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6 Key Business Benefits of B2B E-Commerce

Whether you’re a seasoned online sales expert or just starting on your journey towards e-commerce success, you probably already know what a massive difference an online sales portal can make. But are you aware of just how much a web store can do for your organization, and how long the list of B2B e-commerce benefits is?

Recap: A Refresher on What B2B Buyers Want

Do you know what your B2B buyers want? Are your customers demanding an online channel? If you’re already aware of the gaps that need filling, read on to learn more about the six key benefits of B2B e-commerce and see how your business can flourish. If not, check out our latest research – for insights on what your customers want.

Overview: The Top 6 Benefits of B2B E-Commerce in 2019

Benefit 1: Tap More Business Opportunities

A web store can help strengthen your online presence, letting potential clients and resellers find you through search engines.

This is especially effective if you choose to make your catalog pages public. However, even if you decide to keep your catalog private, you can use targeted marketing content in your web store to grab the attention of new clients. (Read the Marketing Edition of our Solution Highlights to learn how Sana can help drive better online marketing).

Benefit 2: Improve B2B E-Commerce Sales

Attracting more clients can help boost your sales, but that’s not the only way a B2B e-commerce platform can help improve your business performance.

Choosing the right B2B e-commerce solution lets you display relevant and specific product recommendations for your visitors. You can make sure your clients see related products, but also items with more features, unlocking powerful cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.

With Sana Commerce, our customers (on average) have reported a 21% jump in e-commerce conversion rates and an 8% jump in revenue as a result of their integrated B2B web store. 

Check out our factsheet for more findings from our customer research survey.

Benefit 3: Lower Your Costs

Growing your revenue while minimizing your costs might sound impossible, but it’s a very real benefit of B2B e-commerce.

Modern technology lets you take almost every aspect of your business online, including order entry, client information provision and customer service. By automating and streamlining these various processes, your company can cut down on unnecessary costs – even while you make your business processes more efficient. This especially true with ERP-integrated B2B e-commerce

See below for a visualization of our customers’ cost-savings today: 

Bonus: get a comprehensive overview on how integrated B2B e-commerce can lower your TCO here.

Benefit 4: Get Customer Feedback

A great online buying experience keeps your clients coming back for more, and it might even help drive sales. After all, what would you trust more: promotional text from a manufacturer or wholesaler, or a positive review from another buyer?

By offering an exceptional B2B web store, you can turn your clients into evangelists. By simply leaving a review, clients sharing their enthusiasm can have an incredible effect on your business, with reviews typically producing a notable uplift in sales.

Benefit 5: Reach New Markets

We already mentioned that a B2B web store can help you reach more clients. And those clients don’t necessarily have to be in your existing markets.

Because your online sales portal won’t rely on the availability of your sales team, your digital sales channel can be available 24/7, 365 days a year. By eliminating the challenge that time differences often pose in the order process, B2B e-commerce makes it easier than ever to serve a wider international market.

Benefit 6: Achieve Data-Centricity with ERP-Integrated B2B E-Commerce

Powerful B2B e-commerce software lets you streamline and automate plenty of processes, and it can also grant unique insight into the data that matters to your sales and marketing operations – especially if you integrate your B2B e-commerce platform with your ERP system.

(Visualize how that works here).

If you have an integrated e-commerce setup, your ERP can calculate detailed sales statistics for each of your clients. Order totals, revenue, profit percentages, or even discounts within a specific time period. With so much data available, there’s no need for vague estimates.

Dive Deeper: Benefits of Integrated B2B E-Commerce

Want even more statistics about the benefits of B2B e-commerce? Now that you’ve got the basics covered, dive deeper into the benefits of a B2B e-commerce experience that’s also integrated with your ERP. This includes jumps in revenue and average order value, improvements in process efficiency, and more.

Check out the findings of our latest customer research from our Benefits of Integrated B2B E-Commerce factsheet.

B2B Buyer Behavior Explained: Online, Offline or Omnichannel?

Our latest research tells us that when it comes to B2B buyer behavior, e-commerce is buyers’ preferred avenue for completing purchases. But the purchasing process today has its hurdles — and these hiccups are forcing buyers to look offline for help.

New Data: An Overview of B2B Buyer Behavior in 2019

We recently commissioned a research report analyzing the B2B buyer behavior, preferences, and challenges of 560 global B2B organizations that are (or that purchase from) wholesalers, manufacturers or distributors.

Here are some insights from that report:

Today, despite a long-standing inclination toward phone orders and email orders (to avoid data entry errors and purchasing challenges), B2B buyers in 2019 are leaning toward e-commerce —even over historically preferred sales channels.

