B2B Digital Commerce
ECommerce versus Digital Commerce (DC)
EC vs DC | Aren’t they the same things? DC is the bigger picture
ECommerce and Digital Commerce are two perilously-mistaken-as-one concepts. The fact that these two terms, when spoken about together, are capitalised shows the subtleness of the matter. They both share a lot of similarities while still carrying elementary differences.
ECommerce is the typical buying and selling of goods or services over online platforms. Digital Commerce covers the entire customer journey from search to service. Is this not covered in eCommerce? Today, businesses already cover what technically comes under Digital Commerce as part of ECommerce.
The confusion arises from the reasoning that ‘electronic’ and ‘digital’ are the same or similar things. When we set on to define something, every detail matters. When we say electronic, we are talking about something technological like electronic devices. When we say digital devices, the emphasis is no longer on ‘electronics’ or ‘electrical’ but on data and information sharing and processing. So, when we say digital commerce it becomes more about information and exchange. When we say eCommerce, it is just a medium of trading like its counterpart physical brick-and-mortar retailing. Thus, when we say Digital Commerce, we are talking about managing data and information along the customer shopping journey in the background of value chains. ECommerce is a facilitating medium for customers and businesses to interact i.e. buy and sell. And because of this difference, the other differences follow.
While technically speaking, eCommerce is confined to buyer-seller interactions via online stores or online marketplace platforms; digital commerce focuses on how to make these interactions better for both customers and business via improvements in customer experience, digital touchpoints, digital marketing efforts, use of automation in customer support, social shopping, etc.
So what is B2B Digital Commerce?
Think of it as a digital facilitation of the customer journey from search to service
B2B (Business to Business) refers to a trading or transaction model between two business entities. When such trading takes place over the internet, it is called B2B ECommerce. When the approach changes from focusing merely on the channel i.e. eCommerce to improved client experience, the trading or transaction model begins to the shape of B2B Digital Commerce.
For example, a distributor selling goods to a retailer (both business entities) qualifies as B2B. When these two entities do the trading over the internet, it qualifies as B2B ECommerce. But when the distributor and retailer go beyond this simple give-and-take and begin to reach out to one another, for improved trading and business for both, using digital tools and technologies like digital marketing, analytics, automation, etc., such a way of doing business falls under the ambit of B2B Digital Commerce.
Why Digital Commerce for B2B
By leveraging the use of digital tools and technologies, B2B enterprises can meaningfully increase their market reach to cater to new locations and new clients. They can also penetrate deeper into supply chains or even enter new verticals. Going digital helps B2B businesses break out of the shackles of local and regional business and market constraints.
Transactional transparency is vital between two B2B businesses dealing remotely. The use of integrated software systems takes care of that need. New-age software platforms are highly-compatible and customisable for real-time information-sharing between business processes cutting across organisations.
Parties on both sides conduct business with greater confidence when the coordination between their entities and teams is impeccable over digital means.
As Digital Commerce emphasises on data and information, data sharing between B2B associates is more frequent, transparent, and relevant. These are useful requirements for data analytics followed by the benefits of better decision-making and strategy formulation.
Challenges in Digital Commerce for B2B
By taking the digital commerce route, B2B businesses immediately elevate themselves to the impeccable standards of the global B2B eCommerce market and fierce competitiveness. They need to plan this transition right with good strategies and implementation roadmaps. Identifying and embracing the tools and technologies of digital commerce is one of the foremost challenges faced by B2B companies.
Once the stage is set, the next challenge is brand positioning in the world of B2B digital commerce. And coming up with a balanced and effective digital marketing strategy could entail timelines that could extend up to months of trial and error.
Taking the assistance of a suitable B2B eCommerce consulting company could put things on the fast track. And businesses also benefit from reduced implementation timelines with planned and proven B2B eCommerce solutions.
The benefits and challenges of Digital Commerce and ECommerce look very similar. It is because they actually are; the former is only a broader version of the latter. So, when we speak about our services in the next section, we will cover B2B digital commerce encompassing B2B eCommerce.
How BPX can help
SOP Design and Implementation
The essence of our SOP consulting services is to help B2B businesses become process-driven enterprises. We develop SOPs and provide implementation assistance. Every business process and operation is defined using SOPs. The services are delivered by a team of expert SOP writing consultants. The team carries out extensive assessments to comprehend and map the existing processes and practices. One objective to do so is to optimise the need for change and keep things familiar to employees with the optimal need for training. The unique business and requirements of clients are duly taken into consideration. Documented and SOP-bound process definition and mapping provide the foundation for process automation and process standardisation.
