Contributor: Ozan Yavasoglulari, Managing Consultant – eCommerce & Portals.
Quite a bit has been written around the challenges companies face in transitioning their B2B sales online, ranging from Marketplace digital strategies, eCommerce portals, to Punchout solutions. And while these challenges vary from one industry to another, most are actually common enough to warrant a Top Five list. In the following weeks (or months, depending on how much I can stretch this!) I’ll run down the list of top five, discussing some of the ways we’ve overcome these challenges while working with our customers.
(Spoiler alert, complex purchasing journeys didn’t make our top 5! But more on this a bit later…)
#5 B2B BUYER-SPECIFIC AND RELEVANT CONTENT
On the face of it, you’d be right to say that this is not actually a B2B specific challenge – any B2C or ‘Direct-to-Consumer’ (D2C) eCommerce purchasing journey also requires relevant and specific content (and to be fair, we never said it wouldn’t). However, the challenge for B2B is quite different from B2C or D2C. Since your buyer is the business, the ‘specific and relevant’ content is not about marketing to the individual based on their preferences, likes, social media activity or browsing. It’s about providing specific and relevant content that will assist in the decision to buy based on the many layers of business processes and buying strategy. And this can also be more about what you don’t show as much as it is about what you do show; for example, displaying buyer-specific catalogue or product ranges, so the buyer only sees the categories and/or products that apply to them. This feature not only overcomes the challenge of providing visibility of specific product, but also specific categories in which these products are associated i.e. specific navigation and sub-navigation menus. (Actually, this specific requirement is so common that it’s part of the feature landscape for our B2B ecommerce solution implementations!)
Another example is extended technical product information. For almost all B2B buyers (none more so than in the case of manufacturing), this is vital for any buying decision. And more importantly, not only what is displayed but also how it’s displayed. Take for example a complex challenge, like a product that requires ‘spare part material numbers’, CAD designs, and 360-degrees product views. Overcoming such a challenge requires a specialized solution – you would be hard pressed to find a B2B eCommerce solution (cloud or on-prem) that will support such a feature natively. One approach is to look at Service Oriented Architecture solutions (although it’s not a bad idea to try and base your entire B2B digital strategy on integrated systems). This offers an advantage on cost as well as ease of management. For example, a Digital Asset Management System with basic PIM capabilities that integrates natively with an eCommerce system. You can leverage only the aspects that you need and when purchased as ‘add-ons’ to your Commerce product it offers a financial benefit too. One such solution is Oracle CX Content, which natively integrates with Oracle CX Commerce.
In summary, in any B2B online transition, clearly defining your ‘buyer-specific and relevant content’ challenges and requirements should be #5 on your teams list.
Keep an eye out for my next post where I’ll tackle number 4 on the list of top 5 common challenges in your B2B online sales transition.
Continue the conversation & participate in discussion by visiting Oz’s original blog post on LinkedIn here.