For 71% of buyers today, online is the most used channel for placing orders. But this doesn’t mean B2B e-commerce experiences are overwhelmingly stellar:

While 30% of buyers would prefer to buy 90% or all of their products online, only 19% are currently doing so. (If you’re wondering why, it’s because they can’t do so easily).

One-quarter of B2B buyers want easier and faster checkout, easier repeat ordering, quicker delivery, and better tracking online than is available to them now.

What this tells us is that B2B buyers are likely turning to online channels for a baseline level of convenience, rather than turning to e-commerce because the experiences themselves are up to par with their expectations. This also means they’re often looking offline for answers.

Online vs. Offline: How Purchase Journey Roadblocks Impact Buyers’ Channel Choices

Ultimately, the core of B2B buyers’ challenges is centered on the buyer journey — and more specifically, the friction and hurdles caused by poor experiences throughout the journey. For the purposes of this blog, we will refer to the following four stages of the buyer journey:

  • Problem identification
  • Information search
  • Evaluation of alternatives
  • Purchase decision

In our latest research, found that based solely on a lack of information available online, buyers are forced to pursue offline help from a sales representative at every single stage of the journey.

Here’s what the data says about B2B buyer behavior along the path-to-purchase:

It should be easy to see that if you add up those percentages, you’re looking at a whopping 98% of respondents who reported encountering this challenge at some point during the path toward an online purchase.

Later, once buyers are completing a purchase (or at least trying to), the challenges continue. As many as 58% of B2B buyers surveyed indicated that they encounter order errors online monthly, bi-monthly, weekly, and even daily:

In turn, we’re seeing omnichannel B2B buyer behavior happening as a result of insufficient experiences both online and offline — rather than as a choice based on preference. B2B organizations should strive to improve experiences across all channels, so that buyers are free to engage and purchase via their avenue of choice, and not just be boxed into the least frustrating option.

Fortunately, there’s a solution to these cross-channel customer experience challenges (and others). And it starts with your ERP.

ERP-Integrated E-Commerce: Addressing B2B Buyer’s Top Hurdles

When talking about ERP systems, B2B businesses often overlook the potential of ERP e-commerce. If your business is among them, we’ve got news for you:

Your ERP system is not just a hub for your business logic and data; it can also solve some of the B2B buyer challenges we’ve already outlined, drive a more customer-centric e-commerce experience, and help meet B2B organizations’ key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals:

1. Cost Savings:

E-commerce, even in its most basic and rudimentary form, addresses the cost-savings issue simply by eliminating the time and resources needed to take and manually enter offline sales orders. With ERP-integrated e-commerce, cost savings can be realized even further thanks to further minimized time and effort required to manage and synchronize web store data.

2. Efficiency of the Purchase Process:

If the major challenges during the B2B purchase process revolve around data availability and order errors, then ERP integration is a clear answer. By leveraging your Dynamics or SAP ERP with Sana, you can pull real-time ERP data (like inventory information and product data) into your web store to keep your customers fully informed 24/7. This rich product data can also significantly minimize order errors, such as those caused by incorrect product, inventory, or account data entry.

3. Client Satisfaction:

There will always be a margin for error when it comes to online purchasing, and it’s likely you’ll not be able to provide all the information online that every single customer may need online. This is why — in addition to mitigating current e-commerce challenges as best as you can — it’s also important to focus on an effective omnichannel strategy. By doing so, you can not only minimize the extent to which customers are forced offline due to online challenges, but also provide a smooth and seamless experience for those customers who do switch between online and offline channels by choice.

More Insights: B2B Buyer Behavior, Challenges and Trends

Want to learn (even more) about how you can meet B2B buyers’ unmet demands? Download our newest research report for the latest B2B buyer behavior data and insights.

2020 Predictions

Whether walking down the sidewalk, through the house or moving your business forward, you need to look forward!  Have you ever tried walking forward with a blindfold on? Ever tried walking backward? Difficult isn’t it?

Of course it is! We are designed to look forward! Well, we at Modern ERP had a lot of fun gamestorming (game theory/brainstorming) the year 2020! This short video outlines what we see 2020 bringing businesses and the accounting and finance teams in 2020! It promises to be a game-changing year! Click the YouTube video below for more information or follow this link to our partner ERP Software Blog for the full text!

Enjoy!

ERP SoftwareBlog

“You had me at hello” is a blog post I wrote this week on ERP SoftwareBlog. In case you cannot tell, I like to have fun with my writing and as such, you may find some funny analogies, humor and wit… or at least you will see the effort! We are going to continue having fun in telling the Modern ERP story! As the Chief Fun Officer (not a real title but should be) – I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

What do you think is fun in your job? Post and share because, Hey, it’s Friday!!!

ERP, CRM and my Enterprise perspective

A subtle question I get frequently is “What is ERP”? Along that same line, I get the question about CRM (aka Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE) and how it fits into an ERP solution. So, let’s throw it out there: CRM IS ERP! Yes, I said it!

