Blog Post - Patrick Munden, Nov 28 2016

Sharing the 5 secrets of B2B ecommerce success

Sharing the 5 secrets of B2B ecommerce success

B2B ecommerce is now big business. It’s a market expected to grow to twice the size of B2C ecommerce by 2020. And with competition intensifying across borders and channels, through globalisation, digitisation and other factors, doing B2B right, or at least better, is now a commercial imperative. Global digital consultancy Salmon set out to uncover the secrets for success in B2B ecommerce.

Drawing on data from a survey by Forrester Consulting of business decision-makers across UK, Germany, Benelux and the US*, Salmon sought to identify the key success factors of the ecommerce leaders in B2B, who were defined as digital experts. Here are the key areas we found that separate the experts from the rest.

1. A clearly defined digital strategy that’s successfully executed

All of the companies surveyed agreed that having a clearly defined and articulated digital strategy is important. Yet only 11% of the organisations – the experts – are executing digital successfully, to maximise business value from investment in digital solutions. And this is a potential cause for concern for the rest, as 66% of respondents to a Salmon survey** expect ecommerce to drive most sales for their organisation in B2B markets over the next five years.

2. A digital culture that promotes cross-function collaboration across the business

The experts unanimously agreed that their CEO champions their digital strategy. Exploring the role of different teams in delivering digital projects revealed that expert organisations promote deep cross-business collaboration too.

Almost a third of the leaders have also established digital centres of excellence (COE), to help consolidate digital resources and skills and break down organisational silos.

3. The funding to succeed

A common and major challenge for technology and business leaders in B2B is lack of funding allocated to digital strategy. Engaging with financial teams is critical to define investment profiles and success criteria, along with allocating the right budget.

4. Focusing on external and/or customer-focused initiatives

When we looked at the top digital objectives of leaders, we found that the experts focus more on external or customer-facing initiatives (69%). Having a stronger customer focus has, in turn, promoted the benefits of a unified digital experience for customers across all channels, and improved competitive advantage.

5. The ability to clearly measure progress

Whilst more than two-thirds of survey respondents claimed they could clearly measure the business results of their digital strategy, the experts go further, focusing on data analytics and measurement to support better decision-making and business planning. This helps them substantiate the value of their digital initiatives and better understand and anticipate their customers’ needs.

For more detail on how to adopt the best practice of the digital experts, and to accelerate the transformation of your B2B organisation in a digital-first world, download the Salmon report “Digital Expert or Laggard: Why Digital Maturity in B2B Matters”.


*The data was used to support the report “Prepare your business for the digital future” by Forrester Consulting (February 2016), commissioned by Salmon and Rackspace.

** Salmon 2015 report “British Business in the Digital Age”