B2B eCommerce survey: Three waves of eCommerce development

26.2.2015 -

Last autumn we conducted research to chart current development requirements in B2B eCommerce. We found that consumerization and omnichannel sales are among the most urgent development areas. After examining the findings in greater detail and conducting further analyses, we identified three clear stages of eCommerce growth, which can be described as development waves.

Three waves of eCommerce development
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The first development wave

The first development wave that organizations must surf involves the optimization of sales and order process. 50% of decision makers described this area as a central requirement of the development phase. There is a need to teach customers to independently contact salespersons.

“The goal is to steer orders to the web, especially routine orders. Directing routine orders to online channels leaves more time for personalized service.”

“It simplifies and speeds up customers’ everyday purchasing processes. It also enhances our own sales efforts.”

The second development wave

The second wave of development takes us deeper below the surface and is more analytical. Our research showed that development needs are increasing multifold. Overwhelmingly, the most critical requirement in this phase was considered to be up-to-date and high quality product information. Up to 75% of decision makers who raised this issue made it their leading concern in the second phase of development.

“Real-time product information, not just for just for customers, but also for our global sales teams.”

“The technology must work seamlessly and reliably. The customer must be able to choose easily: to purchase individual components and spare parts, order maintenance and even certain complete modules. In other words, highly specific information must be available.”

Other second-wave development needs include improving the customer experience, understanding customer behavior, and taking advantage of social channels and search engine optimization.

“A major challenge is continuous content development. What B2B customers demand of content as opposed to what consumers demand. Only businesses can place orders in our online store, but as an information channel it serves everyone.”

The third development wave

The third development wave allows us to achieve success by operating on the customer’s terms. It is essential to simplify the customer’s everyday routines. We must offer customers services that are device- and technology-independent.

“We intend to make better use of back end systems in our online store.”

“Everything is anchored in customer experience. The change has already taken place. We have more digital than face-to-face contact. Managing the customer journey is extremely important to us, as a development area as well.”

How do you navigate safely past the rocks?

The research findings confirm our own views – eCommerce development is a journey, not a project. It’s most important to discuss long-term goals rather than mapping detailed requirements for the first phase of development. It’s best to choose development partners and technology based on long-term plans.

Descom’s Director of Omnichannel Commerce Pekka Malmirae explores the development waves in greater detail in his blog. You can also contact Pekka for more information.


Pekka Malmirae
Director, Omnichannel Commerce
+358 40 5384249


The translated quotes in this blog were extracted from interviews conducted with B2B decision makers as part of research on the current state of B2B eCommerce.

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