As 2020 quickly approaches, B2B businesses know and understand the importance of eCommerce and digital transformation.
In fact, according to a recent study, 94% of B2B executives acknowledge that B2B eCommerce is critical to business advantage and results. And, 87% said accelerating their strategy is a strategic priority.
Today, businesses are using their digital strategy as a way to create real change and growth within their organization or across an entire industry. More and more, complex businesses are focused on moving all ordering, logistics, and procurement processes – everything from eCommerce or order management – online.
And those who’ve been online for awhile, are working on upgrading their digital experiences. In fact, 76% of B2B executives plan to upgrade their online ordering experience within the next two years.
Much of the movement towards digital upgrades and digital disruption is the result of modern, advanced technologies that are now available. Tech experts and novices alike have figured out that harnessing the power of APIs allows you to keep pace with customer expectations, drive digital differentiation and really future proof your commerce strategy.
In Forrester’s latest report on “The New Commerce Revolution,” Joe Cicman, an analyst at Forrester, says, “You need agility, powered by a flexible architecture, to keep pace with improving customer experiences and new channels. You need APIs to transform how you design and deliver change, unlock new revenue streams, and extend your value proposition. The latest commerce revolution [involving headless architecture and APIs] builds on years of grievances with things like fragmented experiences, hard-to-make customizations and a disconnect with content, and now there’s a new rallying point.”
Those that are going to create the most effective digital disruption are doing so by joining this new commerce revolution. There are fewer excuses to stay on the sidelines because businesses now have access to modern technologies like headless architecture and APIs.
4 Ways Complex Businesses Generate Disruptive eCommerce Results
Four51 delivers custom, scalable eCommerce, order management and B2B marketplace solutions powered by headless architecture and APIs on our Four51 OrderCloud platform. Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen companies transition from digital adoption to digital disruption, generating game-changing commerce results in many ways. Here are 4 ways our customers are generating disruptive eCommerce results for their business or their industries:
- Joining the Marketplace Revolution
- Automating Manual Processes
- Future-Proofing Your Commerce Strategy
1.Join the Marketplace Revolution
B2B marketplaces are taking off. From Airbnb and eBay, to Amazon and Etsy – marketplaces are taking off in all realms of our lives. This new business model is disrupting and transforming the way that businesses and industries run.
Revenues from marketplace platform providers are expected to double by 2022, according to a recent survey by Coresight Research.
At Four51, we define B2B marketplace as an online procurement network that connects your entire supplier and vendor network with your buyers, so that they can purchase a wide range of goods and services in one place, online. The marketplace sponsor or operator decides which buyers and suppliers are approved to do business in the marketplace.
We’ve seen and worked with many types of marketplaces:
- Start-up technology businesses that want to disrupt an industry by connecting suppliers with buyers digitally.
- Traditional supply chain management functions in large retail corporations that need to connect suppliers around the world with thousands of retail locations.
- Franchise corporations that want to efficiently connect franchisees with approved suppliers and manage aggregated pricing across their network.
B2B Marketplace Example: CUPS
Company: CUPS is a tech start-up that is dedicated to rethinking independent coffee shop operations.
Problem: CUPS was founded on the principle that it is hard for independent coffee shops to procure goods at affordable rates if you’re not part of a larger chain of coffee shops. So they set out to change that. CUPS came to Four51 because they needed a platform that would allow them to create a custom, B2B marketplace that would connect shops to the right suppliers with the exact online experience they were looking for.
Solution: In three months, CUPS was able to build the CUPS Supply Store, which is a digital one-stop-shop for independent coffee shops who are part of the network to buy all the supplies coffee shops need to run their business. The ordering process is simple for coffee shops, and the platform utilizes the logic needed to enable submitted orders to be split by supplier on the back-end and routed appropriately.
2. Automate Manual Processes
Most businesses are used to having to settle for cumbersome manual processes. These manual processes mean order errors, lost time and expensive staff – all of which keep you from achieving the disruptive results you’re looking for.
Today, you don’t have to settle. With modern headless architecture and APIs, you don’t just get digital automation. You get digital automation your way.
We think of automating manual processes in three main ways:
- Systems Integrations – Most companies need their eCommerce experience to be integrated with various business systems, like ERP, CSM, CRM and more.
- Eliminating Manual Order Entry – With headless eCommerce you’re able to eliminate the need for orders to be manually entered – a customer is able to place an order online and it will automatically flow through your eCommerce platform.
