B2B Digital Transformation: Part 1 – The Challenges and Opportunities of B2B eCommerce

Group of people in an office. Team meeting to determine b2b business goals for digital transformation project

eCommerce is an absolute must for B2B businesses today. So, if you’re thinking about or already planning digital transformation for 2023, you’re going to want to follow this new 5-part series in collaboration with our partner DigiCommerce. We’ll do a deep dive into the key points to be aware of when beginning your digital transformation journey starting with the common challenges that drive the decision to invest in eCommerce along with best practices and an actionable plan for getting started.

Why Digital Transformation for B2B eCommerce?

It’s a new year and a great time to get started with an eCommerce migration project that’s been due for awhile. The entire company is on board, right? Marketing is ready to get going, the sales team is imagining new leads and customer opportunities and the IT team is eager to hand off any website responsibilities to a new vendor.

But wait…does everyone have the same goals for the new project and agree on the same business pain points?

With so many resources required – time, investment, and business interruption – along with many other barriers that companies face, why is digital transformation so crucial? Let’s take a look at the reasons why you’ll want to get started in the first place and how to use these to create an actionable plan for moving forward.

Where are the major pain points that B2B businesses are challenged with on their current commerce platforms and initiatives?

Product Catalog & Selling

“We can’t do what we want!” is the phrase that sums up the challenges B2B companies face with existing platform services.

Inability to sell the entire product catalog

Whether the product catalog is small or extends into thousands of items, making compromises to only support a limited number of products means that your customers aren’t likely to always find what they want on the digital storefront.

Service contracts, licenses, accessories, product bundles, sets, and other combinations that fall slightly outside the norm are the easiest pieces to leave behind on a past site launch, but there are other likely gaps as well. Have the latest products and brands been included with site updates? Frequently, once a company moves past an initial honeymoon period with a new site, the ongoing process or workflow to update and maintain its product catalog data falls by the wayside and the catalog grows stale quickly.

Configuration Challenges

Does your entire catalog get sold the same way? Probably not. Between the complex requirements that some products have, such as customized shipping methods, pricing configuration, or even a unique order workflow, it’s an easy escape to simply not include those items on the storefront. When it’s impossible (or expensive) to find a solution that works for your business requirements, you’re likely to avoid it altogether leaving valuable opportunities on the table.

Product Data

Efficient product selling, improving conversion rates and managing the catalog with an optimized product data management process are often missing altogether. A haphazard approach to acquiring, cleaning, optimizing and then updating or creating new products can hold back the selling simply due to the resources required to run the process.

Overall, improved product data import and processing from vendors is essential for optimizing eCommerce conversion rates. By automating the importing and exporting process, ensuring accuracy and up-to-date information, reducing manual errors and speeding up product listing creation.


Effective eCommerce incorporates data and services from an assortment of technologies throughout the business. Without the flexibility of a reliable commerce engine, more effort and management is required to make eCommerce work within a business.

eCommerce Storefront to Back-Office Integration

An incomplete or unreliable integration between the eCommerce storefront and sales channels with backend systems will make it difficult for businesses to stay up to date with orders, inventory, and customer information. Without proper integration, businesses may struggle to provide customers with accurate delivery timelines, reliable product availability, and accurate shipment tracking.

Additionally, integrating the eCommerce storefront with the backoffice can be incredibly time-consuming and costly. B2B companies may be suffering from a lack of scalability, data entry issues or data access.

Data Access

We cringe a little anytime we hear someone describe the process of being forced to export data out of an eCommerce platform and import into third party systems – whether it’s customer accounts, orders history or other data systems.

Without access to data, it is difficult to capitalize on sales opportunities. This can result in missed profits and reduced customer loyalty.

Integration Breakdown

Poor integrations harm the customer experience across the entire workflow – from order creating, fulfillment and follow up. Integrations that don’t work correctly can cause delays in order fulfillment, lead to inaccurate order tracking, and disrupt the customer’s experience with the product and brand. Without such integrations, customers can become frustrated and confused, and ultimately may choose to take their business elsewhere before placing that second order.

Businesses that are missing integrations are connected in real-time, properly tested and working as expected to avoid damaging the customer experience. This includes ensuring that all data is transferred securely, accurately and quickly between different systems, as well as regularly monitoring the performance of the integration.

Customer Experience

Meeting customer expectations and delivering a consistent buying experience is a challenge.

Prioritizing Customer Experience

While the process of purchasing may be different from a B2C perspective, your customers want the convenience, transparency, and personalization that they get offline. Interacting with a storefront that’s easy to search, shop and use for post-order follow-up is no longer optional – it’s expected. According to Forrester, about 66% of churn or exit traffic is related to frustration around product search experience. With large complex catalogs, complicated configurations and technical data points, it’s not a surprise to see such high numbers.

Real-Time Information Delivery

With a solid, comprehensive and reliable integration, requirements for B2B eCommerce real-time data include the ability to access customer and product data in real-time, the ability to track and monitor inventory levels, and the ability to deliver orders quickly.

Customer Shopping Preferences

Customers want a secure, fast checkout process that allows them to purchase in bulk using multiple payment options. Also multi-language and multi-currency options are key options to include on your store front.

B2B eCommerce customers prefer a shopping experience that is tailored to their specific needs and preferences. They are looking for an easy-to-use platform that offers a wide range of product and service options, with shopping capabilities including robust search, the ability to sort and filter quickly and create saved product lists.

Wrapping Up

Chances are that one more than one of the common B2B eCommerce pain points hits home for your business. While you may find yourself nodding along, it’s important that your company and internal team can agree on the pain points that necessitate a migration project to a new platform.

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