B2B eCommerce Investment and Strategy in 2018 and Beyond

December 19, 2017

In order to add context and boost the comprehensiveness of Gorilla Group’s third annual B2B eCommerce Benchmarking Report, and better understand clients’ future goals, we conducted an exclusive client-side survey of B2B executives new for this year. The survey was distributed online to approximately 40 clients, and all answers have been kept anonymous. The results demonstrate the steady growth and pervasiveness of eCommerce in B2B selling environments, but also confirm there are still many digital laggards in the industry who are slow to adopt best practices and struggle to allocate budget and make significant investments due to a multitude of competing initiatives.

All data collected is presented with analysis below.

1. What percentage of sales do you currently transact through your eCommerce channel?

The varied results show the survey targeted a range of companies, with about half transacting the majority of their sales online, and the other half transacting less than 20% online. This split echoes Gorilla’s industry understanding that not every organization, B2B or otherwise, will be fully invested and ‘all in’ on eCommerce as the only method of transacting orders. However, we anticipate those laggards to shift their online sales proportions to be more in line with what their digital-focused counterparts are achieving in the coming years.

Key Takeaway: The majority of B2B clients transact more than 50% of their revenue through digital channels today, however, there are still many stragglers slow to adopt digital best practices to facilitate sales.

2. What percent of your budget do you intend to invest in eCommerce in the coming year?

Less than 10% of survey respondents say that they plan to dedicate more than 50% of their budget to eCommerce in 2018, and none say they’ll spend more than 60% on eCommerce investments. These results indicate that there are significant competing initiatives that digital commerce executives are taking note of and focusing their attention on. Gorilla has noticed some companies have elected to delay eCommerce projects due to other capital expenditures (such as building a new fulfillment center) or IT infrastructure (such as replatforming their ERP system). These results align with our Benchmarking Report results and indicate that certain user experience enhancements, such as responsive design, haven’t reached the level of saturation within the market that we might expect, given their well-documented benefits.

Takeaway: Competing corporate projects could determine digital commerce success or failure.

3. In 2018, eCommerce investments will be allocated to which of the following areas?

According to the B2B business leaders surveyed, IT and Marketing departments will continue to fight for eCommerce project budget allocation in the coming year. For the purposes of this survey, Marketing Functions can be defined as initiatives, typically front-end-focused, that drive users and revenue through the system. Infrastructure expenses and initiatives can be identified as integrations, scaling and “keeping the lights on” maintenance of existing applications. In order to reconcile these competing forces, Gorilla recommends establishing a digital transformation committee with members of both Marketing and IT teams to ensure all voices are being heard and there is not one siloed department that runs the show.

Takeaway: IT and Marketing teams within B2B organizations should work together to establish a joint digital transformation “committee” to avoid competing for budget and resources.

4. Which eCommerce channel initiatives do you plan to invest in 2018? (Check all that apply)

Whether you are selling in a B2C or B2B capacity, there’s a person at the end of every transaction. Knowing who they are, what their challenges are, and what motivates their purchase decisions is critical to effectively meeting their needs, and there remains a great opportunity in the B2B space to effectively market and sell to buyers with a UX-centered approach. Our results indicate that for most survey respondents, content and marketing and personalization fall squarely at the top of their investment priorities. This echoes our expectations and is the driving force behind our recent whitepaper, The Continued Evolution of B2B ECommerce: Customer Experience Management, which discusses how B2B companies that have implemented eCommerce are now looking to further monetize and drive revenue through the channel with content and personalization.

Takeaway: Content can draw new customers and capture more revenue from existing B2B buyers.

5. How important is social media to your eCommerce strategy?

More than 80% of survey respondents indicated that social media is important or very important. These results signal that traditional direct-to-consumer marketing vehicles and initiatives, like establishing engaging social media channels, should not be ignored for B2B audiences. However, certain B2C engagement techniques, such as offering time-sensitive discount codes, or leveraging brand ambassadors to promote products, might not be well-suited for a business-oriented audience. For that reason, Gorilla recommends researching and examining key social media best practices, and, over time, tweaking them to best target your B2B audience.

Takeaway: B2B companies should not ignore social channels, but should tweak certain best practices to align with a business-oriented audience.

About Gorilla Group

Combining award-winning website design, development, strategy, post-launch managed services and hosting, Gorilla Group delivers innovative eCommerce solutions to B2B and direct-to-consumer brands across industries. Headquartered in Chicago, with offices around the world, Gorilla has unmatched expertise creating unique, functional shopping experiences that connect brands with their customers, producing better ROI through the digital channel. That’s why Gorilla is a Smarter Species of Commerce. Find us on Twitter: @gorillacommerce