Kibo CEO Ram Venkataraman was recently featured on The Hard Truth About B2B eCommerce Podcast, where he dives into the unique challenges and best practices for B2B eCommerce.
You can listen to the episode here or read the recap below to learn:
- The top challenges manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors face
- Critical commerce and order management capabilities needed for B2B commerce
- Why a multi-channel approach through composable commerce and an order management system can help scale business operations
Embracing Composable Commerce in B2B
The value of composability in B2B lies in its flexibility. It empowers businesses to cherry-pick best-of-breed solutions from various providers, a concept that many are already unknowingly embracing. For instance, Shopify often integrates with numerous apps, creating a composable site with distinct functionalities.
However, composable solutions might not be suitable for all businesses. Smaller enterprises with limited complexity might find the traditional monolithic approach sufficient. As companies grow in size and complexity, the case for adopting a composable approach becomes more compelling.
A key consideration when embarking on the composable journey is the sophistication of the IT organization. Businesses must be willing to navigate the challenges of integrating multiple components and potentially resolving issues that arise between these connections. The benefits of composability, including accelerated innovation and access to specialized solutions, often outweigh these challenges.
Ultimately, the composable approach allows businesses to tap into the expertise of different vendors for specific components of their operation, leading to more efficient and effective solutions. This approach recognizes that not all vendors excel in every aspect, encouraging businesses to make strategic choices based on their unique needs and priorities. Composability is shaping the future of the market by offering tailor-made, flexible solutions that can adapt to evolving business requirements.
Taking a Composable Approach to Order Management
ECommerce is a multifaceted domain, encompassing various elements like cart and checkout, payment processing, and order management. While all these components are crucial, order management stands out as a major piece of the puzzle.
The composable approach to order management is particularly beneficial for businesses, as it allows them to assemble specialized solutions from different vendors businesses and enhance various aspects of their operations, ultimately leading to a more competitive edge in the market.
Accurate order management data, including inventory information and fulfillment time estimates, provides customers with a seamless shopping experience. This data helps shoppers and buyers access real-time inventory details, locate products within physical stores, and even check for product availability within specific geographical regions.
OMS also plays a vital role in online marketplaces and omnichannel commerce. Integrating with various marketplaces and efficiently managing inventory distribution is a crucial feature. For instance, businesses can leverage their inventory engine to segment products and sell them on external marketplaces like Amazon.
The Build vs. Buy Dilemma in B2B
For most B2B companies, the consensus was that buying technology solutions is often the wiser choice, especially if they lack the in-house expertise and resources to develop competitive technology.
The decision to build or buy hinges on several factors, including a company’s technological sophistication and the presence of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO). While some organizations may have custom-built ERPs and specialized technology, the general advice leans towards buying prebuilt solutions to avoid reinventing the wheel.
One fundamental principle discussed in the podcast was the “core vs. context” management philosophy. It’s a guiding principle to help businesses decide whether to build or buy. The concept is simple: if a technology is core to a business’s identity and adds a unique differentiator, it’s worth building. Conversely, if it’s not a core aspect and others can provide it effectively, buying is the smarter choice.
For instance, a B2B business primarily focused on distributing products should not attempt to differentiate itself through custom software. Instead, they should invest in solutions that enable efficient operations and growth.
Automation, AI, and Machine Learning
The future of eCommerce is inextricably linked to the evolution of machine learning and generative AI. As consumers continue to drive change, businesses must leverage these technologies to enhance their operations, meet customer preferences, and remain competitive in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
Innovation in Inventory Management
One area primed for innovation is inventory management. Tying customer demand insights to predicting inventory velocity and making intelligent routing decisions can streamline operations. The podcast emphasized that while inventory management is crucial, it remains an area with untapped potential in the market.
Enhancing Product Discovery
Product discovery is another realm where innovation is ongoing. Many companies are actively working on intelligent solutions to improve the way customers discover products. The podcast teased an upcoming product announcement in this space, suggesting that businesses are continually seeking ways to enhance the product discovery experience for consumers.
Generative AI and Customer Service
Generative AI, including technologies like ChatGPT, is becoming increasingly relevant, not just for consumer experiences but also for call centers and customer service. One notable approach discussed involved using generative AI to rewrite scripts and then testing these scripts with actual human interactions. This iterative process aims to find more effective ways to engage and assist customers.
A Deep Dive into Pricing, Promotions, and Subscription Models
Many eCommerce businesses are recognizing the value of subscription-based models, which ensure repeat orders and customer loyalty. However, integrating subscription services into eCommerce platforms is not always straightforward. In many cases, popular platforms like Shopify, Adobe Commerce, and BigCommerce rely on third-party apps to enable subscriptions. This can lead to issues such as disjointed customer experiences and complex integrations.
The Kibo Approach
We’ve taken a unique approach to address these challenges. The company’s journey into subscription models began with a forward-thinking customer, Alchemy, a pioneer in the subscription business model. Alchemy has a rich history dating back to 1999, well before subscriptions became a mainstream concept. Our team recognized that the intersection of commerce, subscriptions, and order management presented a significant opportunity.
Value-Driven Subscription Models
One of the central ideas driving our investment in subscription models is providing value to businesses. Unlike competitors that take a percentage of the Gross Merchandise Value (GMV), our approach focuses on delivering cost-effective solutions. This approach resonates with various businesses, including B2B enterprises that often have recurring orders as part of their operations.
Enhanced Pricing and Promotion Engine
We also place a strong emphasis on our pricing and promotions engine, a feature that often receives high praise from industry experts. This engine has evolved significantly, addressing complex use cases, including stacked promotions and segmented offers. Whether a business wants to offer discounts based on order frequency or provide trial promotions, our pricing and promotions engine is equipped to handle these diverse scenarios.
Kibo straddles the line between technical sophistication and user-friendliness, ensuring that its platform empowers both developers and business users. If you’d like to see Kibo in action or learn more about our Order Management, eCommerce, and Subscription Commerce solutions, get in touch.