Making Waves – eCommerce After COVID

Making Waves – eCommerce After COVID

“We are in the midst of a seismic shift in business and society.  Understanding platform strategy will be vital to grasp tomorrow’s economic model.”* –Aditya Basu, Strategy & Marketing – CEO Office.

As tectonic shifts sink continents and elevate swamps into mountains, the tsunamis unleashed leave those in their path with a single question: how will you survive?  Thus we are reminded of Andy Grove, the former chairman of Intel and author of “Only The Paranoid Survive”(1996), the subhead of his book being “How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company”. 

Grove is credited as the “Father of OKRs” by legendary investor John Doerr, but was also a mentor to Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz and many more.  Though “Objectives and Key Results” are worthy of their own article, “Strategic Inflection Points” (the theme of “Only the Paranoid Survive”) seems a more urgent read as the “return to the new normal” looms like a tidal wave eager to flood the COVID-wasteland that left businesses marooned and our cities desolate.

A Strategic Inflection Point is the moment in a company (or person’s) trajectory where they have the opportunity to weather a crisis and soar to new heights, like a phoenix reborn, OR plummet to new lows like an ostrich with its head in the sand.  These inflection points are often prompted by “10X forces”; a force that is outside the norm of what may even be considered possible.

Grove introduces the 10X force in the context of six forces known to affect businesses, originally introduced by Professor Michael Porter of Harvard.  The forces as paraphrased by Grove are: the power, vigor, and competence of 1) existing competitors, 2) potential competitors, 3) suppliers, 4) customers, 5) complementors (other businesses from whom customers buy complementary products; products that are used in tandem or required together — like cars and gasoline, or from an online merchant’s perspective: an eCommerce site-build and fulfillment services for the products to be shipped), 6) the possibility that your product or service can be built or delivered differently.  

A 10X force could be any of the normal forces, but an order of magnitude larger than what is expected.  Dramatic examples of before and after general “inflection points” might be: Commuting to work: by horse, then car, now computer.  Entertainment: by video rental, then mail, and now streaming.  Shopping: from retail to online.

As referenced by Aditya Basu, we see examples of 10X forces as evidenced in the McKinsey Digital Report 2020 (DigitalCommerce360): “We have seen a 10 year growth in a mere 90 days for US eCommerce penetration.  Online spending represented 18.6% of total retail sales for the first two quarters of 2020.” And in the BCG+ Deloitte Digital Report:  “Consumers spent $861.12 billion online with US retailers in 2020, up 44% from 598.02 billion in 2019.”

Basu also reveals that 66% percent of B2B leaders now believe eCommerce solutions are essential, up from 48% pre-COVID.  He emphasizes: “what may be most interesting is: the shift in numbers serves as a dramatic example of the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ of a 10X force.  When you consider ‘10 year growth in 90 days’ and ‘a $260+ billion dollar increase in sales’ you begin to get an idea of the sales velocity reached by business leaders that were able to steer into the storm and capture the 10X force. As for those who were blown off course, or completely knocked over — there may still be time to get it right, but you need to be decisive, and can accelerate your rebound by partnering with those who navigated the crisis early.”

Grove explains how 10X forces may sneak up in plain sight to capsize your business before you even realize what’s happening.  He also explains how to be nimble so you can be better prepared for the squalls, and not only come out on the other side, but far ahead of the beached wreckage and flotsam left behind.  Strategic Inflection Points are essentially the moments where the future is made. But since it’s hard to predict which way the wind blows, or whether a breeze will turn into a gale, it is often difficult to separate the signal from the noise when it comes to 10X forces.  Grove makes suggestions on questions to ask yourself in the context of competitors and complementors (Chapter 6 of “Only The Paranoid Survive”), as well as recommending the importance of looking to middle-management, and sales (from the ground to C-suite) to get a “barometer” on what storms may be brewing.  

“Grove’s 10X force on retailers is important from a competitive standpoint, but we often find that organizations are sometimes competing against themselves because they are not efficiently operating the three most important levers to ensure an excellent Customer Experience; those levers being Brand, Behavior, and Book of Record Experience.  Customers not only interact with your company’s Brand, revealing Behavioral insights, but also with Back Office operations.  Customer experience defines the digital economy and goes beyond creative design and content management.  All three experiences must be tied together to drive consumer engagement.” says Amanda Volz, Vice President of Sales at BORN Group.  She continues, “In today’s world customers expect retailers to provide them a seamless shopping experience that’s safe, efficient, but most of all omnichannel. In other words, retailers must be experts in ALL the ways their customers shop: online, mobile, brick and mortar, in order to keep up with the behavioral shift that COVID has forced on both retailers and customers.  Those who are able to accommodate all of these models have had the most success in navigating the last 18 months.

Basu offers further advice on how an eCommerce strategy is pivotal to making sure you do more than tread water: “In order to have the most leverage to seize short term opportunities and win new digital-first shoppers, you must conceptualize how to build and scale your eCommerce blueprint. You don’t need to get it perfect, but planning for contingencies, good and bad, makes it possible for you to at least be prepared for whatever comes next. Though it’s impossible to be ‘prepared’ for everything, you can set yourself up to handle challenges robustly, or even be in a position where every obstacle can become a step higher on the road to success.”