- Automating Unique Workflows – B2B businesses often have many different customers – each with unique needs when it comes to workflows. Modern eCommerce technologies allow your business to create rules, requirements, and approvals specific to each customer.
Automate Manual Processes Example – Diversified Foodservice Supply (DFS)
Company: Diversified Foodservice Supply (DFS) is a distributor of restaurant parts, supplies, and equipment to the foodservice industry.
Problem: DFS was looking for a better online ordering experience for some of their biggest customers. DFS has ten unique brands that sell over 100,000 SKUs to over 53,000unique customers like Chipotle, Honey Baked Ham and more. The eCommerce technology they had been using wasn’t flexible enough to allow them to respond to each customers’ unique requirements.
Solution: DFS came to Four51 with the challenge of automating the complex workflows for each of their unique customers. One customer, for example, needed the ability to set-up a complex approval system, triggered at certain price thresholds. Another customer needed the ability to control shipping and billing for each user or location. Four51 delivered.
Businesses are fed up with many of the grievances they’ve lived with for years – things like fragmented experiences, disconnected systems, hard-to-make customizations. Forward-thinking companies are moving away from archaic technologies and replatforming.
We hear about things like:
- Inability to meet deadlines
- Consistently have to deny new feature requests
- Constant avoidance of customizations, updates and upgrades
- A halt all together in an integration strategy that’s going to connect systems and sync and consolidate data.
What businesses learn when they start exploring headless architecture and APIs, is that they can get the uniquely custom order management, online commerce or B2B marketplace solution they need for their business. Headless architecture and APIs really do allow you to be agile, be scalable, and think long-term.
Replatforming Example: D&W Diesel
Company: D&W Diesel is a national distributor and remanufacturer of a wide variety of products for industrial and mobile equipment applications.
Problem: D&W Diesel adopted eCommerce in 2009, but as their business matured, they quickly outgrew their platform. As they explored eCommerce providers, they recognized that they are unique and an off-the-shelf solution wouldn’t cut it.
Solution: Four51 was able to build an eCommerce platform for D&W Diesel which featured search capabilities for customers to navigate their 60,000 SKUs, complex pricing structure for different types of buyers, and integrate with an existing homegrown ERP system. The replatforming process was complete in less than 9 months.
4. Future-Proof eCommerce Strategy
Many companies today realize they need a more flexible, customizable eCommerce infrastructure to respond to specific eCommerce challenges or workflows, but they don’t want to rethink their entire technology stack again and again.
For businesses, this means focusing on more than just today’s problems, but problems and opportunities that may or may not happen in the future.
APIS and headless architecture allow you to create a more future-proof strategy. These modern technologies allow for the flexibility to scale with growth and pivot with changing customer demands. The prior generation of eCommerce suite vendors have lost their ability to keep pace because it’s so hard for them to take advantage of new touchpoints and new technologies
Forrester describes future-proof as “a strategy that enables you to evolve your customer experience and adopt any new touchpoint without being dependent on your eCommerce vendor to enable that touchpoint. With only incremental effort, you’re able to add or replace new experiences via outside APIs and microservices.”
An API-first strategy, allows you to take advantage of new and emerging technologies – be it Augmented Reality, Voice Search or the Internet of Things, or even just the latest tax calculation software or a shiny new loyalty program API. With APIs, you can continue to enhance and evolve your experience without worrying about disrupting the main commerce operations your business runs on. And that’s what makes your strategy truly future-proof.
Future-Proof eCommerce Strategy Example – Bachman’s
Company: Bachman’s is a national floral retailer
Problem: Bachman’s recognized that redevelopment of their Bachmans.com experience was needed. They had significant performance issues with their old platform that couldn’t handle their complex product set and active customer base.
Solution: Four51 worked to redesign and replatform the Bachmans.com eCommerce experience. Today, the new eCommerce experience features a modern customer experience with modern search capabilities, robust content, and a personalized experience for customer service teams. Bachman’s now has the ability to easily integrate and add new experiences and technologies to continue to enhance the system. For example, their content is managed by Contentful, an API-first content management system integrated into the eCommerce experience. And order status notifications are managed via Mandrill.
If your business is focused on generating disruptive eCommerce results and out-of-the-box eCommerce software hasn’t worked for you, we should chat! At Four51, we deliver custom commerce solutions that are powered by next generation eCommerce technology built on APIs. These solutions are designed and delivered via proven methodology and over 20 years of experience in business.
We believe that to be truly disruptive, you need something different that isn’t available anywhere else.