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Building the B2B Omni-channel Commerce Platform of the Future

B2B Buyer Expectations are Driving Sellers to Deliver Fully Functional Omni-Channel Experiences.

Overview

A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Accenture and hybris software finds that B2B Suppliers are adapting to shifting buying behavior of business customers that is driven by consumer shopping habits.

Business buyers expect a better ecommerce and omni-channel experience from suppliers with easy to use online payment methods, enhanced website search, and personalized recommendations.

Driven by their online buying experiences, savvy B2B buyers are demanding omni-channel capabilities when making work-related purchases. But for B2B sellers, in today’s rapidly-changing world, building an effective omni-channel experience for buyers is not easy. It requires both integrating world-class technology and transforming legacy organization structures and process – all at the same time.

For those B2B businesses that do it well, omni-channel can represent a powerful competitive advantage.

 

Download PDFView the Infographic [PDF, 249 KB]

Background

In August 2014, Accenture and hybris software commissioned a study by Forrester Consulting to explore how B2B buyer expectations are transforming how suppliers sell and deliver products and services. Forrester surveyed 526 B2B companies and 930 B2B buyers across Canada, France, Germany, the US and the UK at organizations with at least 1000 employees.

In follow-up to our early B2C study we teamed up with hybris and commissioned Forrester to conduct similar B2B study. We found that B2B buyers are already using their B2C experiences to drive their B2B expectations, and the B2B sellers were racing to deliver rich omni-channel experiences.

Key Findings

Forrester’s study yielded four key findings:

High customer expectations have led B2B firms to shift toward rich omni-channel experiences. B2B buyers’ expectations have shifted. Expectations for work-related purchases have been driven for several years by the simplicity and efficiency of online consumer sites that compete along the lines of price, various fulfillment capabilities and transparency of content and information, So, in essence, B2C customer experiences are driving B2B buyers to expect the same level of omni-channel service from their suppliers for work-related purchases.

Providing a comprehensive omni-channel experience ensures loyalty. B2B organizations recognize that customers expect omni-channel capabilities to be offered as standard. It is offering the combination of consistently low prices, excellent product service, and a broad product selection, combined with different delivery options regardless of the channel it is bought from. This ensures that B2B buyers come back for repeat orders.

Merchants will fall behind if they fail to adapt their technology to buyer needs. B2B sellers recognize that legacy systems and platforms are largely inadequate to support the omni-channel requirements of B2B buyers today. The majority of B2B sellers realize that technology investment decisions will be centered on their omni-channel strategy. In fact, the vast majority of organizations are either already implementing or upgrading their eCommerce platforms.

Technology investment must be aligned with organizational and process change. B2B sellers must align organizational and process change with digital technology spending. B2B companies must balance their investments in both people and technology in order to ensure that legacy approaches do not hinder effective enterprise-wide omni-channel adoption.

Download PDFDownload the full study for more data insight and recommendations. [PDF, 270Kb]

Key Recommendations

B2B companies would be well served to grow their investments in omni-channel capabilities by adopting buyer-centric technology, organization, and process change. The potential benefits are sweet and the cost of not doing so will be painful for those sellers that refuse to adapt. To succeed in the evolving B2B omni-channel commerce space, online B2B companies must:

Become intimate with the business buyer. B2B companies must respond to the demands of buyers for robust and sophisticated B2C-like shopping journeys.

Weave digital into all aspects of your operations to fulfill the promise of omni-channel. For B2B sellers, digital initiatives need to be embedded into all aspects of their organization.

Improve lead-to-revenue management capabilities. B2B sellers will have to learn from their more sophisticated B2C sales and marketing operations to help attract, serve, and retain business buyers.

Evaluate the partner ecosystem to support omni-channel commerce operations. B2B sellers must augment internal skills with external knowledge to help overcome technical, process, and organizational challenges.