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Latest Issue: Sept/Oct 17

B2B e-commerce makes way for a new generation

Rob Williams, CEO of leading SaaS eCommerce provider Cloudfy is causing a stir in the B2B world. He believes business to business (B2B) eCommerce companies that have been in the shadow of business to consumer (B2C) eCommerce are now ready to shine. The reason is simple – the Millennial generation has come of age.

Rob Williams says: “B2B companies have been slower to adopt ecommerce, but it will turn out to be good news for many of them. Three quarters of these companies are now getting ready to replace their first generation ecommerce systems. Others are looking at B2B ecommerce for the first time. That means that they can take full advantage of our improved understanding of their Millennial customers and new models of delivery and service that will put them ahead of the field.”

Recent research shows that 73 per cent of Millennials are involved in B2B purchasing decisions. Definitions vary, but Millennials are likely to have been born in the late 1970s to late 1990s. They have grown up with the internet and all the technology that now enables ecommerce.

Rob Williams says these Millennial buyers are looking for the same high quality user experience for their B2B purchases that they find in retail. Flexible payment options, personalised web content, and after-sales customer service are high priorities for modern B2B ecommerce customers.

Payment using credit cards, PayPal, and pay-over-time methods are likely to play an ever-increasing role in B2B purchases. Purchase orders, credit terms and flexible financing methods that have been standard selling tools for B2B will now need to be rethought for the new generation. B2B buyers are focused on efficiency. Highly relevant personalised content will provide value and save time. Artificial intelligence (AI) can now deliver deep analysis and intelligent purchase recommendations based on what customers already own or provide additional data about products they are searching for. B2B eCommerce sellers also need to make after-sales information and support a priority. Companies that provide online troubleshooting advice or information that helps customers quickly resolve issues will have a clear advantage.

B2B eCommerce sellers also need to make sure that online information supports the quotes and contracts offered by their sales force. Rob Williams says: “Our B2B clients often have large product portfolios, detailed pricing structures and complex distribution processes. Their big hurdles have been flexible pricing, accurate product descriptions and integration with business systems.”

“To meet their needs we were building custom B2B sites using a variety of technologies, languages and platforms. That can be expensive and time-consuming and sometimes it felt as if we were reinventing the wheel. What our customers were really looking for was a one-stop service that included their platform, hosting, support and security. We saw a gap in the market and created Cloudfy in the Cloud to meet their needs.”

“Efficiency and ease of use are the leading trends for the new generation of online B2B buyers, along with mobile ordering and payment. Cloudfy is an example of a 21st century Cloud-based B2B ecommerce solution delivering a level of sophistication that makes online purchasing easier for trade buyers. It’s far better than waiting for a printed catalogue to arrive or a sales rep to call. There are also great tools like Punch Out that let internal systems work with eCommerce platforms to streamline processes.”

“B2B companies that are ready to adapt their marketing and sales strategies to Millennial expectations and demands are likely to outperform their competition. There are figures showing that the scale for the B2B market is likely to be two to four times larger than the retail sector very soon. That’s why so many B2B businesses are now looking to take advantage of this $1.13 trillion ecommerce opportunity.”

What makes Cloudfy the right approach for next generation B2B ecommerce?

Cloudfy has an advanced application programing interface (API) to enable process integration with the back office and pre-built interfaces for leading business systems like Sage, SAP and MS Dynamics. Increased sales are supported with efficient order processing, ease of use including features such as unique customer logins and easy round-the-clock online access. Costs can also be reduced with streamlined and automated processes. A customer can place an order in the middle of the night. As long as the order meets certain criteria such as sufficient credit and available stock, it can be processed in seconds and be waiting for fulfilment first thing in the morning.

Rob Williams says: “Since Cloudfy is a Cloud-based service a new eCommerce site can be launched in weeks rather than months and maintained with a monthly subscription, with minimal capital costs“We listen to our customers and, using our own experience, we are developing new features all the time. One of the unique things about Cloudfy is that it is multi-tenanted, so when we develop a new solution, everyone gets it – it’s evergreen.”

By Rob Williams, CEO, Cloudfy

This article appears in the July/August 2017 issue of Direct Commerce Magazine.