Basu continues: “Ultimately, the big question when dealing with inflection points, 10X forces, and planning ahead in general is: what to focus on? In life, as in business, weathering a storm is not just about navigating a crisis in realtime, but the preparations that make it possible for you to do so.  As the conditions of an actual storm, pandemic, or other crisis make it impossible to simulate and predict, the best you can focus on, in the now, is 1) to make sure everyone works together efficiently, that you have the people willing and able to rise to the occasion when one presents itself.  2) to make sure that all your “instruments” are in tip-top shape, and that your crew operates them expertly.  This might come in the form of certifications, cutting edge tech, best practices and data management.  3) have a compass to make sure your organization is always aligned onward and upward; at BORN we embrace the Stella Framework (as referenced by Amanda Volz above) which keeps the Customer Experience (CX) front and center.  While an individual’s customer’s experience may be unique, the sum total of all experiences combined represents the pulse of your company, and how it can stand up to unforeseen stresses.”

At BORN we’re like a racing yacht, crewed by seasoned and certified professionals with a love of the sport, helping you get where you need to go, fast and in style… we can turn on a dime, equipped with the best-in-class partner solutions like Arctic Fox for Salesforce, Bulldog for Adobe, Eagle for SAP, Bison for ShopifyPlus and more.  We also work with the sharpest partners in the world so we can always see beyond the cloud; through our sister agency Pininfarina we offer physical design.

“The retail experience must continue to evolve while focusing on the magic mix of the tangible and intangible. eCommerce and the online experience is a fundamental part of the equation in creating a strong and recognizable Brand personality in the market.” says Paolo Trevisan, Vice President of Design at Pininfarina of America. “While we continue pursuing our passion for timeless design solutions across various verticals including automotive design, transportation, industrial design, architecture and interiors, the synergy with BORN can allow for an experience-focused digital approach that will continue to push the boundaries of our human-centered approach.”

Wherever you are, and wherever you’re going,  BORN helps you capture a 10X force to fill your sail and ride the wave.

*”eMarketplaces: Unlocking The Value of Platform Economy” read Aditya Basu’s original article in its entirety here: (https://www.borngroup.com/views/emarketplaces-unlocking-the-value-of-platform-economy/

**”The Three Most Important Levers” … read about The Stella Framework here (https://www.borngroup.com/news/the-stella-framework-2/)

eMarketplaces: Unlocking The Value of Platform Economy

eMarketplaces: Unlocking The Value of Platform Economy

By: Aditya Basu

Unlocking & navigating the platform economy through a nuanced ecosystem strategy are en vogue these days, both in boardroom discussions and consumer preferences. Today, the world’s 6 most valuable companies by market capitalization and around 80% of the world’s unicorn startups operate a digital ecosystem that enables two-sided market dynamics and have gained enormous market share through network effects.

Platform businesses bring together producers, sellers, and consumers in high-value exchanges. Their chief assets are information and interactions, which together are also the source of the value they create and their competitive advantage. One of the classic examples of leveraging the platform economy through achieving critical mass & network effect is through the meteoric rise of Apple’s iPhones between 2007 – 2015. Though Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and LG collectively controlled 90% of the industry’s global profits in 2006, by 2015 the iPhone singlehandedly generated 92% of global profits by leveraging the power of platforms through a two-sided marketplace strategy.

McKinsey forecasted that 30% of all global economic activity, $60 trillion, will be mediated by platforms and ecosystems in 10 years’ time & Gartner says that “By 2023, at least 70% of the enterprise marketplaces launched will serve B2B transactions.” Yet, only 3% of established companies worldwide have adopted an active marketplace strategy. 

While the platform economy offers the most profitable & lucrative business model, online marketplaces are tough to build and achieve the “Critical Mass.” The classic chicken & egg conundrum, “To attain a critical mass of buyers, you need a critical mass of suppliers—but to attract suppliers, you need a lot of buyers.” 

We are in the midst of a seismic shift in business and society. Understanding platform strategy will be vital to grasp tomorrow’s economic models.

Evolution of Brand Economy: Omnichannel to Ecosystem Play

Today’s customers increasingly expect a seamless, integrated, consistent, and personalized experience with their service providers which current multi-channel models, with their multiple silos of customer contact, are unable to provide. A fully integrated response to these new customer requirements will need to be both customer-driven and omnichannel in nature. As we speak, large conglomerates are struggling with the “IF & HOW” to leverage digital platforms and ecosystem models for their industries. The key CXO challenge today is to create a core platform that can deliver incremental growth along with the new business & operating models around customers, partners & competitors.

Digital marketplaces have been the pulse of the consumer industry, yet many brands struggle to strike the correct chord. The shift in consumer behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digitization even further. However, the online marketplace model has persisted, driven by consumers seeking the convenience and broad assortment that marketplaces provide. In fact, online marketplaces now represent 58% of global web sales, totaling more than $2 trillion annually.

