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Commerce & engagement

The 4 business issues that drive the need for B2B commerce investments


Seeking growth or efficiency in B2B is nothing new. However, a focus on customer experience – which has long been of strategic importance in B2C – has only recently become a priority for B2B as well. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how B2B companies are realizing growth, efficiency, and winning customer experiences through their investments in digital. 

1. Towards smarter and more efficient sales operations

As today's business landscape is becoming more global and digital, it’s also becoming more complex and challenging to navigate. There’s no longer a one-size-fits-all type of sales operation. Instead, companies are seeking the best-fitting ways of working with different types and sizes of customers. These ways of working embrace digital because over 70% of customers prefer online buying, a single digital touchpoint, and personalized services. 

One underlying challenge is where sales personnel should invest their time and efforts in terms of a customer's type, size, and strategic value. With B2B commerce solutions, companies can direct smaller customers toward self-service portals where they can still provide best-of-breed services. In this way, sales personnel can focus their time on larger customers and high-value activities and drive efficiency in sales operations. Companies can also provide more personalized, advanced, and collaborative services for larger customers, like order and data integrations, forecast-based production, and consignment stock. 

One clear advantage of B2B commerce solutions is that they enable the automation of repetitive tasks like re-ordering, inventory replenishment, and touchless orders. B2B commerce solutions can also bring efficiency to the work of sales personnel through guided selling and professional quoting tools. If a company succeeds in operating in a smarter way with B2B commerce solutions, the results are efficient sales operations, improved conversions, and better margins.

2. Control and transparency through data

As the value chains and operations of companies are becoming more complex and digitalized, the role of data becomes more important. The underlying challenge is how to convert that data into information, knowledge, and finally wisdom. Companies have started to make large investments to enhance their capabilities to make data-driven decisions – the first part of this journey is typically the capability to collect data about customers and transactions. Companies have also started to explore opportunities to create value through data for the surrounding value chain and even beyond. 

B2B commerce solutions play a crucial role in building such capabilities to create more control and transparency over operations and enable data to be converted into information and knowledge-supported decision-making. With commerce solutions, companies can create digital touchpoints that enable businesses to collect data throughout the customer journey and have a more transparent view of operations and customers. 

The capability to share data throughout company processes and make data transparent between different organization parts such as marketing, sales, and customer service is also key. One target that many organizations are pursuing is the so-called 360-degree view of customer data. Such capability enables organizations to operate more efficiently, making operations between marketing and sales departments more smooth and also creating a sense of control and transparency over operations. 

3. Strengthen or grow your position in the value chain through digital

We have previously written a post about the benefits B2B commerce can provide to the manufacturing value chain. B2B commerce can also help strengthen and grow your position in the value chain. One main element in B2B commerce solutions is that companies can share and receive data and information from their surrounding value chain, creating additional value for customers and stakeholders.

Connecting to end customers

Many manufacturers are looking to get their hands on end customer data to enhance and grow their business – and explore opportunities to do direct business with end customers. Digital solutions like B2B commerce are the key to making this happen. For example, a growing number of companies are looking for new business models that create direct marketing and sales channels toward end customers with the idea of supporting the distributor or retail network business they operate in. 

Getting access to end customers creates opportunities for companies to understand and serve end customers in enhanced ways as well as support the ability to grow business and strengthen their brand through this connection. Another example of such support is to provide accurate information about product availability and delivery so that the service network serving end customers can enhance their service time accuracy and improve the end customer experience. Availability and delivery time information are just a few simple data and information examples that can be shared and visualized through B2B commerce solutions.

Serving the value chain network

With B2B commerce solutions, companies can also share data and information to the value chain network – and data can also flow towards the company. Sharing valuable material or product data with partners within the value chain network helps to facilitate cooperation within the network. One example is being able to send forecasted demand for products or materials or setting up consignment stocks. 

These examples showcase the ability of B2B commerce solutions to help companies strengthen and grow their position in value and move downstream within the value chain.

4. Grow your share of wallet

All business leaders are wondering how to grow customer wallet share. B2B commerce solutions can greatly impact this challenge by improving customer experience through convenient services, improved cross- and upselling capabilities, improved information sharing, and the capability to collect and leverage customer data.

Easy interactions

Customers value easy and smooth interactions with a company – and this is where digital solutions and services can bring value. Consumer businesses have been known to lead the way in creating excellence in interactions and ways of acting with customers, and one can ask why the same excellence couldn't be achieved in B2B businesses as well? Although B2B business models tend to have more complex dimensions in their business models, when it comes to processes, pricing, products, services, and customer data complexity, a great customer experience can be achieved by a focus on ensuring easy interactions with the company. 

Through B2B commerce solutions, companies can establish completely new touchpoints with the customer and create a platform for easy interactions. An obvious benefit of digital solutions is that they are available at any time and with almost any type of device. Through such a solution, companies can provide a full view of the customer equipment fleet with predictive service statuses, easy ordering or re-ordering capabilities, and easy ways to search and learn information about products or services.  Companies can also offer an option to contact customer service through chat as this enables an easy and modern way of communication.

Valuable and time-saving services

Many B2B companies operate in highly data-intensive processes or with complex industrial products and services where stakeholders or customers in the value chain would benefit from data and data-driven services. For example, in heavy machinery, intelligent equipment, raw materials, or semi-finished products, customers would benefit from the capability to infuse their own processes with valuable information and data or oversee and predict any service or wearpart needs. 

This is where the benefits of B2B commerce solutions come into play. Companies can connect to customers to offer access to valuable information and data—and can connect those services to commercial ordering capabilities.

Presenting the full offering

B2B commerce solutions create excellent opportunities to inform and visualize a company’s full offering for their customers—and all this can be provided in a personalized or segment-optimized manner.

Smart commercial capabilities

Enterprises tend to struggle to oversee and unify the commercial guidelines and pricing in an ever-changing business environment – especially when thinking of the complexity of the value chains they operate in and the dimensions they need to consider in their commercial landscape. With B2B commerce solutions, companies can connect marketing, sales, and customer service into coherent, transparent, and unified data-driven operations that drive the development of customer experience and business growth with smart commercial capabilities. 

Complexity or the possibility to extensively configure products or services might require the capability for guided selling tools or so-called CPQ solutions (Configuration, Price, Quote). These benefit companies and build smarter commercial capabilities. Especially in price-driven industries, pricing might have complex dimensions like yearly discounts, agreements, service levels, and logistics costs that need to be taken into account. B2B commerce solutions can simplify and make things transparent, better controlled, and smarter. When adding campaign capabilities on top of complex products and pricing dimensions, the capabilities that B2B commerce solutions offer are vital. B2B commerce solutions also offer new ways to do cross-selling and upselling for products and services in a more efficient way. 

The business goals that drive investments in B2B commerce can be broken down into a multitude of subgoals or business objectives. For almost two decades, we’ve helped our customers to uncover and understand these objectives, prioritize them based on value and time to market, and ultimately realize them in a way that supports what they want to achieve. Let’s have a discussion on how we can help you.