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The Top Post-Covid eCommerce Challenges Facing B2B Businesses

It has been a challenging year for B2B eCommerce, but also a year of opportunities. Learn how B2B suppliers overcome COVID-19 challenges to emerge stronger in 2021.

Virus_sm.jpgWe can tell two stories about COVID-19’s impact on B2B eCommerce. The first is a story of disrupted supply chains, staff shortages, and plummeting demand. The second story is happier; B2B eCommerce flourishes as buyers move from traditional sales to remote self-serve options, demand in some sectors increases rapidly, and B2B suppliers that offer eCommerce with eProcurement integrations such as PunchOut catalogs adapt quickly to evolving buyer expectations.

The true story is somewhere in between. Many B2B businesses have faced enormous challenges over the past year, but many have leveraged technology and new business models to overcome them. In this article, we’ll look at some of those challenges and how B2B businesses that sell via eCommerce have adapted to the new environment. 

What Are The Biggest Post-Covid eCommerce Challenges Facing B2B Businesses?

B2B businesses had a turbulent 2020 as they scrambled to cope with rapid market changes. In 2021 we’ll see which of those changes are here to stay. 

Lack of an eCommerce Option

Some B2B sectors have been slow to adopt eCommerce—manufacturing is just one example. However, recent studies have shown that over 90 percent of B2B decision-makers prefer remote digital purchasing options. Businesses that have already embraced eCommerce have a head-start. 

Substandard eCommerce Experiences

For some B2B businesses, eCommerce was not their primary sales channel so, although they have an eCommerce store, they have made little effort to modernize, optimize the user experience, or market their digital sales platform. 

Requests for Integration and Automation

eCommerce is only the first step towards providing a fully digital end-to-end procurement experience. Buyers increasingly expect supplier’s to offer eProcurement and ERP integration to enable automation features such as PunchOut catalogs, purchase order automation, and invoicing. But it is challenging to offer universal integration when buyers use many different and incompatible software platforms to manage procurement. 

How Businesses Are Overcoming B2B Challenges with eCommerce

Although the growing preference for B2B eCommerce presents challenges, they can be overcome. B2B eCommerce technology has improved enormously in recent years, and suppliers have many choices beyond inelegant “enterprise” solutions and poorly adapted consumer eCommerce applications. 

Embrace Modern B2B eCommerce 

BigCommerce, Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud, and Elastic Path are just a few of the many modern, B2B-focused platforms that are capable of supporting the complex requirements of B2B buyers, while providing a user experience on par with consumer eCommerce.

Invest in eCommerce

If your business previously regarded eCommerce as a secondary sales channel, now is the time to ramp up investment. Businesses who invest in their digital sales solutions today will be better positioned to deal with the “new normal” as it becomes the accepted way of doing business in 2021 and beyond. 

Automation Isn’t the Challenge It Once Was

B2B suppliers have historically been reluctant to offer PunchOut catalogs and other integration features. There are hundreds of possible eProcurement and ERP systems a buyer might be using, each with its own protocols, data formats, and APIs. Custom integration projects are expensive, complex, and time-consuming, so it was only manageable for the biggest buyers. 

However, integration and automation have become a top priority for buyers, and suppliers will have to accommodate them. Fortunately, integration solutions substantially reduce the cost and complexity of automation. PunchOut2Go’s Integration Platform as a Service can connect any eProcurement system to any eCommerce store to enable PunchOut catalogs, purchase order automation, eInvoicing, and more. 

Last year’s challenges will continue into 2021 and beyond, but with a commitment to eCommerce and investment in modern eCommerce technologies, B2B suppliers can meet buyer demand for self-service digital procurement, attracting new business and building stronger relationships for the future. If you’d like to learn more about how PunchOut2Go enables automation of procurement processes for B2B buyers and sellers, you can fill out the form below and our team will be in touch shortly.

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