In a recent conversation with a CRM specialist, I brought this up and the sigh of relief was palpable! It took a moment and the CRM specialist said “wow, you are preaching to the choir!”.

How did we get to the point where we think CRM is something different? Well, it began during a time when CRM solutions were made whole-cloth from other publishers like Siebel and Saleslogix and ERP was made whole-cloth from Oracle, SAP and others. Remember the JBOPS? For those too young to know JBOPS was JD Edwards, Baan, Oracle, Peoplesoft and SAP. Fun history, huh?

This changed with integration promises from Microsoft when they released Dynamics CRM and had four on premise ERP solutions to choose from (AX, NAV, GP and SL). These promises were real and we really did do some CRM integrations but they were always very complex and frankly, never fully delivered the bottom-line promise: an Integrated Enterprise Resource Planning solution from Sales through Financials.

Today’s environment is different, though. With a single source provider of solutions, integrated CRM and ERP is real. Well, real enough. There are some challenges ahead and here they are.

First: Does Dynamics 365 Business Central have a CRM System? The answer is yes, to a degree. It depends upon how you are looking at CRM and what you want to do. If it is contact management around customers and accounts, yes. Opportunities, yes. Some opportunity management, yes. However, is it Dynamics CRM/CE? No.

Second: Can you integrate Dynamics CRM to Business Central. The answer there is yes. You will want to outline exactly what the integration flow is and how to interact between the accounting system and CRM. For example, who “owns” the record: sales or accounting? What can a CRM user update? Therefore, there a considerations that are needed to make it fully integrated for you.

Third, there is a common data model / common data service. There is some functionality that is not yet fully online but the foundation is there for a better, more integrative approach going forward. Does this mean it works without concern today? No but with the proper technical and business guidance there can be a better future out there.

If you are curious about how this can apply to you, let us know by booking a free discovery call at our BookTime™ page.

OnPremise Challenges

Whether your ERP (Dynamics SL, GP, NAV or AX) or CRM (Dynamics CE) is on premise or in a data center, there are more manageable ways to move your business forward. Sometimes that server is literally in a closet, down the hall. Sometimes it is hosted in a private and costly “COLO” colocation or traditional private cloud data center. These are just two examples of the pressures felt by business today. The problems magnify when you combine this with the operating models needed to be successful in the future.

If this is you, we can begin your journey here with the Modern Self Assessment

Once you finish the Modern Self Assessment, book some time with us with our BookTime™

Digital Disruption

Digital Disruption is ubiquitous in today’s business environment. Business is being tasked with getting as close as possible to their customers and that is where we can offer you Digital Transformation Consulting Services.  Across your enterprise, each of your chief officers have different concerns and demands.  Therefore, we are able to bring all facets of the organizations abilities together to achieve maximum leverage from you IT Solutions.

If this is you, we can begin your journey here with the Modern Self Assessment™!

Once you finish the Modern Self Assessment, book some time with us with our BookTime™ Page!

Compare and Contrast – Dynamics SL and Dynamics 365

Dynamics SL and Dynamics 365… What is the change? 

Why is this an improvement?

Foundation — foundationally, Dynamics SL is an older technology utilizing Microsoft SQL Server databases, Windows Client Technology, written in VB.net and utilizing kernel technology written in C++.  Some of this technology was written when you (the reader) were just a child!

New Foundation — Dynamics 365 is built upon Microsoft Dynamics NAV in the Microsoft Azure Cloud.  This foundational change builds upon the decades of legacy Dynamics NAV functionality and wins with Web Client technology as a robust user interface. Unlike Dynamics SL, the technology has evolved and kept up with the technology demands of the market.

Management and Maintainability — unlike putting Dynamics SL in a hosted environment, Dynamics 365 is built in a fully managed Azure instance which means that you never worry about backups, business continuity or downtime.

Functional Differences — Naturally, there are differences in the application such as:

  • Role based functionality tied to security — although available in Dynamics SL, this has never been implemented quite functionally for customers. In Dynamics 365, this is inherent within the solution, out of the box. However, for the NAV sophisticates out there, you can switch to the non-role based environments!
  • Chart of Accounts — come across as Chart of Accounts in Dynamics 365
  • SubAccts become Dimensions which augments the functionality you are currently used to in Dynamics SL.  Further, Dimensions can be used significantly more in PowerBI and Microsoft Flow.
  • Master Data (Vendors, Customers, Items, Projects, etc.) these become the same basic structures in Dynamics 365.
  • Reporting — no more Management Reporter! The Modern Solutions are to utilize Account Schedules in Dynamics 365 and also leverage Jet Reports (from Jet Global) or PowerBI for reporting and analytics. PowerBI is integrated throughout.
  • Data Migration — out of the gate, we have proven tools and methodologies to bring across Master Data and Open Balances. We continue to build out more sophisticated data models to provide you with a solution that when leveraging Microsoft’s PowerBI, Artificial Intelligence and Flow, you can more fully take advantage of the data.
  • Services — this is where it gets real exciting. Consider that your migration from SL to Dynamics 365 will not be the same kind of engagement you have experienced in the past. Our service model is to provide you with remote expertise which allows us to leverage the best talent without geography being a barrier.
  • Support — continuing to support you is key and Modern ERP is here with 24/7 support coverage, escalated case management and continuous improvement solutions.

