SAP Hybris recently commissioned a Total Economic Impact (TEI) study from Forrester to study the potential financial impact of their Commerce Cloud for B2B—the potential costs and benefits associated with implementing a digital commerce platform for B2B organizations. The study takes a deep dive into both areas—some easy to quantify, some not—basing their assessment on customer interviews and surveys. You can download the study to see Forrester’s approach to developing an ROI model and more granular details, numbers, and insights. Here, though, let’s discuss at a higher level the components for building the ROI case for digital B2B commerce.
A simple ROI case involves looking at the potential costs and benefits of a proposed solution. Subtract the costs from the benefits, and you have your net benefit, or your ROI.
For many B2B companies, digital presence is limited to a catalog-style website. There is no ability to purchase without working directly with a salesperson. And while this is the current industry norm, we are seeing a long-term transformation taking place where B2C practices are influencing the B2B market. B2B customers want the same level of 24/7 support and self-service with you that they get from Amazon. So, what does it cost to take that leap into a digital commerce platform?
For starters, you have the cost of the software platform itself. This number may vary based on your company’s needs, but it will be pretty easy to get.
In addition to the solution itself, you’ll probably need to account for specific customizations. B2B is complex and nuanced, and you’ll likely need some amount of tailoring before the platform is optimized for you. You also need to consider the implementation costs, and the expenses associated with utilizing an implementation partner. And finally, there is the cost of tech personnel to manage and maintain the software.
All these numbers are pretty straightforward. And while they may bring a little bit of sticker shock, the potential value they provide will often vastly outweigh them. Let’s consider.
1. Salesforce productivity
One of the biggest benefits of a digital commerce platform for B2B organizations is that it enables sales personnel to work smarter, not harder. It does this a couple different ways.
The digital commerce platform automates numerous administrative tasks and enables customer self-service in many capacities. Customers can check the status of their orders, manage orders, and even do product research without needing to call your sales staff. This frees your team up to focus on what they do best: selling. In doing so, you’ll find that each salesperson is able to nurture more relationships overall, increasing the revenue coming in without the need for extra headcount.
2. Promotion, recommendation, merchandising, and personalization capabilities
When customers place their orders online, you can use the platform and its understanding of the customer to promote products, services, and add-ons that are relevant to them or their order, increasing their average order value.
Adding a digital channel allows you to address new, lower-margin segments that otherwise didn’t make sense for you to target. By marketing to smaller organizations in the digital channel and directing them to self-service capabilities, engaging them won’t require the time and energy of a salesperson. You have very little to lose, and everything to gain.
3. More consistent branding and accurate product information
This benefit is a bit more difficult to quantify, but that does not negate its value. Consistent customer experiences—branding, pricing, user experience—improves the implicit trust a customer places in you. Making it easy and predictable to do business with you will keep them coming back.
Also, having accurate, consistent product information on your site can improve your SEO, making it easier for potential customers to find you in the first place.
4. Differentiation by offering a digital channel
As I mentioned earlier, digital commerce is not yet the standard for B2B companies. But customers see the value and ease of use of shopping online in their personal lives and are asking for those same capabilities from B2B sellers. Simply by offering a digital commerce channel, you will set yourself apart in the market.
5. Drastic reduction (if not elimination) of the costs related to paper-based catalogs
With your entire catalog on your digital platform, you will no longer need to develop paper catalogs for your customers. Plus, the digital library is significantly easier to update and maintain as-needed.
For those looking to replace their legacy platforms, implementing newer, more modern technology will lower the cost of technology maintenance overall. By implementing an agile, extendable commerce platform, you can reduce both cost and energy of maintenance of older, more cumbersome legacy systems.
Once you take an honest look at the numbers as they relate to your company, both for costs and benefits, you can build a solid ROI case for an investment digital commerce platform.
For more guidance in the process, download the Forrester TEI Study.