Globally, by 2020 the B2B ecommerce market will be twice as large as the B2C market — $6.7 trillion vs. $3.2 trillion — according to research provider Frost & Sullivan .
In the U.S., Forrester Research predicts that B2B ecommerce sales will reach $780 billion and represent 9.3% of all B2B sales by the end of 2015.
Forrester forecasts that B2B ecommerce will exceed $1.1 trillion and comprise 12% of all B2B sales in the United States by 2020. Like Frost & Sullivan, Forrester sizes B2B ecommerce as being twice the size of B2C by 2020.
Interestingly, B2C ecommerce, despite a marked uptick in adoption, is growing at half the rate of B2C ecommerce. From 2015 through 2020, Forrester pegs the B2B ecommerce CARG at 7.7%. Comparatively, eMarketer gauges the CAGR of B2C ecommerce at 14% during roughly the same time period.
Making this growth speed gap even more remarkable, B2B ecommerce is nascent-stage with enormous growth potential while B2C ecommerce is commonplace and world’s away from a ‘green field’ opportunity.
Why B2B lags behind B2C ecommerce
With the promise of such enormous gain, why is B2B ecommerce taking so long to take hold and take off relative to B2B ecommerce?
Complexity tops the list. While B2B and B2C ecommerce share much in common, conducting transactions in the two worlds can be markedly different. B2B products can be highly complex, making it difficult to accurately present them across multiple channels.
B2B account management -- with different types of users serving different roles, varying contracts, trading relationships, price lists and delivery options -- is starkly different and vastly more complex than B2C account management for individual consumers.
B2B order fulfillment also presents complexity, requiring extensive integration with purchasing systems, logistics systems, ERP, CRM, finance and billing systems.
When we add to this complexity dated, siloed legacy systems, entrenched business practices, and widespread digital immaturity, it’s understandable how a business-as-usual mindset can hamper pulling the trigger on innovative B2B ecommerce initiatives.
B2B catching the ecommerce craze
Today, consumerization in the workplace, cost and competitive pressures, strong customer demand for an easy, convenient, and simplified purchasing experience, and the potential for tapping new revenue streams collude to create a definite inflection point for B2B ecommerce adoption, as evidenced by the rosy analyst predictions above.
Suffice it to say, the demand for multi-channel B2B ecommerce is huge, and will continue to grow in the years ahead. B2B companies not advancing on the ecommerce front are doomed for irrelevancy and, ultimately, insolvency, as their customers jump ship in droves for competitors that provide tightly integrated, highly personalized online sites that are well designed, easy to use, and that help them quickly find what they want.
Along with this customer-facing aspect of ecommerce, the ability to integrate finance, accounting, order management, and other backend systems with an ecommerce portal is equally essential, as is automating payment and invoicing.
To attract and retain today’s ‘consumerized,’ digitally immersed, social-media connected procurement professionals, B2B organizations must work quickly to offer customers, suppliers and partners a robust, integrated ecommerce infrastructure and state-of-the-art, omni-channel frontend.
The Holy Grail for B2B ecommerce is a single, centralized planning and execution platform that satisfies all B2B ecommerce requirements, seamlessly integrates with numerous, core business applications, and, most importantly, delivers a holistic, satisfying customer experience across all channels, such as online stores, mobile, kiosks, contact centers, and social media.
SAP customers are well positioned to cash in on B2B ecommerce
The timing has never been better for SAP B2B customers looking to capitalize on the ecommerce craze. The SAP Customer Engagement and Commerce portfolio – heavily bolstered by omni-channel commerce solutions from hybris – enables end-to-end B2B ecommerce capabilities that yield significant, immediate gains and provide a scalable, agile platform for future ecommerce growth.
Acquired by SAP in 2013, hybris specializes in multi-channel e-commerce technology that helps businesses strengthen brands, solidify customer relationships, and grow revenue by empowering them to present customers a compelling and consistent experience across all channels.
SAP and hybris have worked at break-neck speed conjoining the agile omni-channel commerce solutions of hybris with robust enterprise technology and industry leading in-memory, cloud and mobile innovations from SAP to facilitate new levels of customer insight and engagement.
The endgame, largely achieved, is to create an SAP customer engagement and commerce (CEC) portfolio, powered by SAP HANA, that integrates its Commerce Suite, Cloud for Customer and the newly launched SAP hybris Marketing Solution , which provides businesses that much coveted 360 view of the customer.
Also recently announced as part of SAP Solutions for Customer Engagement and Commerce, SAP® hybris® Billing (formerly the SAP Billing and Revenue Innovation Management solution ) provides an end-to-end solution for complete coverage of the offer-to-cash process for new digital business models.
A recognized leader in all facets of digital commerce, hybris most recently is named a Leader in B2B commerce suites in Forrester Research, Inc.’s report entitled: “The Forrester Wave™: B2B Commerce Suites, Q2 2015” , dated 26 June 2015.
In the report, Forrester credits hybris for making “significant R&D investments over the past two years in B2B features including integration with SAP’s CPQ tools, the development of DataHub (an integration and data exchange tool that provides robust integration with SAP’s ERP), a focus on account and organization hierarchies, and an all new responsive-enabled B2B reference store.”
A new standard in B2B commerce is rapidly emerging, and it closely parallels the experience that B2C consumers have come to expect from their online purchases.
According to Forrester , 74% of B2B buyers today research at least one-half of their work purchases online, and 30% complete at least half of their work purchases online. With that percentage nearly doubling to 56% by 2017, B2B sellers will see a significant volume of offline business move online in the next few years.
As an SAP Gold Partner and a trusted hybris partner, NTT DATA is uniquely qualified to lead your digital B2B ecommerce transformation.
We specialize in accelerating deployment times while reducing cost and complexity by leveraging deep SAP expertise, hybris-certified consultants, best-practice tools and accelerators, and our proven experience in successfully implementing multiple types of ecommerce solutions.
Contact NTT DATA today to begin or accelerate your B2B ecommerce journey.