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Commerce & engagement

How to make sure your move into B2B digital commerce is a success


The transition to digital sales and digital collaboration has been a gradual process in B2B-focused industries. For instance, in manufacturing, there was a time when companies couldn’t imagine selling their products online.


We’ve witnessed this first hand – over fifteen years ago, the CEO of a multinational manufacturing company threw our team out of the management board meeting while stating that “our products will never be sold on the internet”.


Less than two years later, that company, together with us, launched their first web shop.


The way businesses and value chains are now transforming is by and large digitally driven. B2B companies need to embrace this if they want to remain competitive or even continue to exist. When Covid-19 hit, it only accelerated this shift in B2B toward going digital. For example, many global manufacturers faced disruptions in their traditional sales channels and those who had already invested in ecommerce were better positioned to adapt. Those who weren’t, but didn’t want to get steamrolled by the competition, rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

B2B digital commerce is not simple

There are a number of factors that contribute to success. Each of the following topics will be examined more closely in upcoming posts:

B2B is not B2C

First of all, the B2B buying process is a lot more complex than what it is in B2C and there’s usually more than one buyer – meaning an individual to inform, influence, and negotiate with. Transaction volume and value are usually on a completely different level in B2B and products are much, much more complex and, in many cases, highly configurable. Pricing is typically segment or even customer-specific.

Understanding value chain dynamics

Going digital in B2B has a significant impact on value chain dynamics. It introduces efficiencies, transforms business models, and can disrupt and transform traditional value chain structures. With those changes comes the challenge of channel conflict – offline vs. online and own channels vs. partners/wholesalers/resellers.

Going digital can also profoundly enhance supply chain visibility and streamline processes, as well as allow value-chain stakeholders to collaborate and co-create.

Business is in the driver’s seat

B2B commerce initiatives should never be detached from what your business is trying to achieve. Measurable business goals should drive the planning, building, running, and improving of a commerce solution. It all starts and ends with the business.

Customer experience and B2B

Whereas B2B is not nor ever will be B2C, we’ve witnessed the rise of superior customer experience taking the front seat position in companies’ strategies. A lot of the sales KPIs that have been in use in B2C commerce for years and years have also found their way into a B2B context.

Companies realize that providing the best customer experience is one of the key competitive factors in today's business. That customer experience shares many of the same principles that apply in B2C as well – companies are ultimately dealing with human beings who value being seen, understood, and known for what they need. Things like personalization and targeted content are things that the B2B commerce front runners are currently investing heavily in.

Leveraging data

Companies serving their customers or other stakeholders in their digital touchpoints gather massive amounts of valuable data that translates directly to business benefits. Companies can, for example, optimize the customer experience by leveraging their growing understanding of the customer which, in turn, enables them to provide personalized experiences and targeted information.

Data is generated throughout the value chain and companies that leverage this can make informed business decisions regarding pricing, inventory management, and supply chain optimization.

Processes are everything

Companies must treat their business processes and the underlying backend systems as an integral part of their B2B commerce initiatives. How the business operates dictates how to design and develop, for example, a digital sales channel.

But the opposite is also true – how a company aims to do business in the digital should also bring up the question of how processes are supporting this or whether they should be changed. A well-thought-out, modern, and flexible integration between the digital commerce layer and the backend is key when building successful B2B commerce solutions.

Compliance, trust, and security

Building trust and ensuring security and compliance is critical in B2B commerce. B2B transactions are subject to a multitude of industry-specific regulations and compliance standards. On top of this, there’s GDPR to consider in B2B as well. Authentication and authorization protocols are necessary to ensure secure transactions.

Transparency and clear communication throughout the buying process are crucial in building trust between businesses.

Empower Your B2B Commerce Journey with Vincit

There are a multitude of characteristics that need to be considered when building digital commerce capabilities in B2B. The difference between success and failure lies in understanding these characteristics and taking them into account in any and every digital commerce initiative. 

Vincit has almost two decades and over 100 projects of experience in helping B2B companies design, build, and continuously improve their digital commerce capabilities. Over three billion euros in annual revenue is generated through B2B commerce solutions built and supported by Vincit.

Contact us to discuss how we can make your digital commerce transformation successful.