Key to realizing the rewards of digital business is being able to break the bonds of doing business “the way it’s always been done.” Ecommerce 3.0 is doing just that.
An objective appraisal of B2B sectors highlights that most companies with ecommerce have limited themselves to merely applying technology to help do business “the way it’s always been done.” Sure, sales and efficiency gains are generated but always in comparison to old sales models, not compared to what it could be.
B2B buyers are also consumers. Numerous B2C digital innovators, free of legacy baggage, are bringing to market new buying scenarios that are instantly accepted, quickly valued and rapidly integrated into customers’ routines. These companies continue to reinvent digital retail and reap the rewards.
Since the late 1990s, B2B ecommerce technology has evolved to provide mid-sized sellers an on ramp to digital revenue. While these platforms opened the door to a new sales channel, they also limited potential value.
Ecommerce 1.0 was characterized by rudimentary tools that allowed for simply selling products and services electronically. Functionality was generally limited to online product inventories, services, credit card processing and predefined reports.
Ecommerce 2.0 introduced application-native features and functionality, such as customer accounts, improved product search and filtering, product and service add-ons, multiple payment types and improved reporting. These 2.0 tools were part of both server-based applications (Magento, WooCommerce, etc.) and hosted cloud-based apps (Shopify, Sana Commerce Cloud, etc.).
While these first two generations blazed a trail for B2B ecommerce, their basic structure force companies into rigid templates and predefined purchasing flows. With programmer-built processes that aligned with legacy B2B norms, these early platforms enable digitalization but not innovation.
Ecommerce 3.0 Difference
Ecommerce 3.0 is a new approach to B2B revenue generation making use of a wide array of new and affordable technology tools. It not only benefits buyers with a new, welcomed buying experiences, but also sellers are no longer held hostage to rigid processes and functionality. Direct positive results include improvement in revenue, margins and cost of customer operations.
What is Ecommerce 3.0?
There are three key elements to Ecommerce 3.0:
- New Buying Experiences
Ecommerce 3.0, with flexibility, speed, and integration in its DNA, unleashes mid-sized B2B sellers to deliver innovative and asked-for customer buying experiences. Its architecture separates the customer interface from back-end systems, providing a clean canvas to create new buying functionality. The historical cost and delays of large software projects and vertical-system integration are eliminated. Deployment is iterative, delivering quick wins for buyers and sellers as well as continuous improvements driven by data analytics.
- Single Digital Address for Business
Ecommerce 3.0 replaces the traditional website that has effectively worked as an electronic brochure, with a customer-facing business application designed from the ground up as a destination to easily do business. It has single sign-on (SSO) so customers log in once for all the available products and services amplified by personalized content. 3.0 also ushers in a granular level of customer visibility, supplying vital behavior and buying data for predictive analytics, that ecommerce plugins and portals cannot achieve.
- Unified Commerce
Ecommerce 3.0 enhances omnichannel revenue through unified systems. Customers have the same experience regardless of their touchpoint, while sellers always have a current view of their buyers. This is driven by real-time integration of the customer-facing application, CRM, ERP,and other support systems. Establishing a system that is the single source of truth (SSOT) for core data sets ensures current, authoritative information is always synchronized and available to buyers and sellers.
Technology Ahead of Strategy.
Large B2C enterprises with correspondingly large budgets are already down a path similar to Ecommerce 3.0, and their success is well documented.
However, Ecommerce 3.0 technology has rapidly dropped in cost and complexity, making it affordable and scalable for mid-sized B2B product and service companies. Its greatest value lies in unleashing a new way of thinking about customer strategy and how to do business.
B2B companies now have the freedom to create what’s possible with their digital business.
Ecommerce 3.0 Take Away
Within reach for most B2B companies is performance improvement well beyond traditional financial fiddling or doing the same things faster or leaner. At an all-in cost that is less than previous software systems, Ecommerce 3.0 is a powerful platform for innovation and differentiation to create devoted customers, revenue growth, margin expansion, a lower cost-to-serve—and lasting value.
Also see: BigCommerce B2B
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