more time-consuming. When considering their goals at the end of the day, which is to generate sales and make their quotas, the online experience provides a much better path for them to do that.
Just looking at how business is being conducted shows more and more buyers are using mobile devices to get access to information, such as product catalogs from a wholesaler. That whole experience is changing. There are many more commonalities now between B2C and B2B in terms of usage behavior than there was in the past. There is no longer a real divide.
When it comes to something like leveraging mobile, branded manufacturers and wholesalers have to think about how to support an experience beyond just the desktop — across channels, including account teams and call centers, and across the various devices and formats. This is about getting business done in a more efficient and effective way, and B2B companies have discovered commerce platforms enable that to happen and may help future-proof their business.
One of the approaches B2B businesses may try is going all-in with moving towards the consumer experience. While you don't necessarily want to do that, it is still important to be able to provide a customized and personalized experience that enables customers to do what they need to do faster.
Here's a good example: If you have a buyer coming to your website to procure additional products and they are an existing client, you want to make it easier for them to do their business. Allowing them to fulfill a previous order with one-click or making the checkout experience more efficient by recognizing a payment method they used in the past can help to ease the purchasing process.
PYMNTS: A recent Forrester Research study showed 93 percent of B2B buyers prefer to purchase online with self-service information and ordering options from vendors. What's holding back the remaining 7 percent, and what's it going to take to win them over?
CP: I think what's holding them back, in addition to all the other B2B companies out there that have not made the change to embracing a digital strategy, is that the further they delay the more their business will be embattled. Many of their competitors are going to be able to do business better, and so their clients might make a switch at some point.
Companies need to embrace the changing trends and behaviors to help drive their business moving forward. Those that don't will certainly be left behind and may have a real fight on their hands going forward until they start to embrace that this is how their customers want to buy from them and engage with them. If they don't take that into account, I think it will hurt their ability to be successful in the future.
PYMNTS: How are you, as a business, trying to address these trends?
CP: Based on a lot of the recent research, the B2B category is ripe for disruption, primarily because it's still very old school and a lot of the business is conducted offline. B2B buyers are seeing the B2C experience they have online and are now expecting that manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors are going to offer the same type of experience to make their jobs easier to do.
We know from the Forrester Report that 93 percent of B2B buyers want to buy online. They want to do their research online, and they don't want to have to adhere to old standards of looking in catalogs and faxing in their orders to a manufacturer. The B2C experiences are now coming over to the B2B side, and that’s forcing manufacturers and wholesalers to reassess their business.
We are trying to provide a path to digitize their businesses. It is important to recognize the B2B business is unique and their desire to want to offer an experience that makes it easier for their buyers to buy from them — an experience that is personalized, fast and ensures they get the information they need.
PYMNTS: What does your platform offer businesses that want to follow this new path?
CP: Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform in the B2C space. But what we found was that 30 percent of our customers used our platform for B2B, and it's because the same type of best practices that our clients would employ for B2C are also very relevant to B2B. In fact they are probably even more suited for that.
A lot of these B2B companies are on legacy systems, and they are either deciding to stick with their current plan or looking at other options to take all of the disparate systems and put them into one. Well, those are really tough choices either way, and what makes Magento unique is its ability to allow these companies to get into the digital game in a way that works for their business. They can control the experience with their buyers to help improve their processes and to help drive more sales. The platform has features and capabilities suited for B2B, from being able to offer customer catalogs to negotiated pricing, as well as taking what we call "B2C utilization" and turning their B2B experience into a B2C one.
Additionally, wholesalers and manufacturers are looking to make their business unique. When you look at the choices out there, most kind of force the business into a box, but the client should have full control over what they want to do, when they want to do it and how they want it done.
PYMNTS: Beyond the benefits of the software itself, what does Magento's open-source ecosystem provide for clients?
CP: We have a global ecosystem, systems integrators and application developers, and they have built features and capabilities on top of the Magento enterprise platform, providing out-of-the-box features, as well as thousands of specific applications to solve tasks and functions B2B companies need to have.
I've mentioned a few, but you can imagine that each business has its own unique way of doing things. Enabling businesses to customize an experience any way they want is valuable.
PYMNTS: What’s next for Magento?
CP: We are excited by the future, certainly in the B2B space. We look at the opportunities available now and in the near future for us to continue to work with our clients and work with our partners to better meet the needs of branded manufacturers and wholesalers. We are looking to launch an updated platform at the end of the year and are planning to integrate additional B2B applications and custom features into our platform in 2016.