In B2B, digital commerce is becoming increasingly important. The demands of users for user experience, data and convenience are growing with the B2C market. But for some B2B commerce companies, such as wholesalers and manufacturers, it is hard to keep up with these developments. It is not that they are unwilling, but often their tech stack is outdated. 9 signs that you, too, have work to do.
1. Updates are problematic and time-consuming
In today's complex commerce landscape, everything is constantly changing. You work with frameworks, applications and APIs from many different vendors. Even the hosting of your landscape is usually spread across multiple clouds and data centers. In practice, this means a daily deluge of major and minor upgrades, updates and security patches.
Implementing this manually is extremely time-consuming. And conflicting versions and updates can cause issues. At some point, the situation is simply no longer acceptable, as your technical people will be spending all of their time on updates and patches and they will have no time left to test innovations and roll out new functionalities.
The solution is to automate this work where possible and to considerably standardize your tech. Any remaining maintenance work can be outsourced. Possibilities for outsourcing are limited within older commerce infrastructures.
2. Performance can no longer be improved
Performance is important for the digital customer experience. As a result, you are constantly trying to identify and address the causes of slow sites, apps or other touchpoints. On older infrastructures, however, easy ways to speed things up are running out at some point. That is the time to start replacing systems.
3. Innovations cannot be implemented as your platform does not support new functionalities
Coming up with new business ideas is relatively easy, implementing them is generally more complicated. There comes a time when you can no longer keep up with the innovation speed that the market demands. For example, a payment method that is no longer supported, new data streams that you can no longer process (fast enough), support of mobile devices, new subscription models or product combinations... Tech is meant to enable and support business initiatives. If that is no longer possible due to technical limitations, it is time to innovate.
4. Scaling up or down is difficult
Moving along at speed with your market is increasingly important, also in B2B commerce. Cloud infrastructure, if properly set up, makes it easy to grow with your business. This is often more difficult with older infrastructure, making controlling costs and optimizing your margins a tough job. All industries have their seasonal peaks and troughs. The better you can adapt to them, the more you earn. Is your tech getting in the way? Then it's time for an upgrade.
5. Front-end and back-end are too intertwined
Dependencies between front-end and back-end can considerably slow down your innovation speed. In B2B, adding, testing, replacing and updating front-ends quickly, easily and flexibly is more and more at the heart of the customer experience strategy. To make innovations possible, you want to be able to continuously integrate new data sources at the back-end. If the front-end and back-end are not independent, these become complex projects with incalculable risks. And with every project, the architecture becomes more complex and so the risks increase. The separation of front-end and back-end is therefore an important reason to reconsider the commerce architecture.
6. The UX of your current system no longer meets the requirements of the modern user
What does your B2B user do in his free time? Shopping at Bol and CoolBlue, chatting on WhatsApp and streaming on Netflix and Spotify. The digital services that people use every day set incredibly high standards in terms of accessibility and ease of use. As a B2B commerce organization, you want to keep up. Because if you don't move with them, your competitor will do it for you. But is your platform able to deliver these seamless experiences?
7. Your business has changed, but the software has not grown with it
Growth, mergers, international expansion: your company is probably not the same as five years ago. Your product range may have changed too, with more options for customization or more variants. Your digital channels are also constantly evolving. Chances are that you now have more apps and sites, in more different languages and for more different countries than a few years ago. Has innovation within your IT architecture become increasingly difficult due to changes in your business? Is your infrastructure reaching its limits? Then you have another good reason to start thinking about renewal.
8. You would like to tap new markets, but you lack the digital capacity to do so
For tapping new markets, the same applies as to other forms of innovation. A rigid architecture with technology that can barely keep up with the status quo cannot grow along with new business ambitions. New markets demand new customer experiences, new pricing models, new products and new communication channels. You will have to be technically able to cope with that. Creativity and improvisational skills will get you far, but there is a limit at some point.
9. You cannot track your users' behavior across different channels
We live in an omnichannel world, but do you also work with omnichannel data? To understand the demands of your users - and how you can help them better - you need data on their behavior. This is easier in B2B than in B2C, because your users will often be logged in. However, your data efforts can be severely frustrated by platforms that are not interconnected or provide data that is difficult to integrate. So building good, consistent user profiles is also a common reason for modernization.
Do you recognize these challenges? And do you feel that you need to start working on revamping your tech landscape? Unfortunately, this can be a rather intimidating challenge. The good news is that there is no need to throw everything out and start all over again. At Triple, we always consider strategy first and technology second. If you take an independent and realistic look at the tech of B2B commerce organizations, you will usually find things that can still work for some time, possibly slightly modified or 'wrapped up' in a new connection or intermediate layer. So you can focus your energy on the things that need to be done first.
Want to read more?
In our white paper "4 Steps to Digital B2B Commerce that Works", we show you what you need to do to revamp your tech architecture, get more out of your data and work on digital B2B commerce in a customer-focused and innovative way.