How key eCommerce infrastructure can help your B2B enterprise
Is 2023 the year your organisation plans to get serious about transacting digitally with its business customer base?
Chances are, a growing number of your competitors have already done so and will be cracking ahead with their plans now the holiday season is over, and business as usual has recommenced in earnest.
ICT market watchers predict B2B eCommerce will be the mega-trend of the 2020s, with the market likely to be worth an eye-watering $3 trillion in the US alone within four years.
A glance at some survey results published by McKinsey in late 2020 reveals why they’re likely to be on the money. More than three-quarters of B2B buyers stated they’d prefer to interact with sales reps virtually rather than physically, and to place their orders online, rather than in person. Only 20 per cent of customers were looking forward to the resumption of in-person sales calls, post-Covid lockdowns.
Responding to the eCommerce explosion
That extraordinary pivot to online procurement is forcing B2B businesses to respond, implementing platforms and processes that enable them to engage and transact with customers and prospects digitally, and to deliver consumer-grade service and customer experience at scale.
There’s plenty of work to be done, and B2B enterprises that hope to remain competitive need to get on with the job, according to Gartner.
‘Sales leaders must deliver significant value through digital and omnichannel sales models, aided by sales professionals who can steer self-learning customers towards more confident decisions,’ Gartner’s Future of Sales 2025: Deliver the Digital Options B2B Buyers Demand report notes.
‘B2B sales channels need to match the seamless, easy and informative standard of B2C digital platforms.’
Investing in eCommerce infrastructure
A secure payment portal is one of the key capabilities B2B businesses need to deploy if they’re to catch up with their consumer-focused counterparts.
It’s the means by which an organisation can provide customers with round-the-clock capacity to self-serve: managing their account details; viewing their usage of services; and making payments whenever and wherever they choose. Empowering buyers in this way typically results in two things: reduced collection costs and improved customer retention – a compelling duo of benefits that can help ensure the long-term success of your foray into digital commerce.
You’ll also need to put one or more commercial payment gateways in place. Ideally, they’ll integrate directly with your billing and revenue management system, making it easier to monitor and manage the full lifecycle of the payment process.
Hosted payment pages from a trusted provider are another must-have, particularly in the current climate of heightened cyber risk. They provide the level of security that today’s hyper-alert customers now expect and demand. Make them part of your eCommerce model, and you’ll lessen the risk of a data breach damaging your corporate reputation and derailing your online sales push.
Better billing for your B2B customers
In addition to investing in this essential eCommerce infrastructure, you may find it valuable to analyse and optimise your billing processes to ensure the customer accounts you’re generating are timely, accurate and transparent.
Frequent, or even occasional, billing errors can dent your credibility and make business buyers chary about dealing with your organisation.
It’s easier to ensure that invoices are correct and out on time, every time, if your enterprise is running on a cloud-based revenue management software platform that covers the revenue cycle from end to end. Ideally, you’ll select one that can link seamlessly with your ERP solution, whether that be SAP or Microsoft Dynamics.
It’s foundation eCommerce technology that enables you to capture and consolidate sales data and integrate it with the CRM systems that track and manage your customers. It should also be possible to extract actionable insights that can inform decisions around products, pricing and marketing, provided you select a platform with sophisticated data analysis capabilities.
Preparing for a stronger future
It’s becoming crystal clear that the future of B2B sales is digital, and businesses that don’t get with the program risk losing mind and market share to more agile, forward-thinking competitors. If you’re serious about becoming a player in the B2B eCommerce space in 2023 and beyond, investing in payment and revenue management systems and processes that allow you to operate at scale is likely to prove an intelligent move.