Marketing Strategy

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Insights Into Navigating B2B Ecommerce Trends

Lance Owide

Lance Owide is the Senior Director and General Manager of B2B at BigCommerce, a platform offering comprehensive e-commerce solutions to B2C and B2B brands worldwide. Prior to his role at BigCommerce, Lance honed his expertise in finance, spending four years at UBS investment bank and another four in private equity at Apollo Global Management. Moving from finance to the forefront of the e-commerce industry, Lance brings a robust understanding of digital transformation and growth strategies for manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers in a rapidly evolving online marketplace.

 

 

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [1:44] Lance Owide shares his transition from traditional finance roles to digital e-commerce leadership
  • [4:37] Why B2B businesses are adopting e-commerce faster than B2C
  • [10:47] The benefits and challenges of omnichannel sales strategies for B2B companies
  • [11:33] How personalization in e-commerce can dramatically increase average order value and conversions
  • [15:27] The generational shifts in B2B businesses fueling digital adoption
  • [27:46] Insights into the critical elements B2B buyers seek in an e-commerce experience
  • [34:48] AI’s potential to revolutionize B2B e-commerce, from product descriptions to customer service
  • [41:45] What is the importance of integrations and streamlined operations in B2B digital success?
  • [50:00] The critical role of security and compliance in building trust in B2B e-commerce.

In this episode…

Digital transition, especially for businesses in the B2B sector, is not always smooth sailing. The shift demands an understanding of not only the technology but the needs and behaviors of digital-savvy buyers. How can companies navigate this complex landscape and ensure they’re not left behind?

Enterprise e-commerce guru Lance Owide shares his rich experience transitioning from the world of banking to the front lines of digital e-commerce. Lance breaks down the digital transformation journey for B2B businesses, emphasizing the importance of adopting e-commerce strategies that are tailored to the evolving needs of B2B buyers. He discusses the trend toward self-service platforms and the crucial role of an omnichannel presence, highlighting how personalization and AI are transforming the B2B space. His insights provide practical takeaways for businesses looking to harness digital power for growth and customer loyalty.

Tune into this episode of Proof Point as Stacie Porter Bilger chats with Lance Owide, the Senior Director and General Manager of B2B at BigCommerce, about digitization and e-commerce innovation in B2B. Lance highlights the synergies between tech, finance, and B2B e-commerce, dives deep into the strategies and tools for pivoting to a digital-first marketplace, and discusses the value of modern systems, such as ERP and BigCommerce platforms, in facilitating digital transformation.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Quotable Moments:

  • “You can take that front end and open source it, so you can customize it as needed.”
  • “We’re really not that far away from search becoming AI-powered.”
  • “For B2B, the e-commerce site acts as a central location where customers can self-serve.”
  • “Digital transformation is not just the e-commerce front end; it’s about making the business more efficient.”
  • “Cross-selling and upselling are key drivers for moving online in the B2B space.”

Action Steps:

  1. Digitally transform the internal processes before launching an e-commerce platform: This ensures seamless integration and optimization across the organization, lays a foundational digital infrastructure, and addresses operational efficiency.
  2. Adopt a customer-centric approach when developing a B2B e-commerce website, focusing on the unique buying processes of B2B customers: This tailors the online experience to buyer expectations, which enhances satisfaction and loyalty.
  3. Leverage AI and personalization to serve B2B buyers better and improve the online purchasing journey: Advanced tools can predict customer needs and streamline the sales process.
  4. Utilize omnichannel strategies to provide a cohesive and comprehensive customer experience across all touchpoints: This ensures brand consistency and meets customers where they are, which is crucial in a multichannel B2B world.
  5. Emphasize the importance of security and compliance in your digital platforms to build client trust: This addresses concerns unique to B2B transactions, reinforcing the reliability of the digital shift.

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Proof Digital.

We are a strategic and creative performance marketing agency partnering with organizations to create data-fueled marketing engines that drive growth and deliver a tangible ROI.

Founded by Stacie Porter Bilger in 2012, Proof Digital employs a strategic marketing approach by blending today’s marketing tools like SEO, PPC, and paid social ads with traditional sales funnel processes.

Ready to get results? Visit https://proofdigital.com/ to learn more.

Interview Transcription –

Insights Into Navigating B2B Ecommerce Trends

(0:02 – 0:14)

Welcome to the Proofpoint Podcast, where we decode digital success, one click at a time. We share key takeaways fueled by data and insights that your team can implement today to drive growth. Now, let’s get started.

 

(0:20 – 0:44)

This is Stacey Porter-Bilger, your host of the Proofpoint Podcast, where I feature B2B and D2C businesses and thought leaders, sharing marketing data tactics, sales strategies and leadership insights that will kickstart your growth in this rapidly changing digital space. This episode is brought to you by Proof Digital. Proof Digital is a strategic and creative performance marketing agency.

 

(0:44 – 0:58)

We partner with companies to create data-fueled marketing sales funnels. Before I introduce our guest today, I want to give a shout out to Lauren Spence at BigCommerce. I met her actually for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and we had a great discussion via podcast on improving your checkout.

 

(0:58 – 1:10)

I mean, just dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s there to increase revenue. So it’s a great episode coming up here soon. And she introduced me to our guest today, Lance Owide.

 

(1:10 – 1:35)

Lance is a general manager of B2B at BigCommerce, an enterprise e-commerce solution for B2B and B2C enterprise businesses. Prior to joining BigCommerce, Lance spent four years at UBS Investment Bank and four years in private equity at Apollo Global Management. Lance, thanks for joining.

 

(1:35 – 1:50)

Stacy, thank you so much for having me on. Proof point podcast, that’s quite some alliteration, the tongue twister right there. It is. And so I’m working on that. It was great. Thank you.

 

(1:50 – 2:10)

You know, to kick it off, I mean, you have a couple, you’re in the BigCommerce space, you’re in e-commerce, and I think I heard you focus a lot on B2B, but you have a background a little bit in private equity and banking, too. So to start out, just tell me a little bit about your story. Yeah, sure.

 

(2:12 – 2:20)

Mine is actually, you’ve had lots of folks on the podcast that have 20 years of e-commerce experience. That’s not me. My background is finance, and I tell people, please don’t hold that against me.

