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Insights from B2B Online: Evolving B2B Ecommerce

Avoid the BS in B2B Ecommerce

The Znode team recently attended the highly anticipated B2B Online conference in Chicago, which brought together industry leaders and experts for three days of insightful presentations, engaging discussions, and networking opportunities. Following are key takeaways and insights on the current state of B2B ecommerce.

Is Composable Commerce the Comet Crash That Kills the Dinosaurs?

It appears that a major shift in ecommerce platforms is occurring. The majority of conversations at the conference were about legacy or monolithic platforms that are sunsetting, investing less in product roadmaps, or forcing upgrades that are essentially implementing a new platform. 

Composable commerce is the new shiny object. However, recent data suggests that 40-50% of “MACH” (composable) implementations are failing. While a shopping cart surrounded by micro-services provides unlimited flexibility, it may cost a lot more and take longer to implement. 

Maybe the modern era requires a hybrid approach of native B2B functionality and API-first architecture. Features and extensibility. There’s an idea with legs.

Manufacturers Need More Than B2B. Manufacturers Need B2B2X.

Disintermediation is still a hot topic in manufacturing. Nobody wants to break from the traditional distributor relationship, nor are most manufacturers capable of replacing the distributor sales force or holding mass inventory across multiple regions. 

This doesn’t mean that the status quo is the future. Manufacturers still grapple with not owning a relationship with the end customer and, more importantly, not owning the data. Equally frustrating are smaller distributors that have an impact on sales but are not big enough to invest in a true ecommerce practice or digital transformation when clearly sales are moving online. 

Manufacturers should consider B2B2X business models that allow the manufacturer to stand up stores on behalf of channels while keeping the data. Another opportunity is portals that allow all stakeholders in the buying process to get the information they need. This includes sales, distributors, and the end customer. 

The Death of a Salesman or Just Another B in the Equation?

Salespeople are more important than ever, and they are more powerful when armed with ecommerce data and tools for managing quotes, placing orders on behalf of customers, and making recommendations as a consultant. Maybe it should be called B2S2B2X. (Say that three times fast.) Maybe this is the birth of a new generation of digitally enabled, highly efficient sales teams. 

There is Still A Lot of BS in B2B.

Walk the show floor and many ecommerce platforms that were the stars of retail and the fashion industry five years ago are now claiming to be B2B ecommerce platforms. Really? Sounds like a lot of BS. Saying a platform is now ready for B2B doesn’t magically mean it is tailored to the complex needs of manufacturers and distributors. This doesn’t mean magic isn’t cool. 

Most People are Good.

Luke Bryan said it best in his hit song. Clearly, the group of people at B2B Online and the entire B2B ecommerce industry are good people. B2B ecommerce is still in its infancy in many respects, and this group is committed to research and understanding how to solve the many challenges ahead. The team at Znode is committed to helping educate and inform on these topics. 

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