According to Shad Stalians, Oracle’s Senior product marketing manager, for a year now the ecommerce has seen a huge growth, especially for B2B companies that had traditionally been slow to adapt.

Many organizations have been able to quickly rotate and expand access to their digital channels or, in some cases, establish them for the first time. But how long will this transformation last? Was it the beginning of a long-term path to success or simply a short-term solution?

In a recent report published by Oracle and Mirakl, more than 60 ecommerce B2B executives and B2B professionals were interviewed to better understand this moment and the future of B2B business.

Some of the results were illuminating. For example, while 60% of B2B companies have had moderate to severe impact on their business due to the pandemic, 53% expect to continue to suffer impact until 2023. A quick solution will not solve such a long challenge and customers will not settle for anything less than what they receive today. So, what’s next?

Digital is not an option but a necessity

The digital transformation has long been as evident as it was ignored. Before the pandemic, companies often considered the functionality of self-service ecommerce B2B pleasant to have, but not mission critical. The pandemic changed all this.

According to some estimates, digital commerce has only been up 10 years in the first months of 2020. This ability to adapt has transformed B2B trade at a critical time, creating resilience in the face of uncertainty. As customers gained more comfort and the ability to work smarter, B2B companies laid the foundations for a digitally enabled future.

Looking to the future, many B2B companies are now in a better position to take advantage of strategies and tactics that until recently were only available for mature organizations.

These revolutionary approaches include going directly to the consumer to launch subscription models, exploit markets and incorporate advanced technologies.

These strategies will not only help companies meet the expectations of buyers in the future, but will also provide tools to evolve beyond the reactive transformation. The important thing now is not to lose momentum.

Customer experience to bridge the gap

Apart from recent progress, the complexity of digital commerce for B2B has left many companies behind years compared to customers’ expectations. For example, only 26% of Oracle’s companies have the tools and technologies to customize their experiences today, although almost two thirds of B2B buyers have expressed the importance of custom recommendations in 2018.

Although the pandemic has accelerated the expectations of buyers, many of the key challenges for companies have remained the same. Almost half of the companies interviewed acknowledged that insufficient technological resources and less sophisticated business operations and planning systems continue to hinder progress when it comes to meeting customers’ expectations.

These challenges will not be solved by temporary measures. On the contrary, success depends on a thorough examination of the main systems to identify where critical data exist within the organisation, which other systems are based on that data and how these data are used. This goes beyond the customer profile data and extends to the ERP, supply chain, order management process, product and price data and more. The unification of this data creates the opportunity for guided purchasing experiences on digital channels that best meet the expectations of customers.

Investing in the B2B ecommerce

For Oracle we will not return to the way we lived before the pandemic. Customers are building new relationships with companies that meet their needs. And these companies are gaining valuable experience repeating their intelligent sales capabilities that link sales and trade with core business solutions.

The ability to grow beyond this moment will generate a lasting customer loyalty that goes beyond simple comfort, building confidence and creating a path towards more mature and connected experiences.

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