Why make B2B e-commerce with ERP integration your next strategic investment?
When it comes to how and where to allot their budget, many B2B businesses struggle to strike the right balance of spend to maximize their ROI. Particularly now that B2B organizations (and their supply chains) have been rocked by COVID-19’s disruption, organizations looking toward 2022 are wondering:
- Do we spend more on resources?
- On technology and infrastructure?
- On marketing?
- On sales enablement?
- Or do we spend less in the event of an extended pandemic recovery period?
It may be true that “because everyone else is doing it” isn’t a compelling reason to do most things. But taking a look at what B2B leaders are spending their budget on (and what market analysts project that spend will look like in the coming years) would behoove any organization that hopes to become more agile, streamlined, and resilient.
For many of them, B2B e-commerce with ERP integration is their best-kept secret, and the key to running a scalable and future-ready business. Here’s why:
1. Unified, integrated approaches to e-commerce have been profitable and key to business enablement for years
As early as 2016, Forrester has been vocal about the benefits of ERP-integrated e-commerce – or, as they once called it, single-stack e-commerce. Back then, one-fifth of B2B vendors were using integrated solutions. Among the others (those running standalone e-commerce software at the time), 40% were manually and painstakingly retrofitting back-end integration into the solution. It should be noted that many today still are.
Aside from not having to deal with manual integration processes, what were the perks of being among the businesses with unified or “single-stack” e-commerce approach a few years ago? Firstly and importantly, these organizations had positioned themselves at the forefront of an innovative, new-and-improved way of doing e-commerce.
But in addition, businesses investing in integrated e-commerce solutions (compared to those with standalone e-commerce software):
- 63% felt that unified or single-stack e-commerce made it easier to maintain their systems
- 60% felt that it gave them greater agility
- 57% said it streamlined their business operations
- 51% enjoyed the centralized source of real time data
- 43% appreciated that the system was integrated and operational out of the box
- And 25% appreciated the fact that they didn’t have to hire specialized IT staff and could —instead— focus on key business priorities.
And fortunately, these benefits of an ERP-integrated e-commerce solution have not just stood the test of time; the list has even grown.
Organizations running integrated e-commerce solutions are also 19% more likely to attribute both improved cross-sell/upsell opportunities and improved profitability per customer to e-commerce compared to those running standalone e-commerce software (Forrester).
So, what does the landscape for B2B e-commerce with ERP integration look like now?
2. Business agility and future-readiness beyond 2021 depend on systems integration
E-commerce is a vital tool for any business marrying online and offline channels to reach new frontiers of success. Today, e-commerce is the top B2B channel helping companies achieve their overall priorities.
For 40% of B2B businesses, e-commerce is also key to improving customer retention, competitive positioning, sales productivity, and revenue growth. But what happens when you pair e-commerce and ERP together?
Your business isn’t just more efficient; it’s centralized around a modern, streamlined e-commerce solution that can propel your business into the future, and towards successful digital transformation.
In 2020, Forrester reiterated the importance of e-commerce with ERP integration, noting that “as monolithic technology becomes outdated and less effective, the providers that lead the pack demonstrate deep, prebuilt integrations and strong business user tooling.”
E-commerce partners, like Sana Commerce, that take this approach will play a role of particular importance moving forward, as currently 52% of B2B businesses feel that a lack of integration with existing and legacy technologies is the biggest challenge deterring them from being B2B digital leaders.
3. ERP e-commerce integration will be a key growth driver by 2024
By the end of 2021, online B2B sales will make up 13% of total B2B revenue in the U.S. In two years, by 2023, its share will grow to 17% — reaching $1.8T.
And it makes sense, of course, that systems integration with e-commerce, over time, will only become more critical as online sales drive larger shares of organizations’ overall revenue.
Recent data from Gartner tells us that this certainly is the case:
- Over 40% of B2B businesses consider systems integration to be a top strategic investment for their organization.
- Analysts predict that number will jump to 65% in 2024 — with integration between tools like ERP and e-commerce being the main driver of growth.
If you’re now considering your own next strategic investment, but are concerned about potential challenges, below are some factors to keep in mind.
B2B’s digital transformation: Factors to watch
One factor to keep top-of-mind is the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how its hindering (or even driving) businesses’ digitization plans.
Despite uncertainty about the pandemic, for example, 75% of B2B organizations are continuing their digital transformation journey anyway, and as many as 65% are even accelerating their investments in digital initiatives. The message here is clear: even a time of uncertainty is no time to slow down.
The reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the urgency of digital transformation; as many as 56% of B2B organizations feel the major weakness the pandemic exposed was in their technology infrastructure. But B2B e-commerce with ERP integration may be the solution organizations need to accelerate growth, embrace digital transformation, and streamline and simplify operations in the process — both after and well beyond 2021.
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