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Note: This blog references The Forrester Wave: B2B Commerce Suites Wave, Q3, 2018. Forrester’s report evaluated the 12 most significant B2B commerce suite providers against three areas: current offering, strategy and market presence. Insite was named a leader in B2B Commerce. Forrester notes, “Insite customers citied the ‘laser-focus’ on the capabilities they care about, and how things they needed for their business worked almost right out of the box.” Get your own copy of the Forrester Wave here before reading.

On Tuesday October 30, 2018 Insite sponsored a webinar entitled, B2B Commerce Suites Finally Come Of Age.

Insite’s VP of Marketing and Customer Experience, Karie Daudt was joined by guest speaker, John Bruno, Senior Forrester Analyst as he unpacked the findings from The Forrester Wave: B2B Commerce Suites, Q3 2018, discussed the differences between B2B Commerce Suites and B2C Commerce Suites, and illustrated how B2B businesses can leverage new capabilities to springboard their digital practices.

If you didn’t have a chance to attend the webinar you can still register to view the webinar on demand. Additionally, in what follows, we’ve highlighted some of the key takeaways from the webinar for quick reference.

1. B2B eCommerce Suites Should Be Evaluated Separate from B2C

B2B eCommerce sales are growing faster than ever. Forrester forecasts that online revenue from B2B eCommerce Sales in the U.S. will reach $1.2 trillion dollars by 2020.

Sales Increasing

Additionally, B2B buyers are looking for and expecting more digital ordering tools. B2B buyers have an appetite for more self-service and digital engagement. In fact, roughly 2/3 of buyers say they prefer to not interact with a sales representative when conducting research.

Buyer Appetite

It is clear that B2B businesses are investing in B2B eCommerce suites in response to these changing B2B buyers’ expectations. They are under pressure to empower the experiences B2B buyers have come to expect.

eCommerce Investment

This also means that the market of software vendors that exist for B2B businesses to invest in is growing and saturated. Because B2B eCommerce is so transformational, businesses need to make smart technology decisions. Many vendors are entering the B2B space, promising to accommodate the needs of B2B, so it can be difficult to understand what is most necessary in your eCommerce platform. That’s where analyst reports like The Forrester Wave: B2B Commerce Suites Q3, 2018 can help guide manufacturers’ and distributors’ decisions.

2. B2B eCommerce Suites Need to Manage Complexities

One of the most notable differences between B2B and B2C is that B2B is far more complex. You have to account for the complexities between people, products and channels.

Bruno stated, “The hierarchy of relationships, accounts and users within those accounts is paramount. You need to understand yourself, your business and the accounts you do business with.” And it doesn’t end there. In B2B it isn’t just about the account, it’s also about the many B2B buyers and the complexities between different roles. B2B is not one-to-one, or even one-to- many, it is many-to-many.

Complex Relationships

Additionally B2B commerce platforms need to support complex channel strategies. From self-service to full-service, the B2B selling spectrum is a hybrid one. Traditional channels need to be digitally enabled. Every person, whether internal or external, needs to be able to do their jobs easier. How are you powering your experiences for your sales people? For your Customer Service Representatives? What about the transaction that might occur at a branch? What do all these experiences look like and how can you enable them?

Channel Strategies

3. The B2B Commerce Market is Cluttered

As stated, the market for B2B Commerce is growing. As a result, there’s a new market opportunity for commerce vendors who originally launched their business in the B2C commerce space.

Bruno stated, “Some of them [B2C Vendors] have gracefully moved into the B2B market by building out new capabilities and functionalities, but on average, many B2C vendors have awkwardly positioned themselves to play in the B2B market.”

It’s important to do your research and confirm that the vendor you are considering is operating at a B2B level effectively. This means seeing past the messaging, marketing, and flashy frontend to ensure that the product they are offering can truly handle the complexities your business is facing every day.

Using tools like The Forrester Wave: B2B Commerce Suites Q3, 2018 or Insite’s B2B eCommerce Assessment can help set you on the right path.