E-commerce is exploding, in both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) markets. For instance, eMarketer expects B2C e-commerce to grow 20% this year to support $1.5 trillion of purchases worldwide. Forrester projected that B2B e-commerce in the U.S. alone reached $559 billion in 2013. Meanwhile, Gartner identified e-commerce as the number two technology priority across the C-suite.
These are big numbers. So why all the attention now? While there is more experience, skilled talent and advanced technology today versus 10 years ago, it really comes down to hard business benefits driving corporate e-commerce adoption. Enterprises are fighting to gain any advantage necessary to survive and succeed in volatile and competitive markets.
And e-commerce today presents substantial opportunities to realize improvements in four critical, related areas: Market coverage, revenue growth, sales velocity and selling costs.
1. Market Coverage
With entire generations of consumers growing up on the internet, it is a necessity for many B2C enterprises to offer online shopping to reach key demographics. E-commerce also provides an efficient means for entering unfamiliar, overseas markets and in building mindshare and clienteles in places where it is difficult to build a ground presence.
Moreover, e-commerce allows enterprises to centralize support for partners and distributors. Content, product catalogs, pricing and promotions can be managed from a central point, while partners are spared having to deploy software on desktops (like in the old client/server days).
2. Revenue Growth
Topline growth is a perpetual, paramount concern of the corporate world. With e-commerce, businesses can raise growth rates by selling variations of products more easily to different customer segments. With online configuration, well-designed product catalogs, recommendation engines and other capabilities, it is possible to deliver mass customization and raise sales volumes by appealing to larger numbers of more diverse customers. Significantly, these capabilities also help lift revenues per order and customer too with cross-selling and up-selling.
3. Sales Velocity
Companies are not just concerned with selling more, but also selling faster. E-commerce expedites sales by offering greater convenience and personalization in buying experiences. Visitors can easily navigate sites, review items and move to check out processes and place orders. With online configuration, complex products like equipment can be sourced just like simple saleable items, like dog food. Plus, mobile commerce enables shopping and purchases to take place anytime, anywhere.
4. Selling Costs
E-commerce provides an online channel that can complement or replace physical locations and expensive sales people. By successfully offering a high level of self-service and automation, companies can dramatically lower selling costs associated with personnel, maintaining locations and human errors. Inventory costs can also be reduced.
With the high visibility of e-commerce in the C-suite, enterprises need to clearly understand and prioritize the benefits that best advance their strategies and business models. Evaluating these four hard benefits represents a good starting point. Follow this link to learn more about pursuing an e-commerce solution on Salesforce.