If you do not have an existing eCommerce platform, or you have an eCommerce platform that does not interact with products, operational or accounting systems, you might be stuck in a time loop circa the 1990s. But not in the good, grunge rock Nirvana way. No, if your B2B company does not have eCommerce systems integrated with your ERP, you quickly will fall out of fashion.
The new world of transactional business requires B2B to be on trend with their B2C counterparts. While eCommerce solutions are an expected part of operating in the B2C space for buying and selling everything from groceries to cars, it may not be such an obvious component of doing business in the B2B world. But it is: Forrester forecasts that B2B eCommerce transactions will pass $1.8 trillion by 2023, accounting for 17% of all B2B sales in the United States.
You may not be moving entirely from an offline business to an online business, but you still need a conduit to sales online for your B2B clients. They expect it, and the benefits to you are numerous.
Benefits of eCommerce for B2B
Through an eCommerce platform you will be able to digitize ordering processes, showcase a products catalog online and save time in the procurement process. Further, eCommerce adds a new revenue and distribution channel.
If your B2B company is operating without an eCommerce functionality, you are likely plugging through with a patchwork of platforms and steps. Instead, think about integrating a platform like Shopify into your ERP system and start reaping immediate benefits.
For your customer, you can deliver a seamless experience. According to HubSpot, 39% of B2B customers want self-service options. Point of sale (POS) systems are integral to the customer experience and eCommerce alike. There are many reasons to embrace eCommerce:
- The business has multiple enterprise solutions to integrate (ERP, OMS, CRM)
- Your physical location needs to bridge gap to online sales, selling DTC or B2B
- Scaling the business is running into bottlenecks at the POS
- You need more native functionality with less reliance on third-party solutions
It can be scary for businesses that are at a fork in the decision making process. When leaders have to decide, do we add this additional platform or functionality? Internally there may not be support for the technical complexities of integrating eCommerce with your ERP system. There may be a worry about strain on staff.
This can be prevented by working with experienced consultants who understand all of the tools available and how they work together. The technology changes so quickly, it’s important to work with professionals in that software ecosystem to enable your business to be responsive to changing tastes, strains on supply chain and dozens of other factors affecting eCommerce.
eCommerce saves time, overhead and grows revenue
B2B business traditionally involved labor-intensive, manual sales and marketing processes, taking too much time. The introduction of digital commerce helps these businesses reduce costs and improve efficiency through automation.
The digital transformation of business through increased eCommerce functionality in recent years is not exclusive to the B2C space. B2B companies are embracing it, too. For example, manufacturing businesses impacted by the pandemic looked to move as much online as possible. From offering parts through online selling to managing the supply chain, eCommerce functionality has become essential.
For the growing mom and pop shop that may lack funding to add to headcount, they must have a website that enables management of end to end business. Ordering is a particularly cumbersome process without an eCommerce function. From data management to tracking inventory and delivering the products, automating the multistep sales process allows a manufacturer to scale quickly.
An eCommerce function is really a gateway into a new type of sales program for your company. It can add efficiencies without adding the overhead. Once implemented, you’re a 24-hour business without the 24-hour expense. Further, businesses can feel empowered to accept orders, charge applicable taxes, process credit card transactions, adjust inventory levels, pick-pack-ship, update financials and have data all in one place for reporting and analytics.
When looking for an eCommerce solution, it’s important to work with experienced partners. The technology end of it can be complex. Add to this the business process improvement needed, and internal teams can get overwhelmed. Ideally, work with a consulting firm who can offer an eCommerce solution that integrates with your ERP.
What happens when you do not integrate eCommerce with ERP?
The simple answer is that a lack of integrated eCommerce leads to pain points that are difficult to overcome. What are they?
Disconnected Systems: Require multiple manual entries, lead to error-prone processes and foster business silos (e.g., sales and finance, inventory and website, etc.), making it difficult to get an accurate picture of organizational health.
Outdated accounting and ERP software: Retail and eCommerce companies using small business accounting packages or legacy ERP software must either rekey sales information into their back-office systems or use antiquated APIs to enter data. This results in time and cost-prohibitive delays and potential mistakes in product fulfillment. Companies are limited in how much they can customize the software to accommodate new features and technologies, restricting both efficiency and growth
Disparate platforms: Using disparate eCommerce and ERP platforms, or trying to handle all online sales processing through an eCommerce application customers expect from an online ordering system. This results in an inconsistent online/offline customer experience, adversely affecting the company’s brand, reputation and profitability.
Get eCommerce up and running
An eCommerce integration allows you to gain insight into every aspect of your business to help optimize your inventory management, improve customer satisfaction and make smarter, more proactive decisions.
It will seamlessly integrate your eCommerce storefront with the ERP system that houses your financials, inventory and distribution for complete real-time visibility and control from order acceptance to fulfillment.
Why Crestwood Associates?
Crestwood Associates delivers expert consulting on customized solutions to integrate your ERP system and eCommerce web store for a flexible, limitless, unified commerce solution that retains customers for life.
We advise key stakeholders on which technology solutions will have the greatest impact on your business goals by reviewing your system and processes. We then quantify the goals and map out a plan for action to achieve them.