Written by Shawn Belling | Jan 12, 2016
Those familiar with internal combustion engines know that turbocharging involves recycling hot exhaust gas from the engine to spin a turbo. When I read a recent LinkedIn post about how Apttus was “turbocharging” eCommerce, the “hot gas” analogy seemed especially “apt.”
Let’s cut to the chase: You can’t bolt a shopping cart onto a CPQ system and call it “eCommerce.” While CPQ functionality can have a place in many enterprises’ digital strategies, it is a sales enablement function with internally focused use cases. The problem with extending CPQ to eCommerce is that it’s a Band-Aid approach that throws together barebones, piecemeal eCommerce functionality that simply can’t cut it in an enterprise B2B sales environment.
A true B2B eCommerce solution recognizes that the user experience belongs first with the customer, not the sales department. The customer wants to browse products, learn about promotions, receive specialized pricing and create carts. When it’s time to re-order, the customer wants a seamless process that recognizes past purchases and makes it easy to buy again, with the sales or service department ready to provide input or support if necessary. It may sound simple because buyers have been transacting this way in the B2C space for years – but B2B eCommerce is much more complex.
To build an engine that supports the heavy lifting involved in enterprise B2B eCommerce, you must start with a design that will provide the required horsepower from the beginning. The number of B2B buyers who will complete at last half of their purchases online will double to 56% by 2017, according to Forrester Research. Organizations that process millions or billions of dollars in annual sales can’t risk implementing an add-on eCommerce tool that is a veiled extension of the CPQ functionality. This shortcut approach places your customer on the back burner and will only set you further back from your competitors that make eCommerce their priority.
Why Your Platform Must Have eCommerce in its DNA
When evaluating eCommerce platforms, look for a product with eCommerce in its DNA. This includes the data model, feature set, and an extensive architecture that accounts for current and future eCommerce scenarios. You need an engine that has horsepower to spare without the need to bolt on a slow-to-spin up (heard of “turbo lag?”) auxiliary power unit.
Find a powerful enterprise eCommerce platform by focusing your attention on systems that are designed and built for eCommerce, and have a customer point of view. From day one, experts design these systems to handle the myriad of use cases presented by B2B and B2C eCommerce and to scale up to high browsing and transaction volumes. Your best choice will be enterprise eCommerce systems that can be implemented quickly to handle immediate browsing and purchasing scenarios, while maintaining a reserve of power and capability to meet future growth.
Turbocharging sounds sexy. But keep in mind that turbocharging is often used to provide boost to an otherwise underpowered engine and to avoid building the more powerful and responsive engine that the situation really needs.
Interested in learning more about your eCommerce options? Register for our complimentary webinar, “eCommerce on Salesforce: The Facts,” featuring Forrester Research, Ecolab and Internet Retailer on 1/14 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT: Webinar – Guest Speakers Forrester Research and Ecolab Join CloudCraze to Present eCommerce on Salesforce: The Facts