Corporations are on individual paths to digitization, with each enterprise at a different stage than the next. For some companies, the struggle to get off paper and manual processes is a challenge. But the rise in B2B eProcurement and eCommerce is helping firms make that leap to going digital — and, according to CloudCraze, implementing digital commerce solutions can initiate broader advances in technological adoption overall.
According to Marilena Conforti, alliances director at CloudCraze, that was the idea behind the company’s new partnership with Deloitte Digital, which, she recently told PYMNTS, can help joint business customers go digital in their commerce processes and beyond.
“B2B can be that driver that leads” a broader digital transformation, she said. “B2B eCommerce is one component of a whole digital transformation strategy that companies are implementing today.”
But when the digitization process is focused on B2B eCommerce itself, it’s clear that even this one area of going digital and high-tech is on its own complex journey.
The tune of B2B eCommerce over the last few years has been filled with references of providing business buyers with a B2C-like, Amazon-like experience. That trend was reiterated by Conforti, who explained that today the “seismic shift” in B2B eCommerce means “buyers are going more digital.”
“We’re seeing consumerization out there,” the executive added. “People are wanting to purchase online, even within the B2B space.”
Eric Marotta, CloudCraze head of product marketing, told PYMNTS that there are other, more advanced, trends in B2B eCommerce today that are starting to dominate the conversation about enterprise digitization on a broader scale.
First, there’s the cloud.
“The cloud is appealing to organizations, because it allows them to focus on the customer, versus legacy platforms that require an IT and development focus,” Marotta explained. “Many B2B companies are seeing the benefits of shifting to the cloud sooner rather than later.”
The cloud is more agile than on-premise tools, even if they’re offered in an as-a-service business model, he continued. Plus, cloud technology can cut down on the cost and time it takes not only to implement these capabilities, but to see a return on investment.
“The agility of the cloud also empowers B2B businesses to embrace change by making platform iterations and adaptations fast and simple,” Marotta stated. “Such agility allows businesses to continually adjust to market conditions and consumer needs, which reduces internal costs, accelerates deployments and improves efficiency across the entire B2B business ecosystem.”
It’s not a stretch to see how the deployment of a cloud-based B2B eCommerce platform, through which companies can buy and sell, would be a critical stepping stone to adopting other cloud-based technologies across the enterprise. This pattern will likely emerge on multiple fronts as, according to Marotta, the B2B eCommerce space sees even more advanced technologies and innovations driving the industry.
“B2B enterprises are shifting toward as-a-service business models, which enables them to sell their services on a recurring pricing structure,” he said of some of the newest trends impacting B2B eCommerce. “These new models require a platform that supports the business’ need to adapt and create new business models.”
The as-a-service and subscription-based offering from suppliers mean both buyer and vendor must adapt their back-office functions — like accounting, payments and reconciliation — to ensure proper cash flow management. Marotta also said that corporate buyers are interested in self-service tools that allow them to make purchases whenever and wherever they need, without the need for one-on-one interaction with supplier sales representatives.
“We’re expecting to see an increase in embedded intelligence (AI and machine learning) within the commerce experience,” he continued. “In the next five years, we can expect to see buyers expect more than personalization. They’ll also expect businesses to anticipate their wants and needs. Technologies like AI, when integrated with commerce, allow businesses to learn from customer matters and automate regular orders — in addition to personalization.”
The trend sounds eerily familiar to those seen within B2C eCommerce too. The consumerization of B2B eCommerce mentioned by both Conforti and Marotta seems to have entered a new level of innovative technology — but, as Marotta warned, businesses must be weary of adopting the newest tools for the sake of being on the cutting edge.
“You can’t just implement technology for technology’s sake, or purchase a solution based on a list of features and functions,” he said. “It’s about actually being able to use technology and deploy it quickly.”