 

(2:24 – 2:34)

Yes, I was in finance, so I’ve seen the light, and I’m in e-commerce now. I’ve gone from the dark side to the light side, but I started my career at UBS Investment Bank. I was actually in the kind of technology arm of the bank.

 

(2:38 – 3:05)

I was on the sales and trading side, so I sat on the trading floor, but I worked with a team of engineers who built a fantastic product that helped pension funds, insurance companies, manage their money and manage their risk, and I was part of the sales team for that product. So it was tech-based, but very finance-focused. So for any folks out there that have a Texas Teachers Pension Fund or something like that, they’d be using technology that I sold them eight-plus years ago that was with UBS.

 

(3:13 – 3:38)

And then I moved from there into private equity. Again, sticking on the finance note, though, is insurance private equity, all the fun in the world. Oh, I was thinking, yeah, I was involved a little bit in the startup world, high-growth startup world, and going after angel investments and those types of things, and that’s a lot more sexy than what you’re talking about there on the insurance side, so I mean, am I right on that? I didn’t mean to judge.

 

(3:39 – 3:47)

No, that is perfectly, that judgment is warranted. It is not a sexy SaaS investment. We were buying and managing insurance companies.

 

(3:50 – 3:53)

It was great fun, though. I learned a huge amount. I was employee number six of a new team that was being built in Europe.

 

(3:57 – 4:19)

It was just fun. Exactly. We took the team from, these numbers are huge because they’re insurance, but a couple of billion dollars management to $100 billion in management, so we 10 plus X the size of the business, rapid, rapid growth, and it was great, but I had an itch, and that itch was to move into tech.

 

(4:22 – 5:02)

I’d started my career in finance, but really kind of tech-focused, and I wanted to come back and work for a technology company, and so I was surveying the landscape, where did I want to go, and the e-commerce boom really caught my eye, the speed with which transactions have and continue to move online is a business that I wanted to be in. I wanted to be a part of that trend and that wave, and big commerce came knocking. I actually joined big commerce to look after M&A integration, and that was just as big commerce was about to complete its first large acquisition, which was of Fedonomics.

 

(5:08 – 5:41)

Fedonomics, yeah, go ahead and say what Fedonomics is, it’s a great, amazing data tool. It’s an incredible tool for taking product data and sending it to marketplaces, ad channels, or on the B2B side, distributors and wholesalers. It’s the best platform on the market for doing it, and I’m not just saying that, 30% of the IR1000 use Fedonomics to get their data into Amazon, Walmart, Google shopping, because it is the best at optimizing that data for cost per click, and even for margin.

 

(5:49 – 5:59)

So I joined just as we were about to close that acquisition. I spent six months working with the leadership team of Fedonomics, getting them settled into big commerce, and it was fantastic. I worked so hard, but got to know some incredible people.

 

(6:03 – 6:29)

As you can imagine, I came from finance, and there’s a very, very steep learning curve, but everyone was so friendly to me, took their time to teach me the ropes. But it was a great way to learn, being effectively the right-hand person for the Fedonomics leadership team as they joined big commerce. And for anyone who’s followed the evolution of Fedonomics, they’ve just gone from strength to strength to strength to strength since acquisition.

 

(6:32 – 6:43)

And they have really found a great home, I think, here at big commerce. That role was a six-month gig. And after that, we moved on to B2B.

 

(6:47 – 6:57)

For those who aren’t familiar, what does B2B really mean? It’s manufacturing distribution and wholesale. So we think of B2C, D2C, commerce. That’s a Walmart.

 

(6:59 – 7:01)

That’s a Target. That’s an Allbirds. That’s a Badly Mishka.

 

(7:03 7:10)

That’s an insert here. There are so many brands that we can think of as B2C and D2C. The B2B is, I like to think, the lifeblood, really, of the country.

 

(7:14 – 7:32)

That’s the production of the boring things that you don’t think about, and then the sale of those boring things that you don’t think about. The wood that built my house, the HVAC system that is in my house, these were built and sold from a business to a business. And funnily enough, B2B businesses are actually moving online faster than B2C.

 

(7:40 – 7:48)

So today, ecommerce is growing about 10% on the B2C side. It’s nearly double that for B2C. And there are loads of different reasons that no doubt we’ll get into.

 

(7:50 – 7:53)

We’ll get into. Because their customers want them to. I mean, that’s the number one reason.

 

(7:56 – 7:59)

But there’s a lot of other behind that. Like you said, we’re going to get into that. Exactly.

 

(8:00 – 8:16)

And I’m sure we’ll get into all of that great, great stuff. But so at BigCommerce, we realized we already had a great platform for B2B because of how open and flexible we are, because we support some of the more complicated B2B requirements. But we wanted to take it to the next level.

 

(8:19 – 8:25)

And in order to do that, we went down the acquisition path. And so we actually acquired two B2B companies. One was called B2B Ninja, and one was called Bundle B2B.

 

(8:28 – 8:43)

And we acquired them both. And obviously, I was on the M&A side. So helping to do our B deal due diligence, writing the strategic rationales for why we should buy these companies, why it was so important that we took that step forward in B2B.

 

(8:43 – 8:55)

And as we closed both those acquisitions, I looked around and said to my boss, this is the place I want to stay. I want to stay in B2B. This is a rocket ship of growth.

 

(8:57 – 9:18)

And if we get this right, as an e-commerce platform, we’ll be a leader in B2B. And over the past two, three years, and obviously, I’m biased, I would say we’ve got a huge amount right. And we really are, as a platform on the precipice, we’re already there as a real leader in the B2B e-commerce space, especially in mid-market.

 

(9:21 – 9:59)

And as we slowly grow into larger and larger enterprise businesses, we have businesses on big commerce today doing between $6 billion, and I think one of those are coming right now, $60 billion manufacturer of construction materials in Europe, who are building on big commerce, truly, truly fantastic. For those actually who aren’t familiar with big commerce, though, we’re an e-commerce platform, a SaaS e-commerce platform, supporting B2C, C2C, and B2B businesses at any stage of their growth. But our sweet spot, really, that mid-market and enterprise, those businesses that are looking to grow online, we have so much success with.