Broad Pivots of Marketplace Operations: Strategy to Execution

The typical marketplace model has millions of customers, multiple systems, and complex operations. Any brand trying to enter the marketplace will have to swim through the chaos to ace their digital marketplace strategy. We simplify the Marketplace model from the lens of 5 broad pivots of Marketplace Operator, Enterprise commerce & marketing capabilities, the right partnerships & alliances in Fulfillment, logistics & Financial services along with building a best in class Tech & Data Ecosystem, as depicted in the graphic below.

Our key capabilities encompass our methodology of Imagine, Build and Run; we develop and implement strategies for customers to grow profitably in a borderless, digitally-and-physically connected world. We lead brands from strategy to execution by setting up feasible business & operational models, defining KPIs, setting up integrated applications to enable associates, and finally delivering exceptional customer experience driven by our Stella Framework.

A few notable value drivers on Marketplace implementation include, but are not limited to;

  • Revenue augmentation with multi-channel & cross-border sales
  • Improved customer targeting & analytics through digital marketing, micro-segmentation & social integrations
  • Cross-sell & Up-sell opportunities through tailored pricing, product bundling & increase AoV (share of wallet)
  • Business process optimization
  • Walking the Talk Leadership: Marketplace Implementation across the globe

Walking The Talk Leadership: Marketplace Implementation Across The Globe

Recently we were approached by one of Asia’s largest transportation hubs to become their digital growth partner, to develop & manage its next-generation omnichannel e-Commerce Marketplace for onboarding and tenant management. BORN developed an experience-led Marketplace platform to provide a personalized shopping experience for Sellers (B2B), consumers (B2C), Enterprise users (B2E). The implementation has helped them to optimize marketing effectiveness, improve operational efficiency with faster time to market, accelerate conversions, and enable topline growth through upselling & cross-sell.

For more information in regard to BORN Group’s Marketplace offerings and further case studies, please inquire here.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Wanted: The Atelier reBORN

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Wanted: The Atelier reBORN

By: Adam Weissman, Back End Associate Developer at BORN Group

For boot camp grads and those early in their tech careers, the conventional
“job-seeker” wisdom is often less about lighting the spark that will make your star burn brightest, but finding a stepping stone that isn’t so slippery that your ambitions are extinguished before your journey even begins. In other words, they say, “Get into a training program, apprenticeship, or junior position as prestigious as possible, so that a second job will be the reward for the first.” While that mindset might be “practical” it disregards that not all training programs are about transforming you from a round peg to fit a square hole, and not all “stepping stones” are for crossing streams — some are for climbing mountains. 

Would-be associates at any company should consider the larger ecosystem of talent, and people they’ll be working with and learning from.

But how do you know if a company is just for crossing a stream, or the mountain to climb? It comes down to whether the associate training program is a factory or an atelier. The atelier, as mentioned here, is best represented in its ideal ‘graduates:’ the Leonardo Da Vincis, Michelangelos, Raphaels, and many more whose work you know, but names you’ve never heard of. The emphasis and goal of the High Renaissance atelier (1490s-1527) was to produce work worthy of the top art patrons of the day. In 2021, we might substitute art commissions for eCommerce builds, and the patrons for today’s leading brands. 

The BORN Associate Program IS the modern equivalent to the renaissance atelier. The analogy starts with each project-build destined to be its own masterpiece, but goes further with each of BORN’s Practices serving as a quarry; with each custom build: Arctic Fox, Bulldog, Eagle, or Bison (supporting leading eCommerce platforms spanning; Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Adobe Commerce Cloud, SAP Customer Experience, or Shopify Plus) acting as a slab of marble waiting to take life. 

But the atelier is truly reborn in the relationships forged by associates with each other, and the Tech Leads that raise them up. In the 2021 class of Salesforce Associates, Tech Leads Matt Meagher and Chris Connell mentored the associates on the nuances of platform-specific problem-solving. Answering questions like; what can go right and what can go wrong, as well as passing down “unwritten documentation” and debugging techniques the way a Master Sculptor might illuminate secrets from one generation to the next. 

“Documentation can teach you only so much. Hands-on experience with the platform, day-to-day tools, and problem-solving techniques is where the real true comprehension happens,” stated Chris Connell, SFCC Tech Lead at BORN Group. 

“I tell anyone confused on how something works to ‘follow the path.’ Not sure what this is doing? What code is it using? What code is that using? Being able to trace that usually leads to discovery. I show them how the codebase can become documentation,” added Matt Meagher, Front End Tech Lead at BORN Group.

Lastly, the BORN Associate Program not only sets new hires on track to realize their potential as technicians with trade tools like Javascript, The Salesforce Platform, Git, and beyond — the way in which Leonardo Da Vinci or Raphael would’ve been masters of mixing their own paints and “techniques of the brush” — but as artisan problem solvers capable of conquering legacy code from pre-built solutions, similar to how Michelangelo might’ve had to reimagine and reengineer St. Peter’s Basilica after 40 years of construction and five earlier architects.