Compare and Contrast – Dynamics GP and Dynamics 365

Dynamics GP and Dynamics 365… What is the change?

Why is this an improvement?

Foundation — foundationally, Dynamics GP is an older technology utilizing Microsoft SQL Server databases, Windows Client Technology, written in Dexterity and utilizing technology written many years ago. Some of this technology was written when you (the reader) were just a child!

New Foundation — Dynamics 365 is built upon Microsoft Dynamics NAV in the Microsoft Azure Cloud with a Modern User Interface. This foundational change builds upon the decades of legacy Dynamics NAV functionality and wins with Web Client technology as a robust user interface. Unlike Dynamics GP, the technology has evolved and kept up with the technology demands of the market.

Management and Maintainability — unlike putting Dynamics GP in a hosted environment, Dynamics 365 is built in a fully managed Azure instance which means that you never worry about backups, business continuity or downtime.

Functional Differences — Naturally, there are differences in the application such as:

  • Role based functionality tied to security — although available in Dynamics GP, this has never been implemented quite functionally for customers. In Dynamics 365, this is inherent within the solution, out of the box. However, for the NAV sophisticates out there, you can switch to the non-role based environments!
  • Chart of Accounts — come across as Chart of Accounts in Dynamics 365
  • Segmentation becomes Dimensions which augments the functionality you are currently used to in Dynamics GP. Further, Dimensions can be used significantly more in PowerBI and Microsoft Flow.
  • Master Data (Vendors, Customers, Items, etc.) these become the same basic structures in Dynamics 365.
  • Reporting — no more Management Reporter! The Modern Solutions are to utilize Account Schedules in Dynamics 365 and also leverage Jet Reports (from Jet Global) or PowerBI for reporting and analytics. PowerBI is integrated throughout.
  • Data Migration — out of the gate, we have proven tools and methodologies to bring across Master Data and Open Balances. We continue to build out more sophisticated data models to provide you with a solution that when leveraging Microsoft’s PowerBI, Artificial Intelligence and Flow, you can more fully take advantage of the data.
  • Services — this is where it gets real exciting. Consider that your migration from GP to Dynamics 365 will not be the same kind of engagement you have experienced in the past. Our service model is to provide you with remote expertise which allows us to leverage the best talent without geography being a barrier.
  • Support — continuing to support you is key and Modern ERP is here with 24/7 support coverage, escalated case management and continuous improvement solutions.

You can use our BookTime™ online feature to work with our consulting team to provide you with a follow up to the Modern Self Assessment™ or any number of other services. With our online booking, you can choose from any available dates, times and services offered. Our pricing is transparent, flexible and easy to understand. We will confirm your booking automatically and provide you with a Microsoft Teams Meeting Room.

Getting Closer to your Customers… more Field Stories

Continuing our previous blog post “Digital Transformation for the C-Suite“, we now turn our focus to another Field Story: a printer company. This company sells high-end, custom printers with the accompanying high-end inks and consumables. They are on an old version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV and have determined that the cost to upgrade is astronomical.  The cost of these solutions is not just the cost of the upgrade (labor in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) but is also the cost of the IT infrastructure, IT Management, Security, Compliance, GDPR, and this list goes on.

I entered into a management consulting arrangement with them to define a path-forward that includes Dynamics 365 Business Central as a SaaS solution (in the multi-tenant Microsoft Azure Cloud). Moving customer to the cloud is something I have done since 2010 and so this engagement only has a few wrinkles, such as deprecating customizations and reports as well as mapping ISV functionality to the future state.

That part was fairly routine. The usual questions around security, uptime, redundancy, compliance and features came into play. The digital transformation conversation was the most exciting. This company sells to dealers and therefore, their customers (who use their printers) were not readily known to the business.  Enter Dynamics 365 Business Central + CRM functionality. With the Common Data Service, yes your ERP and CRM systems can talk to each other without the special need for integrations.

The result is a system where the customers are known to the business, while maintaining the relationships with the dealers and ecosystem. This ends up being the “cake and eat it too” option for the business where they break down silos of information and provide their end customers with support, returns, quality and experience leadership.