 

(10:03 – 10:28)

And so that’s kind of my background and my story, how I ended up at big commerce. And today, I’m the general manager of B2B here at big commerce. I work cross-functionally with every team at big commerce, from go-to-market, customer success, to our partnerships teams who are working on payments partnerships, agency partnerships, technology partnerships, to ensure that our manufacturers and distributors can be successful on our platform.

 

(10:29 – 10:47)

That’s all I think about all day, manufacturing, distribution, e-commerce, ensuring those businesses can sell online and back online through big commerce. That is awesome. And we’re going to have a great conversation, because although I’m not in the day-to-day piece of the technology that you’re building, I am the day-to-day of helping those companies.

 

(10:54 – 11:14)

We have manufacturing companies, both that have models. One is even though they have a D2C brand, but they have B2B as well. So they’re selling their product at Walmart or the shoe store down the road, but they also want to do direct-to-consumer.

 

(11:15 – 11:26)

So they have both. And then we have manufacturers as well who have grown significantly by moving to an e-commerce platform. And it’s just the trend is going nothing but up.

 

(11:31 – 11:34)

Yeah, I mean, that’s a really great point. You touch on that kind of hybrid. We’re seeing a lot of that.

 

(11:36 – 11:51)

It’s manufacturers who want to go direct-to-consumer and B2C businesses who are opening wholesale channels, starting with the kind of manufacturer. The manufacturer going direct-to-consumer, they’re trying to claw back some of that margin. Inflation is high.

 

(11:55 – 12:00)

Production costs have increased. Labor costs have increased. Margins are getting squeezed.

 

(12:01 – 12:11)

They’re getting more squeezed for distributors than manufacturers, but they’re still getting squeezed. And manufacturers are seeing that they can claw back some of that margin by going direct-to-consumer. There are lots of channel conflicts there, and we can talk about that probably for days.

 

(12:15 – 12:17)

That’s its own podcast. Yeah, it is. We can definitely talk about that.

 

(12:19 – 12:27)

And that’s something they’re all navigating, but they’re all omni-channel anyway. And not all of them, but more and more. Yeah, a large number of them, exactly.

 

(12:31 – 12:38)

And there are some very clever and smart ways now that you can handle that channel conflict. We’ve got manufacturers on BigCommerce. You hit their site.

 

(12:40 – 12:47)

You can purchase, but you’re not really purchasing from them. You’re purchasing from one of their distributors based on where you’re located and where you’re shipping to. And very clever ways to handle that channel conflict.

 

(12:50 – 12:57)

The other piece you mentioned though, B2C businesses going wholesale. That is happening all the time. Lots of reasons for that.

 

(12:59 – 13:17)

One of the biggest is it has got hard and more expensive to attract customers to a B2C, D2C site. It is expensive with all of the changes that are happening regarding online advertising, cookies, etc. Cost per click.

 

(13:18 – 13:31)

That cost of customer acquisition is two, three times what it was three, four years ago. And so B2C businesses are looking for other avenues that they can sell their products. And wholesale is a great example of it.

 

(13:33 – 13:38)

Just picking an example out here. Barbecues Galore on BigCommerce. They launched a wholesale site specifically because they wanted to tap that channel.

 

(13:43 – 13:46)

They’re actually out in APAC. They launched in Australia and New Zealand on the platform. They did it in three months, which is just fantastic.

 

(13:49 – 13:55)

But that’s why they’re doing it. Because it’s tough out there in B2C land. It really is difficult.

 

(13:56 – 14:07)

But wholesale is a great channel you can tap. If you can start selling to mom and pop shops to larger retailers that want to sell your product. Well, that cost of acquisition can be much lower, higher average order value, etc.

 

(14:13 – 14:14)

Exactly. Larger volume. It’s a great growth channel for businesses.

 

(14:21 – 14:28)

Yep. And that, I mean, we’ll get into it, but your platform makes it easier to do that. I mean, a lot easier.

 

(14:30 – 14:41)

I mean, as far as compared to other your competitors from a B2B to B2C. You know, we launched one recently, Propét in Canada. And they’re working on their wholesale.

 

(14:44 – 14:59)

They’re building it out because they’re back to the wholesalers. Make it easy for them to buy the products and push that. And that way they get past that B2C problem a bit by making it easier for their wholesalers to get their products.

 

(15:01 – 15:06)

And so they’ve launched in Canada as well. So there’s some great examples we can touch on. And I look forward to hearing more of those examples.

 

(15:09) Let’s talk about trends a little bit here. (15:12) One, thanks for the story. (15:14) And I appreciate, you know, career jumps.

 

(15:17 – 15:33)

I’ve had a few myself. And you’re taking pieces of each of those steps towards the exciting, fast-paced tech space, which is, you know, I…I was getting there. I just took my time.

 

(15:34 – 15:46)

Was it Sheryl Sandberg who says it’s not a career ladder, it’s a career jungle gym, something like that. You work your way across the monkey bars and up and down and around. That’s it, right? Yeah.

 

(15:46 – 15:54)

Sometime we’ll talk about my careers. They’ve been all very different. And by the way, Lance, when I started my career, email was not exterior and Google did not exist.

 

(16:00 – 16:07)

And now I own a digital marketing company. Who knew?I did not study that in college, by the way, because that was not a thing. Exactly.

 

(16:08 – 16:12)

So it’s all fun. So let’s talk about trends. Let’s talk about some trends and what we’re seeing in the B2B business focus.

 

(16:19 – 16:25)

I mean, there’s so much opportunity. Like you said, it’s like a skyrocketing. What are you seeing? Yeah, there is so much opportunity.

 

(16:28 – 16:49)

And part of the reason that there’s so much opportunity is that e-commerce adoption in B2B has been lagging behind B2C for years. The stats vary, but there’s somewhere between 30 and 40% of B2B businesses in the U.S. that aren’t online, that aren’t transacting online. Wow.

 

(16:50 – 17:02)

That’s why, I mean, this was a strategy for us to help B2B businesses to think about this. I mean, and this has been a strategy of ours as of recent because of those numbers. Exactly.

 

(17:02 – 17:28)

And for agencies like yourselves and for e-commerce platforms like BigCommerce, there’s just a huge opportunity here to help really service the market and make it as easy as possible for them to get online. But before that e-commerce adoption piece, B2B trend is fundamental at the moment, is one of digital transformation. A lot of businesses in manufacturing distribution, especially in the mid-market, family-run, still founder-led, but those founders are aging out.