“We are creating a work environment where we consistently identify our team’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and values by maintaining open, effective communication and ongoing encouragement. Based on these assessments we regularly promote new roles and responsibilities to challenge each one of us within the organization,” stated Kevin Yao, Salesforce Practice Lead at BORN Group.

And so, as the BORN Associate Program brings the atelier ‘full circle’, we come back to the point of those bootcamp grads and early tech-career starters that might be wondering, “Where do I go from here?” If you’re looking for a program that will help you realize your potential, where once you ‘graduate’ to production work every project is as its own commission, where the work you do is always fresh, then keep an eye out on BORN’s career page for updates surrounding the next Associate Program.

“Fostering a learning-based culture is paramount to growth, retention and satisfaction. Watching the new energy brought in by each batch of associates is infectious. The maturation of those leading the program gain each go-around is inspiring. The unbridled success of this program is inspiring adoption in other capabilities and geographies. I am personally excited to see the growth that comes out of these types of efforts in the coming years!” stated Dustin Holmstrom, Head of Digital Architecture, North America at BORN Group.

How to Leverage Technology to Improve CX and Build Loyalty

How to Leverage Technology to Improve CX and Build Loyalty

What turns a browser into a customer, and a customer into a repeat customer? It may be as simple as listening and helping shoppers find what they want. That can be done face-to-face in a brick-and-mortar store. For online sellers, it requires technology.

Though brick-and-mortar retail stores have reopened nationwide, the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to drive record online sales. July’s ecommerce sales were lower than June’s, but still up 55% year over year. Adobe Analytics expects online sales for the year to surpass 2019 online sales by October 5, 2020. For many consumers, including some who didn’t shop online before the pandemic, ecommerce is still the best option.

To capture new customers and retain old ones, retailers must provide the essentials: easy browsing, a secure ecommerce store, seamless checkout, and trackable delivery. Yet today’s savvy consumers often want more. They like to see themselves wearing your products. They may want to connect with a sales associate — like they do when shopping in person.

It can all happen online with the right technology. Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence (AI), authentication tools, and curation services can help customers navigate product catalogs. When a shopper needs more detailed assistance, human experts jump in.

Business intelligence platform PSFK examines how technology helps shape customer experience in its Digital Commerce Playbook. Key findings on the importance of customer education and assistance are summarized below and all statistics are attributed to this study;

Help them find what they want

Customers value clear information, well-timed input, and expert opinions. That’s hard to offer when consumers are anonymous, but increasingly, online shoppers are letting themselves be known. About 58% of millennials are willing to share personal information in order to get attuned product recommendations. And 36% of customers (not just millennials) expect a company to be able to provide “relevant recommendations for additional products and services after a single purchase.”

It would take an army of sales associates to offer that sort of personalized shopping experience for all browsers. Fortunately, AI-enabled support can assist with the early stages, narrowing down choices and gleaning preferences. If more personalized help is needed, it can gather information to share with human successors.

Be there for them

Consumers want to feel connected, perhaps now more than ever. Prior to the pandemic, 72% of consumers aged 18–64 said their overall customer experience would be better if they could text with a live agent in real time — too many of us have spent too many hours of our lives caught in endless cycles of automated help lines that provide no answers. Offering different, more human ways to connect can give you a competitive edge. 

Authenticate

Consumers want access to human help, but they also want assurance the products they’re buying are authentic. And unfortunately, the rise of marketplace sales was accompanied by an increase in counterfeit products. More than 70% of products purchased from marketplaces annually are counterfeit, and consumers spend almost $0.5 trillion annually on counterfeit goods.

Marketplaces are aware of the problem and working to stem the tide of counterfeit sales. Meanwhile, customers need assurance they can trust retailers. You can provide that via AI verification and blockchain tracking, among other tools.

In short, people like supporting businesses they can trust. They respond to ecommerce stores that curate selections to their taste and provide personalized assistance. It’s what they expect when they shop in person, and they’re coming to expect it online. Retailers that can fulfill those expectations are likely to outperform those that don’t.

Want more key insights about how technology can improve consumer engagement? Get the report from Avalara. 

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Welcome to BORN’s Partner series! Through this program we look to highlight thought leadership from our vast array of technology partners. Follow along using the hashtag #thisisBORN and #BORNpartner!

Today, we’re thrilled to call attention to our longtime partner, Avalara. Through this insightful piece, we hope you gain an understanding of what types of commerce technology can lift customer experience and bring loyalty to a brand.

BORN Group’s Guide to Mobile eCommerce

BORN Group’s Guide to Mobile eCommerce

Mobile eCommerce or m-commerce is the purchasing of goods and services via mobile devices. You might have thought of mobile phones as being the main device used, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, there are two devices that fall under this category – smartphones as well as tablets. Tablets sales are still increasing year-on-year and are often not given as much consideration when it comes to builds, while smartphones have been a transformative component of the eCommerce industry and are a main consideration as we develop digital strategies for our clients1.

