B2B E-Commerce and Overcoming Channel Conflict

As e-commerce continues to penetrate and integrate at every level of traditional commercial enterprise, it was only a matter of time before business to business (B2B) commerce became a hot topic in the industry.

B2B e-commerce has been around since the internet itself first became commercialised and has spawned a rise in the number and variety of media businesses, online services and technology options. Now retail manufacturers and distributors are also embracing these changes wholeheartedly. Where once print catalogues abounded, now product content management systems and other solutions are taking their place.

Of course, compared with the rest of the world, Australia is a little behind the times when it comes to B2B e-commerce.

A survey of Australian B2B businesses conducted in late 2013 by Frost & Sullivan revealed that 90 percent of participants still hadn’t implemented an e-commerce system of any kind. Despite many of the study’s respondents stating an interest in pursuing the development and use of an online sales channel, most have yet to make a committed investment.

Considering B2B e-commerce? Find out more about getting started, avoiding channel conflict and getting the best for your business at ICF Interactive’s upcoming B2B eCommerce Deep Dive event.

Art Lawida, Senior Vice President and eCommerce Practice Director at ICF Interactive, a multichannel commerce and digital marketing solution provider, highlights the example set by Doosan, a Korean conglomerate whose infrastructure support businesses include industrial facilities, machinery, heavy equipment and construction, and for which Bobcat is one of its most recognisable brands.

Founded in 1896, Doosan can lay claim to being Korea’s oldest modern retail business. As a global business, the company needs to process a multitude of orders and requests per hour across multiple languages and currencies. Not only that, but Doosan also fulfils these requests via multiple channels – all of which must be fully attributed and accountable.

“With the ability to leverage a truly B2B commerce solution, bringing together best-of-breed solutions from hybris and SAP, we were able to work with Doosan to create a seamless, transact able environment that could be accessed by both Doosan’s dealers and its business users,” Lawida says.

The Channel Conflict Conundrum

In the realm of B2B commerce, there’s an even greater threat of having conflicts arise between sales channels.

As we’ve already seen in our local industry, there is already a trend for manufacturers and distributors to actually present a B2C facing websites and thereby sell product direct to consumer – an extreme example of channel conflict. But this can also occur to a lesser degree for B2B brands that haven’t even taken this leap.

Alex Moss, Solution Manager at ICF Interactive, asserts that B2B e-commerce is most successful when a delicate interaction occurs between businesses, both retailers, outlets, manufacturers and distributors of various sizes.

“Essentially, any B2B commerce business must ensure the use of private sale and multi-tiered functionality so as to allow for the correct price to be presented to the appropriate client,” Moss explains.

As you can imagine, conflict will arise when a manufacturer is providing the same price on a bulk order to a distributor as well as a retailer – only the most integrated and cohesive management systems will have any ability to avoid this occurring.

“By leveraging an integrated and omnichannel solution like hybris, the management of different distribution and sales channels and their different pricing strategies can be seamlessly and cohesively managed to avoid conflict between traditional and emerging channels,” Moss says. “They can also be used to eliminate more manual processes, helping to drive efficiencies and enable fulfilment of orders to vendors previously untenable to do so.”

Still unsure about B2B e-commerce? Register below to attend an upcoming hybris Game Plan event at Sydney’s Simmer on the Bay. This exclusive event is due to run from 11.30am to 6.15pm, April 9 AEST.

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