commercetools, has published Establishing Your Baseline: Assessing B2B Digital Maturity. The report provides a model to support businesses to assess their digital maturity. It also examines the state of the over $7 trillion business-to-business (B2B) digital commerce market. The report, surveyed both B2B buyers and sellers globally. It found 60% of B2B businesses will need a new eCommerce platform within the next two years. Only one-third surveyed believed their current digital commerce tech stack can provide the modern digital experience B2B buyers base decisions on today.
“Ultimately, B2B buyers and sellers have the same demands and expectations as B2C buyers and sellers. Everyone needs the same level of flexibility and scalability to meet customers where they are. Moreover, where they want to be,” said Dirk Hoerig, Co-Founder and CEO of commercetools. “Composable commerce is the enabling factor for B2B businesses. No matter their size, segment, or level of maturity. True composability enables these experiences because of the unparalleled technical agility it grants.”
Seamless experiences matter
B2B buyers are flocking towards the most efficient experiences, which today often include digital components. Over 80% of B2B buyers prefer to order or pay through digital commerce specifically because of the ease and convenience that those touchpoints provide. These capabilities significantly influence decision-making throughout the buyer’s journey. They are demanding that negotiated prices, live customer chat, and the ability to check their order status in real-time all be available online.
While convenient checkout is key, advanced product discoverability is also critical to the increasingly digitally-native buyer.
- 69% of buyers found gathering information online on their own to be superior to interacting with a sales representative during the discovery process.
- 51% said they need to research their purchases online before they’re able to make a purchase offline.
This indicates the need for B2B companies to invest in creating consistency in their omnichannel experience by ensuring pricing and inventory are aligned online and offline. They also need to monetise services and domain expertise better. They want to ensure customers are not tempted to research with one organisation, and then buy someplace else that provides a better experience. Businesses must ensure they’re meeting customers where they are. Making sure any channel with product information must have the ability to convert buyer interest into a transaction.
B2B customers have grown accustomed to the immediacy that is now associated with modern shopping experiences. However, they’re not experiencing them in the B2B commerce economy. This technical immaturity is directly correlated to negative customer service experiences. This causes customer loyalty to decline and decrease the likelihood of converting customers.
Data is a strategic asset
63% of respondents said that data cleanliness was the biggest impediment to their B2B eCommerce growth this past year. Only to be outranked by budget constraints. Maturity in B2B eCommerce will only occur after businesses make a significant and ongoing investment into data cleanliness. The report suggests they need insights to propel themselves forward, stay ahead of the competition, and grow the bottom line. As a result, 77% of companies surveyed said that they’ll be investing in data cleanup this year.
Evolve or die
B2B organisations have become far more nimble, agile and responsive to B2B customers. However, they still lack the digital maturity to be successful in 2023 and beyond. While reactive strides were made in 2020, they’re largely still under-investing in certain roles. 62% of B2B sellers said that the lack of qualified eCommerce team members was a significant barrier to their growth. The same goes for leadership, who are predominately still not sufficiently digitally native.
According to Kelly Goetsch, Chief Strategy Officer at commercetools, “I believe that digital success comes from the top down. You cannot simply transform a single piece of your business to be digital. You have to transform every piece, including your leadership.”
“If you want to be a successful digital organisation, everyone at your company needs to be a “tech person.” Everyone needs to be up for the digital transformation challenge.”
With a top-down emphasis on digital transformation, B2B organizations must also look to evolve their metrics for success. The report found that many companies are too fixated on the hard metrics for B2B eCommerce. They are not putting enough emphasis on capturing the business-critical soft metrics, such as customer satisfaction and retention.
Size and digital maturity separate B2B companies from one another — distributors from wholesalers, manufacturers from manufacturers, and distributors from manufacturers. The most digitally mature companies are driven by the priorities of their customers, not by internal needs. Furthermore, they are constantly looking for ways to take advantage of new technologies and ecosystems to further evolve their businesses.
Enterprise Times: What this means for businesses
Over the past few years, there have been fundamental shocks in the global business economy that accelerated digital transformation. Commercetools’s research shows B2B enterprises who understand their digital maturity and the economic cost of not delivering are taking action. Only one-third surveyed believed their current digital commerce tech stack can provide the digital experience B2B buyers base their decision-making.
The digital maturity assessment established in the report can help B2B companies determine where they are in the transformation journey. Furthermore, companies can develop a roadmap for accelerating their digital maturity as quickly and effectively as possible. The report provides guidance to businesses on how to advance to achieve success in B2B eCommerce. Increasingly businesses are identifying the gaps and inflexibility in their omnichannel experience. Hence the attractiveness of composable commerce which is on the rise in the B2B economy.