Key m-commerce statistics

  • M-commerce is growing rapidly and is being driven largely by mobile-first economies in emerging markets. In South Korea, for example, a country that adopted mobile early, 65% of online transaction volume now comes from mobile traffic3
  • 76% of customers use mobile devices to purchase because it saves time4.
  • 53% of visitors will abandon the mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load5.
  • Salesforce reports that 75% of customers want consistent experiences across multiple channels (web, mobile, in-person, social) and 73% will likely switch brands if they don’t get it6
  • 70% of users abandon their carts on eCommerce websites while up to 85.65% of those on mobile websites do so. Extra costs and steps till checkout were some factors cited7.

Mobile versus desktop eCommerce

Even as research finds that consumers order more from desktops than from their mobiles, mobile phones still dominate as the source of web traffic. In some segments, such as fashion, more than 75% of traffic comes from mobile devices. However, conversion rates are lower on mobile (0.6%) when compared to desktop (1.3%)8.

Mobile optimization vs mobile apps

Since they store data locally on your smartphone, dedicated apps work up faster than mobile websites. However, there are many steps that customers need to take to search, download and use an app, and thus many more opportunities to abandon the process. App development also uses a lot of resources as the experience has to be rich and rewarding beyond the initial download. Besides websites optimized for mobile, developers these days are turning to progressive web apps which are websites that function like apps.

Design for M-commerce

Any unnecessary steps that take up time till checkout should be eliminated in m-commerce. Fewer steps equals higher conversion rates. 

It’s not enough to reformat your product catalog. Sephora, for instance, included researchers, product and marketing managers as well as developers not to mention customer feedback in its app redesign9.

A small screen compared to a desktop means less real estate, so here are a few more things to keep in mind:

Smart and visual search: The search function is probably the most important feature on a mobile-optimized website. The ability for high-intent visitors to find, categorize, view, and eventually buy the product is contingent on it. Visual trends are also key in the space – text is less important on mobile than high-quality images and video, and repurposing user-generated content is another way to up the visual quotient of your site10. An example is on Lush, whose mobile-optimized website is deeply visual with a rolling feed of social-media-worthy product images. It also has a prominent search bar offering not just the product as well as articles related to it. Visual search tools allow users to search for products using images.

Gestures and thumbs: Smartphone-specific gestures such as scroll, swipe and tap can be used to increase user-friendliness on your website or app. Keep in mind that the part of the screen that your thumbs sweep across is the most valuable space, so buttons critical to the customer journey shouldn’t be on top or too close together at the bottom.

Navigation, carts and pop-ups: It’s essential to think through your information architecture. Keep menus up top and easy to access, carts and number of products there in view at all times and pop-ups to a minimum.

One-click checkout: The feature popularized by Amazon is becoming commonplace on mobile sites and apps. It requires shoppers to enter their payment information once, so that they can use the one-click option to check out without having to re-enter it. 

Speed: Your customer experience correlates very closely with how fast your site or app is. Every second you can shave off is crucial. Google is famous for citing the ‘speed budget’, or a way to optimize site or app speed11.

M-commerce trends 

With the global smartphone numbers at three billion and growing every day, the proportion of eCommerce sales via mobile devices is only set to increase12.

Here are some exciting developments in m-commerce that will be keeping developers and brand managers busy in the foreseeable future. Some trends in eCommerce in general also apply to mobile. 

Omnichannel: With features such as location-based services, barcode scanning and push notifications, retailers can extend the user experience across all their customer touchpoints. 

Personalization: As with the general trend in eCommerce towards personalization, tailored and user-centric content and communications in m-commerce is not just becoming more popular but imperative.

Social commerce: One way to make the experience personal is to integrate key aspects of the social Web that customers are used to – interactions and recommendations from friends, groups, voting, comments and discussions – before and after the purchase. Integrations include pushing purchase information to social feeds or leaving reviews on forums. Moreover, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have all introduced shoppable posts that let shoppers make purchases without having to leave the platform

There are other trends though that are specific to mobile because of the features that smartphones and tablets offer.

Voice shopping: Every smartphone sold these days is equipped with tools such as Alexa and Siri. Moreover, 28% of US households have a smart speaker and that number is expected to rise to 75% by 202513. Voice optimization of your website to make sure your products can be found and purchased in a simple flow using voice commands is becoming a standard feature.

AI, VR & AR: Artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) make it easier for customers to imagine using your products and services. They help replicate the in-store experience in many ways. Amazon offers a ‘see how it looks’ feature. Mobile chatbots are another simple way for customers to ask a question and for a website to funnel customers to the product or answer they are searching for.

Mobile payments: The rise of various digital payment intermediaries such as PayPal, Google Pay and Apple Pay are changing the game in m-commerce. The use of cryptocurrencies is ramping up as PayPal and Venmo now accept all cryptocurrencies for payment14 – but ever more present is the use of mobile or digital wallets to pay for purchases that ensure the security of user details and save even more time. 

