Investigating and selecting an ecommerce solution for your B2B organization is a big project. All too often B2B organizations look to their enterprise resource planning (ERP) providers for guidance on ecommerce with the intent to keep as much of their business. This approach results in a rudimentary ecommerce site that lacks the visual and functional finesse that today’s B2B consumer expects.
- Ecommerce is not your ERP partner’s core compentency. Let me lay it on the line for you: ERP providers are good at providing ERP software. And while your enterprise ecommerce site should integrate with your ERP system, that doesn’t mean those two software sets must come from the same provider. (In fact, I don’t believe they should.) The reality is that ERP vendors look to offering an ecommerce product as a way to expand their product line and capture more of your budget. Simply offering ecommerce functionality doesn’t mean that the ERP vendor’s ecommerce software will meet the demanding requirements of today’s B2B organization. You wouldn’t go to a toothbrush manufacturer to get your teeth cleaned would you? No–you’d go to a dentist. Then why buy your ecommerce software from your ERP provider?
- Lack of robust ecommerce functionality. Because ecommerce is not one of your ERP vendor’s core competencies, the sites they offer are likely to be pretty limited in true B2B ecommerce functionality. Yes, an ERP-provided ecommerce system will allow your customers to buy products from you, but today’s ecommerce experience is so much more than simply buying stuff online. Today’s B2B online consumers expect a robust online shopping experience whether they are buying for personal or business use. They expect to find innovative and interactive content on your site as well as the ability to conduct comprehensive site searches, side-by-side product comparisons, and create product user reviews. It is unlikely that your ERP ecommerce module will accommodate these types of functionality.
- One size fits all approach to ecommerce site design. For most ERP-provided ecommerce sites, what you see is what you get design wise. If you don’t mind that your site looks nearly identical to every other company using the same ERP ecommerce module, by all means, proceed. I’d be willing to bet that you don’t want your site to look like everyone else’s though. ERP ecommerce modules develop one or two basic site designs and then role it out to every client they bring on board. The result is a series of sites that all look shockingly similar even though the logo, products and content are completely different.
- Limited promotional capabilities. Most original B2B ecommerce portals sprouted up to provide a new way for B2B customers to buy the products and services they need. The original intent was never to create a promotional tool for a B2B organization to use in promoting its products. However, the market changed and today’s savvy consumer that wants to buy online AND wants to be educated about other products and services during the buying process. Most ERP ecommerce modules are extremely limited in their on-site promotional capabilities and cross-selling and up-selling are extremely limited and/or manually populated.
At first glance, you ERP provider’s ecommerce module might seem like a good solution for your B2B ecommerce site, but if you look closer, chances are good that you’ll discover that critical ecommerce functionality is missing. Do your research and know that there are robust ecommerce platforms out there that integrate with your ERP system just as well as their bolt-on module. You’ll be glad that you did.
To learn more about how to leverage the power of B2B ecommerce for your business, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.