B2B organisations consider ecommerce to be a key revenue driver, with contributions made to annual revenues by online trading expected to grow by 6 percentage points this year.
Businesses are prioritising the adoption of ecommerce over the development of their bricks and mortar presence, but are facing challenges in implementing an online sales operation
This is according to the findings of newly released research jointly commissioned by Master Data Management company Stibo Systems and ecommerce digital agency Salmon.
In order to explore the latest trends in ecommerce for business-facing organisations, 100 senior UK decision-makers in manufacturing and wholesale companies were questioned about the current stage in their adoption of ecommerce, what they had planned over the next two to three years, and what challenges they faced in implementing successful ecommerce strategies.
The survey found that revenue generated by ecommerce is expected to increase by an average of 6 percentage points (from an average of 28% to 34%) over the next 12 months, with almost two thirds of businesses (64%) forecasting ecommerce contributions of between 21 and 40 percent.
Two thirds of B2B organisations already sell online to their business customers, with the remaining third planning to do so and, recognising the increasing contribution to their business’s bottom line, many companies are currently investing further in their digital sales platforms.
For example, although the majority (84%) favour a traditional customer-facing website, 42% are taking steps to extend their reach by optimising their sites for smartphones or tablets, with 59% increasing international accessibility with regionally focused sites.
However, many companies planning on launching an online sales operation are finding that they don’t have the necessary resources and skills to fully implement or maintain an in-house ecommerce department.
The most common issues were finding the right technology to support an ecommerce strategy (62%), and not having the resources and knowledge needed for its ongoing management (55%). In addition, half of the companies surveyed (52%) feel they’re unable to develop the right business model that would allow them to integrate ecommerce with their existing sales processes.
It looks likely therefore that, in order to capitalise on the opportunities made available by B2B ecommerce, businesses will increasingly rely on third party support not only for technology, but also for guidance on strategy (48%), implementation (59%), and ongoing management (55%).
Commenting on the report, Simon Walker, director, ecommerce innovation at Stibo Systems, said “We’ve seen that ecommerce is a priority for all the organisations that took part in this survey. It’s perceived as the way forward, and the opportunities for revenue that it presents are vast once these businesses are able to overcome any issues they might face.”
Craig Harper-Ashton, head of multichannel at Salmon, added “Enterprises have identified where they are lacking the necessary resource or knowledge. With the help of third party support, they will soon reap the benefits of a successful ecommerce operation.”
The survey was conducted by Coleman Parkes Research in February 2013. The sample consisted of 100 senior business decision makers in charge of ecommerce development and delivery for a mix of large manufacturers and wholesalers (1,000+ employees) that either currently have an ecommerce operation or are planning to implement one. All interviewers abided by the MRS code of conduct.