 

(17:35 – 17:53)

They’re either thinking about selling or exiting or moving on to the next generation. Now, as they do that, that next generation or potentially new owners are saying, we have to digitize the production line that you haven’t digitized in 30, 40 years. Yep.

 

(17:53 – 18:12)

Right? No, I have a perfect case study of a client of ours. I visited them there in the Midwest and I went to visit them and they were all paper. I mean, and also the ability to hire all the people who could handle all that paper that they were doing.

 

(18:13 – 18:24)

And I was like, okay, here’s some things we need to change if you want to go this route. And I mean, we worked on an ERP setup because they didn’t have one. We worked through, I mean, and basically everybody’s got to buy in, in the company.

 

(18:31 – 19:10)

And so, and then we were working on actually a big commerce site launch for this company as well. And they are a family-owned manufacturing company that started 70 years ago. So it’s exactly this point that you didn’t start by saying, hey, let’s just build onto big commerce. You started by saying, we’ve got to figure out how we digitize your business before you think you can’t just, and you could, let’s be honest, you could just spin up a big commerce site. You could list some products, you could transact, but it’s not going to tie into an inventory management system and ERP. It’s not going to trigger the production of the product.

 

(19:13 – 19:23)

There’s lots of connective tissue that has to be built. And in order to do that, you need modern systems. And I don’t know what your, what your example is like, but I see custom ERPs left, right, and center that an API doesn’t work.

 

(19:30 – 19:54)

No, they’re on a, they were on something that was built 15 years ago or whatever. I mean, so it was, it was, if you want to change, you’re going to change this too. I mean, so we, and, but now it’s going to change their business and growth and efficiencies and automation. I don’t know, a hundred fold. I mean, you can name it. It’s just going to, it’s going to change their business and they’re excited about it.

 

(19:58 – 21:04)

Exactly. And that’s what’s, you know, this kind of journey that businesses are on about so much more than just the e-commerce, which is the awesome, sexy front end when you, when you, when you get there, but by implementing that new ERP, that new CRM, the PIM that, you know, it’s going to digitize the product data that we now come back to. And it’s same as digitize the product data.

 

You can make the business so much more efficient. And there’s so much low hanging fruit in these businesses that doesn’t exist, you know, in the B2C side anymore. Because B2C, it’s gone.

 

That’s been optimized now. B2C businesses are digitally mature, selling on marketplaces, optimized inventory management, optimized production. If they’re B2C, they’ve got it nailed.

 

And the interesting, just a little tidbit here, it’s interesting. You know, if you, if you look at private equity, I know that’s where I come from. If you look at the trends in private equity, go back three, four, five years, they’re buying B2C, sexy B2C brands. Today, completely different. The dollar value of deals being done by private equity and B2B is like 50% year on year. It’s huge.

 

(21:12 – 22:27)

And that’s because there’s low hanging fruit there. When you purchase from a founder who wants to exit and they haven’t digitized their business, the efficiency gains you can make so quickly by implementing what are their complex changes, but they’re not necessarily hugely expensive and you can reap rewards so quickly. So kind of for me, pillar one of trend is just digital transformation.

 

It sounds so simple, but in B2B as you’re seeing, you’re living, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s still nascent. It is. And we started this, that company I referenced, working with them, I don’t know, five, six years ago, and they didn’t have an e-commerce site at all.

 

So we started, we started, they didn’t, and they, they weren’t ready for those systems just generationally. They were in house. They weren’t ready for the shift, but they’ve still tripled their revenue in the last four years because of just selling online and e-commerce.

 

So we built e-commerce. Now they’re ready to go the next level and they’re jumping on big commerce and, and we’re in there taking the next level, not only on sales online and, and sales to their distributors or partners that exist, but also efficiencies within their organization. So it’s fun to see.

 

(22:33 – 22:56)

Yeah. And that’s kind of the second trend is e-commerce adoption, but it’s e-commerce adoption for the sake of self-serve and automation. You say selling online is not the end goal for B2B.

 

For B2C, I spin up a site, it’s cart, check out conversion rates, time on page, et cetera. No, not B2B. For B2B, as a buyer, I have jobs that I need to do.

 

(23:06 – 23:59)

And I want to do those as efficiently and simply as possible without any friction where I can. That’s what businesses are building online today. We think of it as, it’s an old term, a buyer portal.

 

It’s kind of what an online experience should be like. If I purchase a product in a warehouse, I should see that order online. I should be able to reorder it online.

 

If something was being delivered, I need to be able to track it online. I need to be able to pay my invoice online, services, buy my warranties, everything in between. And that’s what we trend to is that kind of self-serve nature of B2B that is now being built both by mid-market and enterprise B2B businesses.

 

(23:59 – 24:20)

Yep. I saw a stat the other day, I think it was 83% of B2B buyers prefer placing orders or paying for goods on digital, so channels. I mean, 83% is a pretty big number. And so that’s changed. I mean, some of it’s youth expectation, change in leadership of youth, but it’s just an expectation. And if you’re not there, then you’re left behind.

 

(24:26 – 24:56)

I mean, a little bit from a standpoint and losing business. So I think it’s important for people to hear that the expectation and the trends of people out there, they prefer it and almost demand it. Yeah.

 

And I think the important thing there is whilst that 83% may have placed that order online, it doesn’t mean that’s where their journey started. Their journey may have started speaking to a salesperson or at a trade show or insert other channel here, which actually is kind of the other trend. And then kind of my third trend that I like is Omnichannel.

 

(25:04 – 25:26)
 

But to your point, that buying journey has to be seamless across all of those touch points and channels. The sites, your eCommerce sites acts as a central location where that customer can self-serve the data, the information that they need and want, but it doesn’t get rid of your trade shows. It doesn’t replace the sales team.

 

(25:33 – 25:55)
 

It just allows the sales team to up-level themselves and move those mundane offline tasks that they would otherwise have spent hours and hours and hours doing. It makes your sales team more effective and efficient, highly leveraging them to focus on the closing the deal and focusing on upselling. Exactly.

