B-to-b learns from b-to-c e-commerce experience


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In addition to determining how to account for sales initiated by a reseller or distributor, b-to-b companies must decide how salespeople are to be compensated for e-commerce sales in their territories. “There was a lot of fear that e-commerce was going to take away jobs,” Stewart said. In the end, however, e-commerce may relieve salespeople of secretarial tasks and order-taking, and free them to make more sales calls for new business. “Most of the sales guys I talk to don't see it as a problem at all,” Lechler said. “They see it as an opportunity.” E-commerce platforms must also be integrated with such existing systems as ERP and CRM. Many companies say they find this process easier than integrating e-commerce with existing salespeople and channel partners. “APIs are a lot more robust now,” Wehmann said. Software-as-a-service offerings in the cloud can also make the investment in an e-commerce platform more palatable for small and midsize b-to-b companies. Despite its complexity, b-to-b e-commerce is going to be a reality in most industries, analysts say. “Unequivocally, there's no question, you're behind the curve [if you're not working on your e-commerce strategy],” Fletcher said. “I can guarantee you, if you're not doing it, your competitors are.”

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