The report “Swedish B2B Commerce in 2017” has given us many insights into what companies in Sweden consider to be a successful involvement in e-commerce. For an investment in digital commerce to live up to the expectations a B2B company has, it has become increasingly important to successfully integrate the e-commerce solution with other business and support systems in the enterprise.
There are high expectations when it comes to what an e-commerce solution can bring the enterprise and what it can do for sales. Ninety-four percent of Swedish B2B companies think their own digital sales will increase in the next three years, and a third think that sales will increase by over 25 percent.
According to Swedish B2B Commerce in 2017 the strongest driving force behind a digital initiative is a wish to simplify administration and streamline sales, closely followed by a desire to increase the level of service to customers. For an investment in digital commerce to achieve the desired results, you often need more than a new e-commerce solution, however.
“If you want to deliver customer service and streamline sales, you have to look at which parts of the internal processes will be affected by an investment in digital commerce. After which, you can look at how the e-commerce platform can be integrated with the affected business and support systems,” says Fredrik Hrdlicka, Sales Manager at Litium.
Of the B2B companies that have a digital sales channel today, 81 percent have some form of integration between their e-commerce solution and other business and support systems. In other words, only in relatively few cases is the e-commerce solution an isolated part of the enterprise. As was the case in the previous year, integration with the company’s ERP system is a primary issue. Over 60 percent say that they have integrated their e-commerce solution with their business system.
PIM integration to an ever increasing extent
New this year is that just over a third of the companies (35%) have also integrated a PIM or product management system into an e-commerce solution. The corresponding figure for 2016 was just 15 percent. Larger companies are very clearly leading the way here. Fully 46 percent of companies with a turnover above SEK 200 million have an integrated PIM system.
“This is a development we have already seen on the consumer side. Product information is becoming increasingly important to improve and build the customer experience. B2B companies are now starting to realize that they must give their customers tools to discover and be inspired by their products. The large ranges and detailed technical information B2B companies often have also means they have to find a way to present product information in a simple and easy to understand way. This is where PIM systems become a key part of the solution,” says Hrdlicka.
In addition to enhancing the customer experience, PIM also helps make the organization more efficient.
“Although B2B companies don't replace their range as often as B2C companies, they often have a huge product range that has to be easy to manage. With an integrated PIM system, even large product catalogs can be managed simply and easily,” he adds.
A more accessible offer makes life easier for customers
According to B2B companies that have already chosen to invest in digital commerce, the most important result of their e-commerce investment has been making their offer more accessible. In other words, it's all about simplifying the purchase process for customers and presenting your offer in a way that enables potential customers to find what they are looking for.
By integrating e-commerce with existing business systems (ERP), you ensure that all underlying flows work friction free. Having an integrated PIM system in your e-commerce solution makes product management much simpler for the company to administer and the product range easier for customers to access. The principal driving forces behind simplifying administration and streamlining sales effectively deliver the most important results in a natural way.
“This thinking by today's successful B2B companies is absolutely correct. It makes sense to start with something as fundamental as product information. This is a key element and one that also becomes a good starting point to pursue successful e-commerce,” says Hrdlicka.
Focusing on customers and meeting their expectations is a recurring theme in the Swedish B2B Commerce in 2017 report. Swedish B2B companies are increasingly realizing that they must adapt their business in line with what customers are used to. Being able to manage everything digitally quickly and easily will soon be self-evident for many people, including B2B customers.
The report can be downloaded here (In Swedish): svenskb2bhandel.se.
Do you and your company want further advice on how to get started with digital commerce? Please contact us at Litium and together, we can find the best way forward for your particular enterprise.