 

(26:01 – 26:32)

 

Cross-sell, upsell, finding new customers. And so for me, that kind of third trend of Omnichannel, I like to say it’s maybe a bit cheesy. Omnichannel for B2B, sorry, got that wrong.

 

B2B was doing Omnichannel before it was cool because they’ve been doing it forever. B2B without really thinking about the term Omnichannel, B2B businesses have had the warehouse, they’ve had the sales team, they’ve been accepting orders through EDI, they’ve been accepting orders through email, through fax, and sometimes online. Yeah.

 

(26:36 – 27:19)
 

And fax. I mean, a lot of them still have fax, which is crazy. That is Omnichannel and we have to be, that is an Omnichannel experience. It’s a channel, not one we want to keep seeing. A lot of paper involved in those channels. Yeah.

 

It’s not an efficient channel, but it was a channel. And when that order came in, and then me as the buyer, I rang up the salesperson. I expected the salesperson to know about that order, that it had come in.

 

Well, today I’m not going to phone up the salesperson. I’m going to log in onto my new site. Hopefully I haven’t sent a fax to place the order, but maybe I have.

 

Maybe it’s an EDI order, right? Electronic Data Interchange. I just sent it through as like an XML file. And I want to log in online and I want to see that order, track it, get updates, reorder it, change the order, request a return, request a refund, all of that happening online.

 

(27:25 – 27:53)

 

So it’s about this seamless buyer journey across all of those channels. And I think that’s really, really important. And the mid-market brands that are coming onto BigCommerce, all the way up to, we’ve got a $6 billion distributor of food, equipment, and packaging that is currently implementing BigCommerce.

 

It’s gone live with a POC as well. And they… It was their first phase. And that’s why they chose BigCommerce.

 

(27:59 – 28:13)

 

They are building a omnichannel experience for their customers, regardless of where you interact. You can hit that site, be that interaction that you have and manage it. And for them, they describe it really well.

(28:21 – 28:32)
 

I think the more seamless they make that journey, the higher the love for their brand and the NPS score for that interaction for their site and their business will be. The more share of wallet that they will get from their customers, the more loyal they will be. Yeah.

 

(28:34 – 28:46)
 

Loyalty. It’ll free up all their sales team and their operations team. Right.

 

And that’s the beauty. That’s the beauty of it. On the customer loyalty, anything… I mean, it just seems like it’s common sense when you make it easier for them to order and you follow up and there’s this automation behind that.

 

(28:51 – 29:15)
 

And there’s follow-up that they’re going to like that better. But any stats or anything you’re seeing on the customer loyalty piece? I don’t have any specific stats, but yeah, it’s…We’re seeing a lot of… A key driver of moving onto e-commerce is that drive for the loyal customer. I think you touched on 87% of the purchases are going to happen online.

 

(29:20 – 29:34) 
 

And I’m going to butcher the stats slightly, but it was a survey, I think a while back, a buyer survey. I think it was an IDC survey that said 50% of B2B buyers would move suppliers if the digital experience didn’t live up to their expectations. I believe that.

 

(29:35 – 29:40) 

 

Wow. Wow. We all believe that. You know it’s true. Yeah. Right.

 

(29:41 – 29:57) 

 

We know it’s true. When I’m purchasing on behalf of big commerce, that interaction had better be simple and easy and quick. Otherwise, I’m going to go somewhere else because that time I could be spending with my family, with my new daughter, doing something…Congratulations, by the way.

 

(29:57 – 30:33)

 

Thank you. Thank you. Not making purchases on behalf of the company. And so it’s a key driver of loyalty. And obviously, there are other ways to ensure loyalty as well. Loyalty programs.

 

And I think personalization helps a lot there, which is actually the 4th pillar of trends that we’re seeing is a lot more customization and personalization in the experience. B2C, we’re used to personalization. We’re used to, have you thought about this product? And we know that product’s being suggested because of all of our history.

 

(30:36 – 31:07)
 

We know we’ve got that email about these specific products that’s different to the email all the other customers got. And it’s based on our purchase history and what they know about us. That’s been happening for years.

 

B2B, it’s kind of new. That’s not been happening that frequently. We’ve got a fantastic business out in the UK that are on big commerce, building supplies.

 

They’re a billion-dollar revenue business. They worked with one of our partners, Bloomreach, and they’ve built a great… They sell construction materials in the UK. And they built a site that has personalization built in.

 

(31:15 – 31:34) 

 

So when I’m trading and I’m purchasing lumber, the screws that are relevant for that lumber come up in the same search. And they also use my search history to make recommendations and to filter that search and organize and order that search. And then obviously, it’s the marketing side too.

 

(31:40 – 31:50)
 

And they’ve seen fantastic results, like 100% increase in average value online. That’s meaningful change for a business. 50% increase in conversion.

 

Meaningful, meaningful change. Game-changing. Game-changing.

 

(31:56 – 32:03)
 

Game-changing because of the personalization that they’ve built into the online experience that they’re offering through big commerce. Right. I mean, that’s what I love.

 

(32:09 – 32:37)
 

I mean, we help lots of different sectors and we’re data. I’m a data nerd. I love helping companies grow and data tells a story.

 

The great thing about e-commerce and B2B commerce, I mean, the segmentation of customers, their merchandising new product launches, the collection of so much data. And now with a lot of tools, we use AI and other tools, I mean, across the board to really hone into that data. I mean, fairly rapidly is exciting.

 

(32:44 – 32:49) 
 

So, I mean, the ability on big commerce to segment your customers and target those on those products. And what you talked about a feedonomics too, the data insights that you get from there. I mean, it’s just, it’s crazy good.

 

(32:56 -33:09)
 

And that’s the thing. Most B2B businesses haven’t had access to that data before. They’ve not been able to analyze which products are most likely being added to a quote, but never being checked out.

 

(33:15 – 33:22)
 

Super interesting data. What can you do with that? Well, so much. And like you said, segmenting customers into specific cohorts to understand their behaviors, what do they react to? Can I offer them specific promotions? Yes, you can.

 

(33:27 – 34:04)
 

Is that going to change their behavior and how much they purchase? Now that’s very B2C like, but we’re learning from the way B2C has done personalization and bringing it into B2B. Now, I’m not going to say that’s right for everyone. If you’re a corrugated iron, steel, metals manufacturer and seller, are you likely to be using that kind of personalization? Maybe, maybe you might be showing the products, you know, they want to search on your homepage and doing, but it’s not personalized discounting seems unlikely.

