We really like the thought leadership from the folks at Think with Google. However, their October post “How Mobile is Reshaping the B2B Landscape for Growth” shows the type of editorial that is misleading most B2B companies when it comes to their eCommerce environments. Although none of their points are exactly wrong, it addresses only the smallest aspect of B2B commerce; the actual purchase transaction.
Posts like this one really only scratch the surface when it comes to B2B commerce. That can lead potential adopters of new digital strategies to focus on the least important aspect of their new system – where it aligns with B2C. Let’s unpack a few of these points and go a little deeper to understand how this type of thought process can be very dangerous.
- Mobile drives over 40% of revenue. Although this is true, it’s important to know that the only motivation of B2B eCommerce is not more revenue, it’s also to increase efficiencies. When considering a mobile app, it’s important that it handles the type of processes that are native to the handheld device. That includes things like biometric login capability, customizable alerts, bar-code scanning, GPS capabilities, speech to text and other aspects that apply to the many different roles included within the B2B buying cycle Only focusing on how it handles a purchase transaction can ignore the myriad of functionality that can be included in a highly configurable app.
- 50% of search queries are mobile. This is undoubtedly true, but what the authors don’t mention is that a huge majority of these searches are not Google searches. They’re customized searches of complex catalogs and inventories that are tailored for the specific procurement and contract agreements between companies. Site traffic, lead generation and transactions are only a part of the entire picture in B2B. Mobile search has to be efficient in order to be effective. Imagine a furnace technician searching through thousands of Google pages to find a specific part. Instead, they need a way to find that part instantly, order it with the terms of their existing contract, and get on their way.
- Mobile leaders need data. The author here pays no attention to the fact that B2B systems need to integrate with backend enterprise systems in order to be effective. Yes, third-party data is important but mainly from a consumer perspective. In B2B, the ability to pull real time inventory, contract pricing, catalog and even marketing data for the salesperson in the field, is the real key aspect.
Finally, although 4imprint is a great company they deal primarily with small businesses buying one product online. It’s a commodity sale that reflects more of a B2C sale. To really understand the impact of a true B2B mobile commerce environment, you need a robust example that displays the many-to-many aspects of these industries such as finance, manufacturing, or distribution.
Writing about B2B from an aspect that is mainly B2C is dangerous in that it misleads companies on the true needs of a fully connected, B2B commerce environment where both efficiency and revenue are often the true goal.