As a whole, the array of opportunities that m-commerce can provide for a commerce brand is infinite. For a tangible example of BORN’s work in mobile commerce, check out our case study for Nestlé Gerber here.

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Footnotes

1. Tablet shipments grew in 2020, Apple still dominant, gsmarena.com, https://www.gsmarena.com/tablet_shipments_grew_in_2020_apple_still_dominant_at_number_1-news-47634.php

2. Mobile E-commerce is up and Poised for Further Growth, Statista, https://www.statista.com/chart/13139/estimated-worldwide-mobile-e-commerce-sales/

3. E-commerce worldwide – Statistics & Facts, Statista, https://www.statista.com/topics/871/online-shopping/

4. The state of personalization in mobile commerce, XP2 by Dynamic Yield, https://www.dynamicyield.com/article/50-most-important-dynamicyield-personalization-stats/

5. Google Data, Global, n=3,700 aggregated, anonymized Google Analytics data from a sample of mWeb sites opted into sharing benchmark data, March 2016, GoogleData, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-trends/mobile-site-load-time-statistics/

6. Customer Expectations Hit All-Time Highs, Salesforce, https://www.salesforce.com/research/customer-expectations/

7. Cart abandonment statistics, Sleeknote, https://sleeknote.com/blog/cart-abandonment-statistics#1

8. 2020 Global Digital Growth Benchmarks for Fashion Marketers, Insider, https://useinsider.com/report/2020-global-digital-growth-benchmarks-for-fashion-marketers/

9. How Sephora gave its app a customer-first makeover, ThinkwithGoogle.com, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/app-and-mobile/app-user-experience-redesign/

10. The State of Mobile E-Commerce Search and Category Navigation, Baymard Institute, https://baymard.com/blog/mobile-ecommerce-search-and-navigation

11. How speeding up your mobile site can improve your bottom line, ThinkwithGoogle.com, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/app-and-mobile/mobile-page-speed-data/

12. Number of smartphone users worldwide from 2016 to 2021, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/330695/number-of-smartphone-users-worldwide/

13. Smart speaker household penetration rate in the United States from 2014 to 2025*, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1022847/united-states-smart-speaker-household-penetration/

14. PayPal and Venmo will offer and accept cryptocurrency for all online payments, theverge.com, https://www.theverge.com/2020/10/21/21527288/paypal-cryptocurrency-support-buy-sell-venmo-bitcoin

5 Tips for Success for B2B eCommerce Retailers

5 Tips for Success for B2B eCommerce Retailers

Last week’s blog post, centered around the rise of B2B eCommerce outlined the immense potential traditional business retailers have by adopting a digital-first strategy. In this article, we’ve gathered our top 5 insights B2B brands can leverage to further develop and grow their B2B offering, to take advantage of the recent surge in online transactions.

Attract customers using organic and paid marketing

An organic, as well as paid marketing media strategy that involves an SEO strategy, will help drive relevant users to your website. This could take the form of social media marketing, display and banners ads, emails, and press releases to drive traffic and generate leads using content offers.

Focus on stellar customer experience

Traditionally, a B2B purchase involves far less emotional appeal compared to a B2C one, and they also involve many more stakeholders in a relatively standardized purchase journey. However, rest assured that customer experience is still at the top of the list of important factors to lock in a B2B sale. 

  • A fast, responsive and easily navigable website that offers intuitive search results that can also be accessed from multiple devices is key. Optimization for mobile is a trend in B2B eCommerce that most organizations are adopting to reach the millennials involved in the purchase process. An omnichannel strategy can also help in gathering data around the customer’s preferences. W. W. Grainger, which scores in the top tier on distributor B2B surveys, recently introduced a visual search on its mobile app1
  • Order approval workflows should be able to accommodate multiple parties and roles in the buying committees.
  • Personalization and user journeys are equally important to take into consideration. Unique personal content such as personalized product catalogs will appeal to your customer’s needs. Further, adjust cross-selling and upselling suggestions based on the user’s purchase history. 
  • Sales teams have to be rearranged. With marketplaces taking a chunk out of traditional B2B sales, sales teams have to be reconfigured to offer personal connection, advice, broader expertise and build relationships2. According to a Forrester Research study, 68% of B2B buyers prefer doing business online versus with a salesperson, and when they engage with sales, they want that experience to be in a more problem-solving, consultative manner3.
  • Take customer feedback into account. Reliable customer support both during and after-sale is vital. Existing customers are a goldmine of feedback. 
  • AI and automation are increasingly being put to use to take the drudgery and paperwork out of the purchase process. Chatbots that are available 24/7 and also upsell and cross-sell products. At Genesys, the chatbot feature resulted in a whopping 50% less cart abandonment4
  • More information on product pages, different product views, and supporting information such as videos are even more important in B2B eCommerce, especially if you’re selling in bulk. More information will reduce communications, returns, and complaints5.

Pick the right B2B eCommerce technology platform

The architecture for your site is based on both customer need and maturity. Is it commerce-led, content-led, side-by-side or a pure headless model? Choosing the right platform that can handle all your needs can make or break your online offer. Developing an MVP (minimum viable product) can also shorten time to market and leave room to develop features based on feedback from customers. 