 

(34:11 – 34:16)
 

But lots of B2B industries where that is super, super relevant. And what’s interesting, I like to tell this kind of anecdote. I mentioned this $60 billion manufacturer of construction materials over in Europe.

 

(34:22 – 34:26)
 

On one of the first calls I got on with them, it was a really great discussion. They told me this kind of, it’s almost a joke of an anecdote, but it really hits home. They had about 70% of their orders come through EDI.

 

(34:32 – 34:37)
 

So they’re just getting a file in and they’re sending the order out. And so why do they want to move online? Well, they want to move from those EDI orders and get their customers logging into a portal. Why? Cross sell.

 

(34:45 – 35:17)

 

And the kind of funny anecdote they told is today we produce cement 1.0 or glass 1.0, glass and cement 1.0. And the SKU has never changed in the past 20 years. And it comes through hundreds of EDI files every day. We’ve built glass 2.0. Glass 2.0 is cheaper, it’s lighter, it’s higher margin for us, but we can’t get our customers to open the email that says, change the SKU in your EDI file, please.

 

You should buy this glass instead. It’ll do the same  job. It’s cheaper for you and better for us.

 
(35:21 – 35:37)
 

And it has all of these great new features. But if we can get them online and as they’re looking at that order, we can show them a fuck up or they’re paying that invoice. And we can show them a pop-up that says, have you thought about this new product? We can start having an impact with merchandising, cross-selling, upselling.

 

(35:43 – 36:19)

 

That was a really kind of funny kind of anecdote. But that’s what they’re looking to achieve. $60 billion business.

 

One of the core reasons for moving online, cross-sell, upsell, and a little bit of personalization. Right. And the piece too, they can adjust to season.

 

I mean, you’re talking about construction, you have seasonal pieces and then you can merchandise based on seasonal pieces of product or products that you have on the shelf that you want to move. So there’s so much opportunity on that cross-selling that people don’t think about. And it’s a game changer for a lot of businesses.

 

(36:27 – 36:41)

 

What are you seeing that, what are these B2B buyers, what else do they care about when you’re talking to some of these folks who are about ready to launch a B2B site? Are there other things we haven’t touched on of what the growth of the B2B buyer online was looking for? Yeah. Yeah. That buyer, it’s an interesting, we always talk about the B2B buyer, but it varies.

 

(36:48 – 37:08) 

 

It’s very different from sector to sector and vertical and the use cases change dramatically. And one of the things I often see is that manufacturers, distributors haven’t sat down and understood what their buyer is actually looking for before they embark on the e-commerce journey. They can often get their implementation wrong.

 

(37:14 – 37:32)

 

It’s not a case of build it and they will come. Just because you’ve built the site doesn’t mean they’re going to come online. And I’m going to omit the company’s name here because it wouldn’t be right to mention them, but a liquor distributor in the US who built a fantastic wholesale site is struggling to get customers to adopt it.

 

(37:37 – 37:43)

 

Why? Because their customers are used to sending an email or speaking to a sales team and they don’t want to change. They don’t want to change. You have to entice those customers online, maybe offering discounts, living with them and understanding.

 

(37:48 – 37:55)

 

Promotions, segmentation of your lists, driving to… Yes. All those types of things. Exactly.

 

(38:00 – 38:13)

 

So your question was, what do buyers want? Well, there’s a few key things you have to tick off to ensure that a buyer at least will think about moving online. One, pricing has to be the same. I can’t log into the site and see a different price to that which I would get if I spoke to the salesperson.

 

(38:17 – 38:34)

 

That includes my contracting price. It includes volume discounting. It includes promotions and everything in between.

 

And that’s really, really important. It sounds so simple. With BigCommerce, we make it as simple as we can with our price list and with promotions engine, etc, etc.

 

But you still have to set it up right and you have to get it right. Yeah. Point two, inventory availability and delivery estimates.

 

(38:44 – 38:54)

 

Really, really important. A buyer… In the stat, we did a survey of about 1000 B2B buyers. One of the top reasons that B2B buyers will leave a checkout is if they can’t get accurate inventory and delivery time estimates.

 

(39:01 – 39:12) 

 

Have to get that stuff right. And for many B2B businesses, you have to get the right options. We’re talking about pay-on-account for the delivery or liftgate fees and new…Shipping costs, whatever that is.

 

(39:16 – 39:47)

 

Voice shipping is always a thing. LTL. How are you facilitating all of that? And we have lots of partners that help to facilitate all of that.

 

And then the third, payments. I also have to be able to pay with the same terms and with the same payment methods online as offline. And that feeds into invoicing as well.

 

B2B buyers, when they hit that checkout, if they pay on 30 days, they need to be able to pay on 30 days through that online portal. The invoice needs to be issued. They should be able to track that online.

 

(39:51 – 40:59) 

That’s what buyers are also looking for. That’s 3 points. They’re very operational.

 

Above that though, buyers want to be educated. They want to be able to find information about your products. It’d be accurate up to date.

 

They want to be able to ask questions about it. And they want you, the manufacturer, the distributor, to be their source of knowledge and expertise and to help guide them. And I think a lot of B2B businesses are missing that today and really need to work on the level and quality of the information on that product, detail pages, their tech specs, etc.

 

Right. And certain things that I know you offer and other from a standpoint of you have reoccurring accounts and that’s easy to have them log in, all that information’s there, that can be set up from a standpoint of ease from the buyer. So that infrastructure, I guess, is the best, I’m not sure if that’s the right word, but the setup is there for these businesses to set it up.

 

(41:04)

 

So that can be consistent. Yeah, exactly. As long as you have your systems offline in place, you can implement those online.

 

(41:09 – 41:26)

 

Yeah, exactly. I think company accounts for the buyer to log in and everyone across the company being able to see those orders, easy reordering, easy returning, requesting that warranty and everything in between. Those are all some of the fundamentals there as well, that buyers are looking for and coming to just expect.

 

(41:30 – 41:35)

 

Right. And those are systems, ERP systems, PIM systems, all those things, whatever. Exactly.

