Single-stack e-commerce isn’t just the latest buzzword in online sales – we believe it’s the future of e-commerce. In this blog, we’ll explain exactly what single-stack e-commerce is. But first, let’s take a closer look at why it is such an important factor for a web store’s success.
The Key to Omnichannel
A single-stack approach to e-commerce is vital, because it’s the only sure way to deliver a great omnichannel experience. And omnichannel is the new normal. But what is omnichannel exactly?
Omnichannel sales are about providing a more transparent and integrated process. This is achieved by seamlessly connecting several sales channels to provide a high-quality customer experience. With omnichannel, it doesn’t matter how clients place orders: they receive the same service. They can place an order in a web store, ask the company about the order status through social media, and pick their order up at a brick-and-mortar.
The emergence of this kind of experience threatens traditional businesses, as it means that they have to put in a lot more effort to keep clients happy. Clients who expect to be able to communicate and do business with companies through a variety of channels – and switch between channels without having to rekey information. Achieving customer satisfaction through meeting these demands is the primary driver for omnichannel initiatives.
Professional Buyers Want E-Commerce
It’s not just consumers who are becoming more demanding when it comes to customer experience: professional buyers’ expectations are also growing.
For instance, B2B buyers experience the convenience of online B2C purchases when they order items for themselves. They expect the same experience in their professional buying as well, as a result of the digital transformation. B2B buyers are adopting e-commerce options because they prefer to do research on their purchase on their own, and they find online shopping more convenient because it’s global, personalized, and accessible around the clock.
Many mid-market B2B sellers are anticipating this trend and setting up web stores. Research conducted by Forrester showed that 39% of B2B sellers were choosing or planning to choose an e-commerce partner within a year, and 97% of respondents will adopt an e-commerce partner within 3 years.
And the main reason for this trend? Improving customer engagement, which is essential for repeat conversions. Forrester even believes that B2B companies not active in e-commerce risk losing market share to their digital-forward competitors.
Leveraging Your Business Data
The importance of e-commerce is clear. But to fully benefit from an online sales channel, companies need a set of technologies capable of meeting clients’ expectations, such as a seamless omnichannel experience. But how can companies achieve this?
On one hand, you need to be close to your client. You need to know everything about them to guide and personalize their purchasing process and create the best possible customer experience. Particularly in the B2B market, where long-term relationships are of paramount importance. On the other hand, high-quality back-end processes should facilitate your order and inventory management, billing, and fulfillment. If these processes aren’t in perfect order, it simply won’t be possible to deliver a great customer experience.
Lots of data is needed to personalize the purchasing process. The kind of data that’s stored in an ERP system: pricing, order management, and product information, for instance. Integrating a web store with an ERP system ensures a real-time link between the customer and the back-end processes, making it possible to quickly and seamlessly switch channels.
And it’s this integration between the web store and ERP that is also known as single-stack e-commerce.
The Definition of Single-Stack E-Commerce
Single-stack e-commerce truly leverages the business information stored in your ERP – and, more importantly, the business logic. This results not only in a faster implementation, it also ensures lower operational costs. Why? Because all your business data and logic is stored in just one place: your ERP.
Businesses prefer a single system that works perfectly, instead of a complex web of interconnected systems. Forrester and Accenture recognize the fact that the customer experience is at the heart of an era of digitization. BCG researchers acknowledge that a simplified and clean IT landscape fosters the digital transformation.
In other words: single-stack e-commerce improves your customer experience, but also tackles complexities in your business.
Still Not Convinced About Single-Stack E-Commerce?
Forrester estimates that B2B e-commerce in the U.S. will see 45% growth from 2015 to $1.13 trillion in 2020. With this in mind, who wouldn’t invest in an e-commerce platform? And who wouldn’t want that platform to be future proof?
Unsurprisingly, the single-stack e-commerce trend has already been picked up by many mid-market business sellers. 62% of B2B sellers are planning to implement single-stack e-commerce in their business activities. Reasons for this include:
- Ease of maintenance
- More agility
- Streamlined operations
- Real-time inventory visibility
- Enabling buyers to manage their accounts online
- Accurate inventory management
Moreover, businesses that adopted a unified solution are 19% more likely to say that improvements in upselling and cross-selling are caused by integrated e-commerce, and 14% are more likely to say that the unified solution improved their profitability per client. Forrester concludes that companies should consider the efficiencies of single-stack approaches to experience more benefits, as the 21% of surveyed B2B sellers already do.
The Benefits of Integration
Here at Sana, we have been aware of the benefits of a single-stack approach to e-commerce for years. In fact, it’s the foundation of our e-commerce platform, originally released in 2008. We have listed 42 benefits of a real-time integration between your web store and your ERP system. Curious? Download the Integration Guide here.
1. Forrester Consulting (2016) Tomorrow’s Midmarket B2B eCommerce Will Take Place in the Cloud