2013: The Year For B2B E-Commerce. 6 Things Manufacturers and Distributors Need To Know

    By Ryan Ruud | Small Business

    It’s an Amazonian world we live in, especially when it comes to e-commerce trends. But it may come as a surprise to many, that the opportunity in e-commerce lies in the B2B column, not the B2C column. Late in 2012 Forrester released their report for B2B e-commerce and showed an opportunity for B2B companies at a whopping $559 Billion, nearly two times that of B2C e-commerce. A bulk of the B2B opportunity lies in the manufacturing and distributor universe. If you’re pondering a B2B e-commerce initiative in 2013 or already have e-commerce in your operation but maybe considering a revisit to your operation, here’s six things you need to know to capitalize on 2013: the year of B2B e-commerce.

    1.) Don’t Just Look At Your ERP System For A Manufacturing/Distribution E-Commerce Solution

    I get it. Your ERP or CRM or other back office system may be an attractive place to start looking for an e-commerce solution. They offer an elegant connection to your existing systems and seem like a quick answer. The problems is, those systems are designed to be your ERP or your CRM and when it comes to e-commerce, you need an e-commerce solution that’s designed to be e-commerce. Why? We’ll cover that in point number 2. What you really need, is an e-commerce solution that provides ample integration possibilities. Good e-commerce should integrate with existing systems, not emanate from them.

    2.) Focus On Your Customer

    B2B e-commerce shoppers are also B2C e-commerce shoppers. Because we’ve learned how to shop online in an e-commerce environment, we have a set of expectations around how e-commerce should behave. This is why it’s important to consider an e-commerce focused provider over just an ERP add-on when tackling an e-commerce project for your manufacturing or distribution business. In addition, this focus on the customer and their behavior reduces cart abandonment. Creating insanely great shopping experiences matter regardless if the customer is consumer or business and an absolute must if you wish to win in 2013: the year of B2B e-commerce.

    3.) Set it and Forget? Yeah right.

    This continues on point 3. Once you’ve chosen a solution that gives you flexibility to create great buying experiences for your customers, make sure you’re not treating your site like a Ronco food dehydrator, in other words don’t set it and forget it. Like any other part of your e-business strategy, give it lots of attention and keep tweaking it to make sure it’s always performing at it’s best. You’ll want to spend time looking at the data and making adjustments as you.

    4.) Your Competition Is Already Online.

    Not to be alarmist, but it’s true. Some of your competitors are probably already offering e-commerce to their channel and customers. However, you’ve a little wiggle room. A report by Oracle shows that only about 25% of B2B companies have an online presence. The remaining 75% have $559 Billion to split in 2013, how big will your share be?

    5.) Get Ahead When You Can

    This means, you have an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by being an early mover in the B2B e-commerce realm.

    6.) Learn, Connect and Share.

    Finally, an invitation to connect with others considering e-commerce on LinkedIn. Like anything in e-business there is a lot to learn. Good luck in 2013 as you claim your share of the rather large B2B pie!

    As an added bonus! Here’s this post as a quick little Slide Share.

    6 Things Every Manufacturer Needs To Know About E-Commerce In 2013 from Four51, Inc.

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