This executive conversation by Digital Commerce 360 with Senior Director of Product Management, HCL Commerce, Brian Gillespie first appeared in the Digital Commerce 360 report Methods to Mastering E-commerce Marketplaces. Download the full report here.
B2B e-commerce is more competitive than ever, and many companies are turning to marketplace strategies to gain a competitive edge. Marketplaces offer companies an opportunity to both expand their product assortment and their reach with very little business risk. To discuss a modular approach to building a robust e-commerce site that leverages the power of marketplaces, Digital Commerce 360 spoke with Brian Gillespie, senior director of product management at HCL Commerce.
What is driving the growth of B2B marketplaces?
B2B companies are looking for ways to rise above the competition, and creating easier, more satisfying customer experiences is one way they’re doing that. Marketplaces make it easy for B2B companies to offer their buyers a one-stop shop. They give B2B buyers more product options while allowing B2B companies to expand the breadth of their offering, and they also offer more flexibility around the supply chain.
For example, one large automotive company implemented a marketplace to create an all encompassed parts and accessories shop for both its B2B and B2C customers. The company has brought all of its partners and distributors onto the marketplace, where customers can go to purchase both physical and digital goods from a single location — simplifying the experience for everyone.
How have marketplace technologies evolved in recent years?
Marketplaces used to be an afterthought from a commerce perspective. You had to stand up a B2B e-commerce site and then contract with a third-party vendor to implement a marketplace that needed to be integrated with commerce platform. It was a complex process.
Now, marketplaces are native in e-commerce solutions. You no longer need third-party integrations or to synchronize data across different platforms. It’s a single solution with all the tooling in place, so they’re very easy to stand up without the support of IT.
What typical challenges do B2B companies face when implementing marketplace initiatives?
It’s important to make sure your organization is ready for marketplaces. There are a lot of back-end processes that challenge companies: How do you negotiate with your suppliers from contractual standpoint? How do you settle and handle payments across the organization? There are a lot of complexities on the commerce side which is solved with the new marketplace solution, however, organizations need to look at business processes such as the back-end payments and accounts receivable.
What strategies or technologies help them overcome these challenges?
Composable commerce lets B2B companies piece together e-commerce sites with the features they need for their business, but then they have to tie these pieces together from different vendors. HCL Commerce takes that same modular approach, but it comes from a single vendor, HCL. Each feature — including marketplaces — is its own module, and then we ensure everything works together (search, promotions, B2B pricing, contracts, entitlements, buying experience, business tooling, etc.).
The B2B organizations no longer have to stitch everything together. Additionally, with everything in a single platform, all the data is in one place — giving companies and customers visibility into inventory, product information and pricing.
Marketplaces no longer have to be complex. With a single solution, you can get them up and running quickly and easily.
Download the full report here.