It’s no secret that COVID disrupted the world of B2B ecommerce. Market trends and evolving customer expectations have pushed B2B vendors to transform faster than ever before.
In the realm of B2B ecommerce technology, we’re seeing several shifts in the market. Here are the top three trends that are defining new B2B ecommerce implementations.
1.—“Bolt-on” ERP integration isn’t working for manufacturers
Third-party-dependent integrations have never been great for organizations whose business lives in the ERP. If the company doesn’t have enough IT resources to dedicate to integration, data problems can arise—and ultimately, those become customer experience problems.
This trend is only intensifying as market pressures push companies to launch B2B ecommerce faster—and with all the integrations that customers need to complete transactions.
Conventional thinking said that a standalone platform was adequate for all organizations and all B2B use cases. If you needed ERP integration, you could choose from a wide range of third-party “connectors” to keep your ERP and your B2B ecommerce store in sync.
ERP-dependent organizations are finding this architecture unmanageable. It creates three duplicate systems (ERP, B2B ecommerce, and an integration solution), each with its own copy of all ERP data and logic. If business rules change in the ERP, you have to change them accordingly in the other two systems or synchronization will create errors.
Having three systems means you’ll need three separate teams. Whether you outsource that requirement or staff it in-house, it’s not cheap—and the chance of coordination problems is high. This is why we see an increasing demand for B2B ecommerce solutions that include real-time ERP integration.
2.—Integration-first platforms are empowering B2Bs to launch ecommerce fast
In the latest Wave Report for B2B Commerce, Forrester called out how integration-first platforms are disrupting the market.
“As monolithic technology becomes outdated and less effective, the providers that lead the pack demonstrate deep, prebuilt integrations and strong business user tooling.”
Given the pressures of the post-COVID world, it makes sense that the market would turn to alternative architectures for B2B ecommerce and ERP integration. And with customer-centric focus groups influencing the final shape of B2B ecommerce solutions, organizations are finding that they need ERP integration from the very start of the project. Without it, they can’t get realistic feedback from customers.
3.—Cloud is the way forward in B2B ecommerce
In the SAP market, we’re seeing an uptick in customers moving off of ECC 6.0 and onto S/4HANA. As economies continue to settle after COVID disruption, it appears that enterprises are at last beginning to migrate their ERPs to the cloud.
We’re seeing the same preference for cloud when it comes to B2B ecommerce. With rapid digital transformation now the norm, agile organizations can’t justify the intensive investment that’s required with on-premises or self-hosted solutions. And with today’s commoditized B2B ecommerce technology, it is generally easier to meet your needs with a SaaS solution than with a more traditional hosting model.
The old model for B2B ecommerce required vendors to arrange their own hosting, whether with hardware owned and maintained in-house, or through a hosting provider. While this model gave companies greater control over their solutions, it also put more responsibility on their shoulders.
With today’s fast-paced world of digital evolution, many organizations are finding they can’t pivot quickly enough with on-premise solutions. It’s a heavy lift for IT departments that are already scrambling in the wake of COVID disruption.
Whether it’s SaaS (software as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service), one thing is clear. Manufacturers and distributors need agile, scalable solutions for B2B ecommerce. That’s why they’re leveraging the economies of scale that only a cloud-hosted model can provide.
George Anderson is a marketing manager at Corevist Inc., which provides manufacturers with software to launch B2B ecommerce portals integrated with SAP ERP software. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn. A portion of this article first appeared on the Corevist blog. A portion of this article first appeared on the Corevist blog.