Better B2B E-Commerce: Misconceptions, Missed Opportunities

Manufacturers and distributors are, naturally, well-aware of the successes that strong e-commerce platforms bring to business-to-consumer (B2C) enterprises. Think Amazon, primarily, or any other big-box stores that offer their whole catalog online, in addition to in-store pickups or other convenient perks. But for these manufacturers and distributors, their business-to-business (B2B) dealings have most often taken on different forms for years, if not decades: contracts on paper, or over the telephone, via dedicated salespeople. Things are a bit slower than they are in Amazon’s world, but at least a buyer knows they can pick up the phone and talk to a familiar person who had their best interests in mind.

Even in the B2B world, that landscape is changing. Because more procurement people — and manufacturing professionals on the whole — are increasingly familiar with simple and elegant B2C e-commerce online, they’re starting to bring some of those demands into their acquisition process. Linda Taddonio, Insite’s Chief eCommerce Strategist, has seen these changes occur on over the last decade, and argues that it’s time for manufacturers to implement a true B2B e-commerce system.

These days, she says, “Customers are now in charge, and they’re going to dictate who thrives. I think most organizations — especially manufacturers — are kind of unwilling to believe that. They want to believe their traditional business model is still in control, that their sales rep relationship, which builds those contracts, is still holding up their business model. What I think they don’t realize is that it’s being nipped away at in ways they might not have the analytics to support.”

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