 

(41:40 – 42:11)

 

Everything has to talk to each other to make that happen. And that’s why at BigCommerce, we know that e-commerce is just a piece of the cog, right? Especially more so in B2B than in B2C. We’re a piece of the puzzle.

 

We’re not actually in B2B, the central piece of  the puzzle, usually that’s the ERP. And so BigCommerce is built with open APIs, scalable open APIs that you can hit hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times a minute to travel and send data back and forth between all of those systems. Because that’s what a B2B business needs.

 

(42:18 – 42:33)

 

That’s how they operate. But complex pricing, getting the inventory and so much more. So we’ve really tried to… That’s in the core of our DNA is being this open SaaS platform that allows you to take all of those other great best of breed providers and plug them into BigCommerce.

 

(42:40 – 43:03)

 

Right. And everybody’s talking to one another. And that’s a beautiful thing.

 

And you find efficiencies with that. Because when you don’t have those connectors or an ERP system that connects with an e-commerce site, which we have clients who were there and we’re trying to get them there, there’s a lot of… I think I told you a lot of paper being printed and emails being shared. Without an input, somebody doing data entry.

 

(43:08 – 43:35)

 

But when you have the beautiful system in place, that can seamlessly happen without more staff. And there’s a lot of work that takes, you know, just required to make it seamless. I’m not here saying…No.

 

No, it does. You just flick a switch and it’s all seamless. We work with fantastic people like Roof Digital to make that happen in BigCommerce agencies.

 

We’re adding products as we speak right now to sites. On ERP systems too. Yeah.

 

(43:36 – 43:50)

 

And making sure they’re all consistent. Yeah. Consistent signing, consistent naming, consistent voice.

 

All of that. And, you know, you’ve got to handle that in a lot of businesses today. They do.

 

(43:51 – 43:53)

 

Already. And they need a lot of help to do it. Yeah.

 

(44:00 – 44:16)

 

And what other trends are you seeing for the future of B2B e-commerce? I mean, we didn’t talk about mobile, but people are buying on their phones mostly. I mean, that’s a given. What other trends are you seeing? Yeah.

 

On the mobile side, I see kind of a little bit of a move away from the mobile app and towards a site that just is mobile friendly. Yes. Which obviously, you know, for us, that’s out of the box.

 

(44:21 – 44:31)

 

But creating a mobile app now, I’ve got, I don’t know, 200, 300 apps on my phone. I don’t want another one for something specific. App is absurd.

 

I would agree. That’s going down. Mobile-friendly websites, which BigCommerce is by far across multiple browsers.

 

(44:35) 

 

Yeah. You have to be mobile-friendly. Otherwise, it’s sort of a non-starter.

 

(44:40 – 44:51) 

 

I was on a site the other day, and it said, this site doesn’t work on your size screen. What? I’ve not seen that for how long? What do you mean? I’m on an iPhone. Yeah.

 

Text me that site. I’ll give them a call. I’ll see if I can help them out.

 

(44:55 – 45:17) 

 

Exactly. This can’t be right. Obviously, the other trend, and we’ve managed to get this far through a podcast.

 

Now, Ecommerce was out talking about AI. But AI is going to revolutionize B2B, I think more than B2C. Everything.

 

(45:22 – 45:37)

 

I mean, I don’t know. We use it. I mean, not only, I mean, yes, organizations like ours are using it from a data standpoint, analyzing data.

 

You can put in large data sets and you can come up with, okay, here’s three things you should do. And heck, you can write sales letters. You can write, I mean, you got to bring the people into it.

 

(45:42 – 46:03)

 

You just can’t put it in. I had a podcast the other day about how to do AI imaging, create images. And it’s still a baby.

 

So AI is still fairly young. It’s been around more than people know. We’ve been using tools for a good handful of years, but now it’s the last year.

 

It’s on everybody. Like you said, we got through 40, 50 minutes without saying it. And that’s a miracle.

 
 

(46:07 – 46:16) 

 

Exactly. But there are going to be some really cool innovations, I think, for B2B. Product descriptions and cleansing of product data is a big one.

 

(46:20 – 46:57) 

 

Bionomics has been using AI since before most people were crazy about AI. Exactly. Or called it AI, ML.

 

And they, to cleanse product data, but writing that product data, I think it’s now where we’re going to see, especially in the distribution space, where you’ve got hundreds of thousands of SKUs from different manufacturers, all written in a slightly different voice and non-uniformity, you can create that uniformity really easily and quickly with AI. Things like, we’re working on a big Thomas AI quoting. So how long does it take a salesperson to respond to a quote? 2, 3, 4, 5 minutes a quote.

 

(47:04 – 47:39) 

 

Well, what if AI had rewritten, pre-written the response to that quote, and the salesperson just checks it for accuracy? Well, that’s what we think should happen. And that’s one of the areas that we think sales teams spend the most time that could be easily improved by AI. And so we’re working on that right now.

 

And then on the bleeding edge, we’ve got tech partners that are building search that is LLM AI powered. So imagine I want to build a house. And in that house, I need to put an HVAC system.

 

(47:47 – 48:04)

 

Instead of searching for the pieces for the HVAC unit itself, and then all the ducting, maybe I get to a stage where I just upload the architectural diagrams for the house, suggest three HVAC systems I can implement with all of the ancillary parts and pieces that I need. And then I’m just going to make a decision. And that seems far-fetched.

 

(48:11 – 48:29)

 

But the proof of concepts I’ve seen from some of our partners working on this, we’re really not that far away from at least some of that being possible. And that’s going to completely change the way the buyer interacts with you. And that’s before we get on to Internet of Things and connected machinery and everything in between.

 

(48:36 – 48:48)

 

Or maybe we’ll all be wearing Apple Vision Pros in the factory when they’re making in, oh, that part looks a little bit old and worn. We just automatically reorder the new ones, stuff like that. I think there’s so much greatness coming, I think.

 

(48:52 – 49:24)

 

There is. Yeah, it shocks me every time, almost daily, about the ability that we’re seeing. And like I said, it’s just getting started.

 

And so, I mean, obviously, it’s going to hit a lot of different markets. But I think, you know, these industries we’ve been talking about, the efficiencies that can be had by it and embrace it as a tool. I mean, you know, people, there are folks who are scared of it.

