E-commerce technology improves every day, and for many businesses that’s good news. The downside is that many can’t keep up with the costs or the rising expectations of their buyers.
A new report shows that most companies in a 2016 survey—54%—say that the cost of technology is the biggest obstacle to meeting their customers’ e-commerce needs. But there’s a shortfall in another key area: commitment to technology. 44% of respondents to the survey behind the report say their organization’s unwillingness to innovate with new approaches to e-commerce is the second-largest hurdle.
The findings are in a report from CloudCraze Software LLC, which is based on responses from 197 companies representing distribution, manufacturing, software, healthcare and government organizations. 26% of the respondents are with companies based in the United Kingdom, the rest in the United States. The respondents did not include clients of CloudCraze, a spokeswoman says.
CloudCraze, a vendor of internet-hosted e-commerce software designed to run on the Salesforce.com technology platform, conducted the survey in September and details its findings in a report titled The B2B Digital Commerce Imperative.
The report’s authors maintain that businesses that sell online to other businesses generally are not keeping up with new e-commerce technology and therefore are not meeting their customers’ complex needs. 37% of respondents said their current digital commerce software has been in place for three years or more, 28% for two to three years and only 14% have implemented their e-commerce systems in the past year.
B2B companies selling online today say their biggest challenges include containing costs (37%) and the inability to provide an omnichannel customer experience (35%) that lets customers shop with consistent information and service across multiple channels, including on websites and mobile devices and with sales reps. Other shortcomings include gaining a holistic view of the customer (31%), effectively using e-commerce data (30%) and employee I.T. knowledge for platform management (28%).
Respondents say their customers’ problems with buying online vary, and are led by limited online payment options (37%) followed by a lack of automated order replenishment capabilities (30%).
Survey respondents want to get out in front of customer e-commerce needs by offering an outstanding buyer experience, which is the highest-ranking priority among survey respondents (38% say it’s their top priority). One in four report that updating antiquated technology is a priority for their business and about a quarter (27%) plan to spend more than $2 million in the next fiscal year on e-commerce systems.
The report’s authors recommend combining e-commerce and customer relationship management technology to tap the most relevant data and place the customer at the center of the e-commerce experience. The technologies “enable businesses to understand and accommodate the needs of buyers through a holistic view of their CRM data. What’s more, today’s cloud platforms offer flexibility, cost savings and quick speed to market.”
Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a twice-weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes the monthly business magazine Internet Retailer. Follow Bill Briggs on Twitter @BBriggsB2B.
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