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Google follows Amazon into b-to-b e-commerce space

CHALLENGES AHEAD

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The growing presence of such large players could exert even more pressure on b-to-b e-commerce companies to include features—such as personalization, user reviews; cross- and up-sell options; flash sales; and shipping incentives—that are standard on consumer shopping sites and that business buyers are beginning to expect. But many b-to-b sites have not evolved past order-entry tools, requiring customers to have a catalog in front of them, hybris' Walker said. "This is no longer going to work," he said. "[They have to] embrace Web and mobile best practices that make it as easy as possible to buy." Amazon and Google, on the other hand, may also have to build out their offerings, Forrester's Hoar said, establishing trust with users and providing more content to compete with the strengths of high-touch b-to-b suppliers and distributors. "The challenge for the [b-to-b e-commerce companies] who had a print catalog is how do you tech up your offering," Hoar said. "The challenge for Google Shopping for Suppliers and AmazonSupply is how do you build a product that's not just a tech shell and actually has substance behind it. The two shall meet in the middle, but whoever gets there first and best will win," he said, noting that it might be more than one company. Asked if the company plans to add content or services to Google Shopping for Suppliers, Jones said, "Google Shopping for Suppliers is still in beta. We're concentrating on building a positive experience for buyers and suppliers alike, and will continue to do so, but have no plans to announce at this time."

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