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HCLSoftware: Fueling the Digital+ Economy

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This executive conversation by Digital Commerce 360 with John Beechen, Product Manager, HCL Commerce first appeared in the Digital Commerce 360 B2B E-commerce Quarterly Market Report, Q3, 2022.Download the full report here.

Creating B2C-like online shopping experiences in B2B

B2B buyers today want a B2C-like online shopping experience. As e-commerce technology has evolved, B2B companies now have more options to offer convenient online shopping options to their customers. But some companies still believe their business is too complex to support easy e-commerce transactions — and they’re at risk of getting passed up by their more forward-thinking competitors. To discuss how the combination of strategy and technology will help B2B companies delight customers with more B2C-like shopping experiences, Digital Commerce 360 B2B spoke with John Beechen, product manager at HCL Commerce.

What are the biggest e-commerce challenges B2B companies face?

B2B companies often don’t have a strong relationship with their customer because they’ve sold through channels outside of their control. Coupled with the death of the third-party cookie, companies need new ways to better understand how their customer wants to buy and the channels they want to buy through — so that they can personalize the experience. This creates complexity.

The other challenge is the investments companies made in their marketing solutions, has resulted in data about customer behavior locked up in silos. To deliver a personalized experience, B2B companies need modern solutions to unlock and serve up the right information and data from those silos in real-time.

What do the most successful B2B companies’ e-commerce strategies look like?

B2B companies create the most successful e-commerce strategies only after they conduct a full evaluation of their entire sales process and touchpoints with their customers to understand any friction points. If a company launches an e-commerce site but has no idea who their customers are or how they want to buy, their customers will not use their online store. It’s a waste of time and money.

What technologies are critical to B2B ecommerce success?

B2B e-commerce is just one component of a successful B2B engagement solution. A B2B portal — where customers can log in to get invoices, order history, product literature and more — is a key component. In this portal, to make life easier, the customer should only see the products they are entitled to purchase and their specific contracted price. The buying experience should also provide the customer with options for their preferred method of payment.

B2B companies also need technologies to drive market awareness and encourage deeper engagement through curated experiences. This comes from experiential data, which needs to capture and analyze customer behaviors throughout the entire relationship — differentiating between company-specific data and buyer-specific data.

Another capability that makes it easier for customers is punchout, which allows a buyer to buy from within their own procurement platform, punching out the order to the e-commerce solution. Cloud-native architecture, intelligent search capabilities, inventory visibility, and analytics tools are also important technologies in a successful B2B e-commerce platform.

How can B2B companies get started with their e-commerce initiatives?

They can partner with a technology provider like HCL. We look at a company’s entire sales process and help them understand how they want to compete. Then we usurp their competition by doing something new and unique using technology. HCL’s CX Studio is a free advisory team within HCL Software that helps companies develop their customer experience-related strategies and priorities, based on the company’s business priorities and desired outcomes.

Download the full report here.

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