Flexible ordering, payment and pricing options

B2B customers need much more leeway with their ordering and custom pricing options as opposed to B2C customers. You have to be able to take purchase orders and credit applications into account and offer digital invoices, various payment methods, and a real-time snapshot of inventory. Incentivize new customers with free trials, reduced shipping costs, or a money-back guarantee. You can entice existing customers with easy order replenishment or loyalty rewards for repeat purchases such as discounts, tiered incentives, access to new features or a complimentary service.

Use social media marketing and user-generated content

Social media can not only be used to drive customers to your site but also for customer engagement. LinkedIn and Twitter are highly popular with B2B companies in regard to connecting with their audiences through text, podcasts, and video, gaining insights via feedback, providing thought leadership, and learning about their buyer persona. They can help funnel the customer from the education and awareness stage towards actual promotional content. Intel (@Intel) with its 4.8million followers is a great example of a B2B Twitter presence6. Publishing customer reviews are another way of establishing authenticity and credibility by driving user-generated content7.

As a leading systems integrator for platforms such as SAP Commerce Cloud, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Adobe Commerce, BigCommerce, Shopify Plus, commercetools, VTEX, and Elastic Path, BORN Group is well-qualified to assess and advise you on the best platform to meet your unique needs.

For more information around BORN Group’s B2B offerings, please visit here.

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Footnotes

1. Grainger eyes a big future for its new mobile visual search tool, Nov 2019, Digitalcommerce360.

2. In 2021, B2B Marketing And Sales Become More Human, Thanks To Tech, Forrester Research, Nov 2020, https://go.forrester.com/what-it-means/ep193-b2b-marketing-sales-predictions-2021/

3. The Death Of A (B2B) Salesman, Forrester Research, May 2017, https://go.forrester.com/what-it-means/ep12-death-b2b-salesman/

4. The Total Economic Impact of the Genesys Omnichannel Engagement Centre Solution, Forrester, Feb 2016, https://genbin.genesys.com/old/resources/TEI_Case_Study_Genesys_-_2052016_FINAL.pdf

5. Rethink the B2B Buyer’s Journey, LinkedIn, https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/marketing-solutions/global/en_US/campaigns/pdfs/rethink-b2b-buyers-journey-v03.09-eng-us.pdf

6. 5 Top B2B Brands Delivering Exemplary Twitter Engagement, Toprankblog.com, Sep 2019, https://www.toprankblog.com/2019/09/exemplary-twitter-engagement/

7. The Rise of B2B Product Reviews,  https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/business/en-us/marketing-solutions/resources/pdfs/linkedin-crowd-b2b-product-review-book.pdf

The Rise of B2B eCommerce: Why Traditional Business Retailers Are Headed Online

The Rise of B2B eCommerce: Why Traditional Business Retailers Are Headed Online

Business-to-business (B2B) is a commercial transaction that is conducted between businesses, as opposed to B2C which is a transaction between a company and its customers. B2B transactions might take place between, say, a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a retailer. 

Multiple B2B transactions take place in a supply chain where a manufacturer might buy raw material or components that can be used in the manufacturing process. The end-result is the finished product. Much of the purchase process occurs through electronic data interchange (EDI) currently. EDI is well suited for large, recurring orders. B2B eCommerce can also include electronic products such as websites as well as software to increase business efficiencies. 

Learning from B2C

Spurred by the success of eCommerce in the B2C space, many organizations are gradually moving to the Internet and applying some principles and practices from that sphere to that of their supplier or wholesaler and retailer relationships. In 2019, global B2B eCommerce gross merchandise volume (GMV) amounted to 12.2 trillion U.S. dollars, up from approximately 5.83 trillion U.S. dollars in 20131.

Just as an eCommerce shop uses the power of the Internet to allow people to find out more about the company’s products or services and purchase them, online product or supply exchange sites allow other businesses to find out about the products and initiate procurement via an interface. B2B eCommerce sites also allow for more information, images and product descriptions that allow for cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

B2B vs B2C

While B2C involves more impulse buying, B2B solutions purchasing is more thoughtful and planned. B2B relationships are long-term and ongoing and purchases are usually recurring, and for this, the customers expect reliable deliveries along with attractive and dynamic prices and terms

It is no wonder then that B2B purchasing has become even more complex with more stakeholders involved and deliberating in the purchase process2. These developments have become imperative to make the process itself easier. A smooth customer experience is paramount, even in a seemingly standardized B2B purchase journey3.

