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5 Critical Challenges B2B Businesses Face in Ecommerce Implementation

B2B businesses are faced with a unique set of challenges compared to B2C. Here are five key challenges to address that may be the most significant to success.


Failure to integrate with existing infrastructure

B2B businesses have their own unique processes and policies, including how to price for customers, promotions, and much more. They may even have existing technology like proprietary accounting software or customer loyalty software. These are critical to consider when choosing an ecommerce platform because not every platform has the flexibility to integrate with every existing process, policy, or technology infrastructure.

When reviewing potential platforms, make sure you understand how easily each can integrate with essential back-office systems. If your ecommerce platform can’t integrate, then you will be decreasing your efficiency and increasing your total cost per transaction. Reduce the amount of custom development required to achieve the integration you need by selecting a platform that has the most built-in integration points with your back-office. Also, make sure that you know what’s involved in each integration, as some platforms work better together than others.

Inferior UX

Poor user experience is usually the result of the interface not being intuitive enough; it may be inferior on mobile, or it does not meet the expectations that B2B customers have built up using B2C platforms. But it can also be caused by the platform not meeting the buying workflows your customers are accustomed to, nor matching close enough to the personal relationships they’ve built up with your sales team.

Most interface issues can be fixed with a good ecommerce platform partner who has a robust testing strategy and deep usability expertise. However, you will also need to study your customers’ purchase habits. The platform needs to be optimized to emulate customer requests for quoting, purchasing approval, and merchandize authorization processes to ensure their experience expectations are met.

Developing without internal buy-in

Getting buy-in from the organization is a top-down approach. A lack of internal buy-in stands in the way of developing a comprehensive ecommerce strategy and close coordination between key stakeholders in sales, IT, marketing, and ecommerce operations.

IT executives, for example, may not allocate the necessary in-house expertise and resources to support the platform. Sales representatives may feel threatened by the platform and may work against the new sales channel. Any of these problems will make it impossible for the business to extract the full value from ecommerce.

Business leaders must be aware of the impact to the organization and, depending on your project type, the changes required to implement an ecommerce platform.

How can you help drive adoption?

  • Conduct an audit to see if there are efficiencies to be gained in inventory management, shipping and/or order processing. Then determine if the new platform add efficiencies that will benefit sales and customer service teams.
  • Look at the ROI of the new platform. Some questions to ask as part of that include:
    • Will there be cost savings resulting from automation of processes?
    • Can you reduce the amount and cost of manual data entry required to enter and process orders?
    • Can you reduce printing costs with less reliance on production and mailing of catalogs?
    • Can you move away from legacy programs that have high maintenance costs?
  • Consider potential revenue gains as part of the ROI:
    • Increased customer satisfaction results in more frequent orders with higher purchase amounts.
    • An effective ecommerce platform will allow you to increase cross-sell or upsells through suggested products.
    • It will also free sales teams from spending time on repetitive orders and allow them to spend time developing higher value opportunities.
  • Work with an experienced platform vendor partner who can help identify and engage with the stakeholders to both extract their requirements and later support and train them to use the platform may incentivize stakeholders and turn them from adopters into advocates.

Remember that the cost of choosing the wrong ecommerce platform is often much higher than the cost of choosing the right one.

Incorrect pricing of platform

Beyond development cost there are hidden costs for hosting, licensing fees, maintenance, upgrades and additional features, and PCI security and compliance. All these will drive prices up and make it difficult to justify the cost of implementation.

However, a good platform vendor will be able to structure an advantageous pricing plan, perhaps something that will keep initial investment lower and scale up as your ecommerce platform grows.

Misaligned strategic road map

It is essential to B2B ecommerce success that the development road map of the platform meets the future needs of your business. Will its development direction match your projected requirements in terms of features and other qualities?

Some of the key features and functionality you should consider are outlined later in this article, but additional features to consider are assisted sales alternatives like AI-enabled chat, innovative fulfilment options that promote channel engagement, and customer retention, as well as microservices from the platform vendor such as the ability to tweak the architecture with fluidity.

A good platform vendor will be able to share with you its development focus and other upcoming features the platform will include. It should also listen closely and be responsive to the needs of your business to improve the fit for the long term.