 

(49:28 – 49:45)

 

And look, there’s bad guys who are going to do things with every technology we develop. From my perspective, this is my perspective, but the opportunities for efficiency and it’s just, I don’t even know if I can visualize what that’s going to, how efficiencies are going to be had through AI. Yeah.

 

(49:51 – 50:00)

 

What’s that sort of saying? We as humans, we overestimate the short term impact of the technology, but greatly underestimated in the long run. I think that’s exactly what we’re seeing here. You know, this isn’t in the next two years, but in the next five to 10 years, what we’re going to see is truly incredible.

 

(50:08 – 50:30) 

 

From the sales team, to the back office teams, to the automation of the production of the product itself, and the way you optimize that production of the products too, and predictive analytics for inventory and ordering. I mean, yeah, the sky’s the limit, really. When you’ve got huge sets of data, like you do in B2B, you can do so much with it.

 

(50:36 – 51:00)

 

Right. I mean, we’ve hit on customer experience. We’ve talked about how it’s going to elevate sales.

 

We’ve talked about kind of integrations and the opportunities with those integrations, like a little bit of data piece. We talked a little bit about supply chain and logistics and how that kind of changes the game of that. All those pieces of B2B, I mean, every piece of business, the piece that we really didn’t talk a lot about, which we can do another time when we get Connect, maybe security and compliance, but that’s a thing that I know you guys are out front on.

 

(51:08 – 52:37)

 

Yeah. It’s funny you mentioned that. I’m glad you bring that up, Stacey, because I forget about it, because I can, because we have such a great track record for security and compliance.

 

We have an amazing team. All they think about all day is securing the data for our customers, ensuring that them and their end buyers are secure and safe, and they do a fantastic, fantastic job. So I almost forget to mention it, but you’re spot on.

 

It is key. And especially when you’re looking at maybe an open source platform or considering it, or you’re on one, security is really expensive, especially in today’s world, if you’re the one that has to upkeep, patch, and ensure the secrecy of the data that your customers are putting in. And at BigCommerce, we’re doing that for our 8,000 plus B2B customers and our 60,000 plus total customers.

 

You get the scale of our incredible, incredible team, which is, yeah, hugely, hugely beneficial. I just forget about it, Stacey, but you’re spot on. Well, it’s one of those things, and we deal with it.

 

I mean, we have sites across different types of platforms, and it’s something that you are always staying ahead of the bad guys. And if you have the benefit of numbers and expertise, you mitigate those primary security concerns that come up. But we are in a digital world, and those pieces are part of the formula.

 

(52:44 – 52:59) 

 

But if you’re not in the digital space, then you’re missing out on millions of dollars on the table. So it’s just part of the world we live in. And like you said, your infrastructure and your platform, you have the team behind you to take care of that.

 

(53:03 – 53:20) 

 

We have the ISOs and the SOCs and the three-letter acronyms that I can’t remember to back up the level of security that we offer. But you’re right. It’s a very good point.

 

When B2B businesses first move online, it’s an area of trepidation. It’s an area of concern. How do I ensure the data is going to be secure? And you shouldn’t really have to worry about that.

 

(53:26 – 53:37) 

 

And that’s why SaaS software as a whole, where someone else is worrying about that, it’s their concern and their reputation on the line. And they hire the best people in the industry to secure 60,000 customers. That’s kind of the best backing that you can get.

 

(53:42 – 53:50)

 

Absolutely. Absolutely. So that’s a good one to hit on.

 

(53:50 – 54:17)

 

Anything else? One, thank you. We’ve been talking here for an hour and I appreciate your time. This is the Proofpoint podcast.

 

Is there a point that you want to make sure you hit home for our B2B customers out there? Yeah, I think so. We didn’t really touch on how does a business… We spoke about digitization, how to approach eCommerce more generally, and where does big commerce fit in. We’re a great platform for mid-market B2Bs and enterprise B2Bs.

 

(54:25 – 54:39)

 

Both approach eCommerce in a crawl, walk, run fashion. Slowly implementing products online first, then a partner checkout, then quoting, then invoicing, then buyer approval workflows, and those steps. In the mid-market, we’ve built a suite of eCommerce tools that are ready and out of the box and easy to deploy.

 

(54:47 – 55:07)

 

It’s built into the buyer interface that you get when you spin up a big commerce B2B store. And it includes that invoice portal, the quotes, the buyer approval workflows, company logins. But what we’ve done, which is different to our competitors, is we’re a SaaS platform, but we’ve taken that front end and we’ve open-sourced it.

 

(55:12 – 56:04)

 

And so when you need to customize it, you can. So when you’re an enterprise, that large $6 billion revenue distributor of food packaging I mentioned, they can take that source code and that is their starting point and customize it how they need. That buyer portal is plugged into all of the great GraphQL APIs that are powering.

 

It enables you as a business to get online faster and service your customers better. In the mid-market, get online fast with something that out of the box is going to work. And then when you need to customize it, you can because it’s there and readily available.

 

For the enterprise, you can customize it from day one. You can build it headlessly. You can build it natively.

 

It’s ready and available for you to start that eCommerce journey or mature your eCommerce journey. That’s a great point to end on. And I’ll just kind of give your team kudos on that because we, as we’ve become, we’re a big eCommerce partner.

 

(56:11 – 56:46) 

 

And the one piece that I loved about your company is the tech support that you all have. And everything’s moving quickly. And that is just a differentiator, I definitely think, for big eCommerce, from my perspective.

 

So congrats on that. Yeah, I appreciate that. And we hear that from customers too.

 

You know, the support that we’re able to give both our partners, you know, we have a 24-7 support team that are available on phone to all of our customers. And our average answer time, I believe it’s about eight seconds. That’s quick.

 

(56:46 – 57:08) 

 

There are not many platforms that offer that level of support to all of their customers, not just their largest, shiniest ones, but all of them. And we do because we want B2C, D2C, manufacturers, distributors that are building on eCommerce to be successful. And we’re with them for that journey.

 

(57:11 – 57:16)

 

That’s awesome. Well, we’ve been talking to Lance Owide with BigCommerce. Lance, thank you so much for being on the Proof Point podcast.

 

(57:20 – 57:26)

 

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. Thanks for listening to the Proof Point podcast.

 

We’ll see you again next time, and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.

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