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B2B E-Commerce Systems: Leading Selection Practices

High-ROI enterprise technology investments require a collaborative effort, and the tax function is a valuable member of the team. This holds true across a range of systems and companies, including business-to-business (B2B) organizations investing in e-commerce technology.

Vertex recently teamed up with Magento, an Adobe company that provides cloud commerce innovation to business-to-consumer (B2C) and B2B companies, and Guidance, a digital commerce service provider and systems integration company, to publish an eBook that helps B2B decision-makers assess their company’s e-commerce readiness and then work collaboratively to optimize the selection and implementation of a B2B e-commerce system.

In this guest post, Guidance Commerce Strategist and Advisor Brian Beck – who is also the author of the book “Billion Dollar B2B e-commerce” – runs through leading selection practices. 

Enhancing the Customer Experience through E-Commerce

In this Playbook, industry pros weigh in on best practices and strategies for B2B companies beginning to sell online.

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The most effective e-commerce technology selection processes tend to proceed in a coordinated and collaborative manner. Buyers work through a number of selection activities and then leverage this work to create and execute an implementation game plan; some of these selection activities include:

  • Documenting your requirements: We promote the use of “Requirements Documentation,” a disciplined approach through which all requirements for the e-commerce system are identified and documented. Typical items on this comprehensive list include rundowns of what the application should do for customers, the other information systems the application will integrate and/or share data with, what groups and individuals within the company will interact with the application and much more. The list of customer capabilities includes specific types of functionality, such as accelerated check-out options; configure, price quote options; customer pricing; and more.
  • Meeting contractual obligations: Most B2B companies have unique pricing, sales channel and services arrangements with each customer. These agreements have been carefully negotiated. An e-commerce system must reflect and adhere to all of these unique contractual obligations.
  • Addressing current and future needs: A B2B e-commerce solution should adapt to support new needs as a company grows and undergoes other changes. This flexibility applies to all of the solution’s internal functionality, as well as to functionality enabled through integrations with other applications, such as sales and use tax automation. Tax rates change constantly, so updates to the tax rules that apply to online transactions should be managed as quickly, accurately and conveniently as possible.
  • Building a compelling business case: An effective business case addresses high-level business objectives while identifying specific return on investment (ROI) metrics. Three types of ROI metrics are often included in business cases for an e-commerce system:
  1. Revenue lift: These measures focus on sales increases among existing customers through various enablers, including boosts to average order volume (AOV);
  2. New customers: These measures focus on the acquisition of new customers (often including those who currently cannot be reached through existing sales and marketing channels or have lapsed for a significant or predetermined amount of time); and
  3. Shift: These measures address the shifting of revenue-generating activity from higher-cost channels (e.g., in-person sales) to lower-cost channels (e.g., a website or mobile sales). The buying expectation in B2B is self-service. It is incumbent of brands, manufacturers and distributors to meet this demand, and It is in their best interest to do so.

In today’s crowded B2B marketplace, buyers demand an easy, intuitive online buying and account management experience, and if you can’t meet these demands, your competitors will. These are best practices which can be used to assess your company’s e-commerce readiness and implement a robust and cost efficient B2B e-commerce channel.

Please remember that the Tax Matters provides information for educational purposes, not specific tax or legal advice. Always consult a qualified tax or legal advisor before taking any action based on this information.


About this Contributor

Brian Beck Headshot
Brian Beck
Guidance Commerce Strategist and Advisor

Brian Beck is Commerce Strategist and Advisor at Guidance, where he advises industry leaders on driving rapid growth through digital transformation. He has more than 20 years of experience, including more than a decade as a C-level e-Commerce executive. Previously, Brian served as Interim VP of e-Commerce at PacSun, VP e-Commerce for Harbor Freight, and held executive roles at OvernightPrints, Costume Supercenter, and Broadspan Commerce.

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