In process documentation, we help our clients map and define their business processes in documented formats. These process documents contain the details of how to execute processes and operations. Our planned and proven methodologies help ensure that no critical operational detail is missed. Processes are defined using SOPs with relevant combinations of text and graphics. The process documents we design typically cover:
- Mapping the flow of work
- Identifying and defining the tasks at every step
- Process and operational resource requirements
- Standards of performance, input, and output
- Place of work
- Process owners and decision-makers
- Reporting and supervising
- Feedback mechanism
- Control measures
Process Standardization is bringing uniformity and consistency to business operations. Business processes are repetitive by nature. Thus, to ensure that the output that is created remains consistent and uniform every time, it is important to follow standardised procedures. Such standardisation also brings surety to the outcome of business processes and operations. This affects the experience meted out to customers. It becomes easier for external entities in the value chain to coordinate with an organisation with standardised processes. When transfers take place, employees in the same position do not have to learn things again.
BPX helps its clients achieve process standardisation in their organisations. We do it in a planned and systematic manner. The existing process and practices are carefully examined and documented. New process requirements are established. The strongest patterns are compared with the identified process requirements to create new workflows. A team of business process experts oversees and executes the service design and delivery.
Process automation and digitisation help businesses in a plethora of ways. The foremost benefit of the use of technology is enhanced speed and accuracy of business operations. Businesses get the opportunity to redirect manpower involvement from dull and repetitive tasks towards functions where the human touch is more suitable than such activities being carried out by machines. Optimising human involvement also reduces the exposure to errors, mistakes, and omissions.
Process automation and digitisation align with the essence of digital commerce. It lends transparency and easy access to process information among process owners cutting across value chain partners. This involves significant amounts of communication and connectivity among the beneficiaries. Digitisation and automation make this task easier. Every bit of data and information becomes a part of the larger software ecosystem that is relevant to different teams within an organisation and value chain entities in different ways. This required process and operations information becomes available to all concerned process stakeholders in almost real time. Another benefit of process automation and digitisation is the generation of business data for use in analytics.
In developing process solutions, one of our key objectives is to lend superior operational governance. Every process of every department is aligned with the business and functional objectives as per relevance. Every operation and operational activity is benchmarked with standards. Nothing is left to chance or unplanned ways of working or unguided decision-making. An in-built reporting mechanism works behind the SOPs enabling timely and accurate information-sharing on routine operational statuses from all SOP-affected corners.
BPX’s service design and delivery are executed by skilled and experienced process consultants. The assignments of projects and selection of teams are done factoring in qualifications, past experience in handling similar projects, and relevant industry exposure. Each project is supervised by a principal consultant. Solutions are designed following a planned and systematic approach.
Software Selection and SOP-IT Integration
Choosing the right software is a deciding factor in improving operations and achieving operational excellence. Securing the compatibility between business operational requirements and software capabilities is the soul of the matter here.
BPX helps identify the best-fit IT solutions for business processes and operations. We also help clients in developing robust processes for vendor search and selection, software customisation, and implementation of the software.
Training and Implementation Assistance
The jump from a non-SOP environment to an SOP-based environment is a big transition for employees. It is natural for employees to perceive any major change in the working systems as alien on many grounds. This includes providing the know-how of using new software applications and features. Besides, new working systems come with many new requirements.
We develop and impart the necessary training programs to acclimatise employees with the new workflows and the new software background. BPX also provides initial assistance in picking up the SOPs with practical and systematic direction.
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When we say B2B Commerce we are referring to B2B without eCommerce or digital commerce. Here are five renowned challenges with B2B Commerce:
- Limited market outreach without eCommerce/digital commerce
- Requires a highly personalised approach
- Client Relationship Management
- Meeting buyer requirements call for major customisations
- Complex value chains
Both B2B Commerce and B2B ECommerce (Business to Business ECommerce) share many common challenges. While eCommerce addresses many challenges that exist in the traditional format, the former has its own bag of defying moments to deal with.
- Highly competitive, sometimes the competitors are not visible or well-known
- High functioning and operational standards
- Brand positioning
- Achieving effectiveness in digital marketing
- Requires a highly personalised approach
- Meeting buyer requirements call for major customisations
- Complex value chains
ECommerce or Digital Commerce opens up a multitude of avenues for business improvement in B2B. Done right, some of the derivable benefits are:
- Enhance market reach to cater to new locations and new clients
- Enhanced transparency in operations with the use of digital systems
- Better CRM and confidence among parties with enhanced data sharing and communication
- Use of data analytics for better decision-making and mutual interests