B2B eCommerce Marketplaces

Leveraging an eCommerce platform, companies can set up marketplaces and online directories specializing in certain industries or products that facilitate B2B transactions. Besides Amazon Business which uses very similar principles to its B2C business, some of the most well-known B2B marketplaces include:

  • Horizontal marketplaces: An early pioneer of a horizontal B2B marketplace was Alibaba. Launched in Guangzhou by Jack Ma in 1998, Alibaba filled a need – to connect Chinese small and medium-sized businesses and wholesalers with clients overseas. Like Amazon, it charged a subscription to sellers who wanted to customize their shop. Unlike Amazon which leveraged its logistics network, Alibaba remains a platform player. Similar generalist marketplaces such as ThomasNet in the US and Tradenet India also exist. The other elephant in the room is Amazon Business. Like Alibaba, an Amazon Business account is a one-stop shop that enables a company which purchases corporate items and supplies to save costs and makes the process efficient. Amazon Business is set to top US$31 billion in revenue and US$52 billion in gross merchandise volume by 2023, including sales by third-party sellers on the marketplace, according to RBC Capital Markets4.
  • Vertical marketplaces: Vertical marketplaces have been around in industries such as automotive and healthcare for a couple of decades but new ones such as Makers Row for fashion, GoDirect Trade in aerospace, CheMondis in chemicals, FastMetals in iron and steel, and Farmers Business Network in agriculture are proliferating. Today, there are more than 70 B2B marketplaces in more than 13 diverse industries, according to research compiled by Digital Commerce 360 B2B5.
  • Service marketplaces: Service marketplaces such as Upwork (for freelancers) and Fiverr (micro-services), where the buying process is different from that of physical goods. One does not choose a supplier or offer but instead sends a request for quotation through the system, and receive offers from all the service providers. Buyers generally can’t browse seller profiles.

B2B eCommerce Trends 

  • Mobile: Mobile transactions for B2B eCommerce are becoming increasingly popular as more millennials drive the purchasing process. Given the 90% increase in B2B executives using mobile devices to research business purchases, mobile sites are now an essential business tool6. Mobile B2B eCommerce requires dynamic pricing and stock indications as well as real-time discount calculation.
  • Personalization, user personas and user journeys: According to Salesforce, almost 75% of business buyers expect vendors to personalize engagements to their needs and 8 in 10 say that the experience is as important as the products and services themselves7. These are high-level decision-makers with complex priorities and speaking to them about their pain-points, roles, goals, and objectives cuts through the noise.
  • AI-driven features: Tools powered by machine learning such as search enable the customer to find what they are looking for faster, with features like auto-suggestions, as well as fuzzy, partial and faceted searches, only added to the utility of the site.
  • Content marketing: The General Electric (GE) B2B experience is held as the gold standard of how to communicate with customers in a B2B environment. Using innovative videos, blogs, user-generated content and collaborations with influencers, GE uses content marketing to demystify its business products and build its brand8.

B2B at BORN

For a North American machine tool manufacturer, BORN implemented a sophisticated solution whereby when a part of a client’s machine goes down, an automated email is sent and the unit is reordered and replaced. This was a vast improvement from the previous system that consisted of multiple steps executed manually.

In another use case, BORN developed an innovative and efficient eCommerce and service experience for client Nestlé Starbucks and its Starbucks Branded Solutions by delivering a best-practice, extensible, global eCommerce framework leveraging an enterprise-grade platform and other key systems to amplify the growth of the online channel.

Over the years, BORN has worked with leading enterprise eCommerce platforms with a focus on B2B commerce, as well as associated applications such as order (OMS), content (CMS) and product management systems (PIM). Powering many of BORN’s solutions are B2B accelerators such as the first-ever SAP-certified accelerator for SAP Commerce Cloud, Eagle. Eagle is our eCommerce framework built exclusively by BORN for SAP Commerce Cloud (B2B, B2C & Custom C2C). In addition, Bulldog is BORN’s Adobe Commerce accelerator which includes pre-built extensions, B2B custom UX & UI features, and special B2B enhancements to essential functionalities.

For more information surrounding BORN’s B2B offerings and case studies, please visit here.

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1. Global B2B e-commerce gross merchandise volume (GMV) 2013-2019, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/705606/global-b2b-e-commerce-gmv/

2. The New Sales Imperative, Harvard Business Review, March-April 2017, https://hbr.org/2017/03/the-new-sales-imperative

3.  New B2B Buying Journey & its Implication for Sales, Gartner, https://www.gartner.com/en/sales/insights/b2b-buying-journey

4.  There’s a unit inside Amazon that will be a $31 billion business in four years, RBC says, CNBC, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/06/amazon-business-a-b2b-unit-to-reach-31-billion-revenue-by-2023-rbc.html

5.  Why marketplaces occupy center stage in B2B ecommerce, DigitalCommerce360, https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2020/03/05/why-marketplaces-occupy-center-stage-in-b2b-ecommerce/

6. The Changing Face of B2B Marketing, ThinkwithGoogle.com, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-trends/the-changing-face-b2b-marketing/

7. Young Buyers Are Driving B2B Expectations of B2C-Like Experiences, Marketingcharts.com, https://www.marketingcharts.com/industries/business-to-business-83757

8.  GE Raises the Bar for B2B Content Marketing, enveritasgroup.com, https://enveritasgroup.com/campfire/ge-raises-the-bar-for-b2b-content-marketing/