B2B & B2C E-Commerce
Digital sales channels for new markets & leads
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Successful B2B E-Commerce strategies are interdisciplinary ventures: It requires participants from the entire company in order to make profitable use of the advantages of digitization - and an E-Commerce platform that also takes this overarching character into account. E-Commerce is as multifaceted as your company. This applies both online and offline: The key to success lies in differentiation from the competition. For this reason, we develop a tailor-made solution for you that makes the individual strengths of your company tangible and tangible - on the desktop as well as on tablets and smartphones.
B2B & B2C E-Commerce solutions from ICONPARC are sustainable and successful! Using the example of Karl Gröner GmbH from Ulm, I will show you exactly what E-Commerce means in a B2B context.
I chose this example because we advised Mr Gröner from the very beginning on the development of the B2B E-Commerce solution. ICONPARC designed and built the Gröner B2B E-Commerce Platform: It has been in operation since 2002 and - like all our platforms - is technologically up-to-date at all times. The sustained success of the medium-sized family business Gröner shows that it pays to invest in digitization, and that is already the case for companies with annual sales of around EUR 25 million or more.
My special thanks go to Bernd Gröner and Dr. Eberhard Gröner for the trust they have placed in us for 20 years, as well as to Mrs. Lienhart for her outstanding commitment to the maintenance of the Gröner B2B E-Commerce platform.
I hope you enjoy reading all about our B2B E-Commerce Solution Digital sales channels for new markets & leads. I am pleased about your interest and any form of feedback: Please call me at +49 89 15900643 or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then I remain with warm greetings from Munich
Dipl.-Ing. // Managing Director & Shareholder
Since the distinction between e-business and e-commerce often seems unclear, we will start with the definitions:
Excerpt from Wikipedia on the term e-commerce
"Electronic commerce, also Internet commerce, online commerce or e-commerce, refers to purchasing and sales processes via the Internet. [...] In electronic commerce, a direct business relationship between suppliers and customers is transacted through data transmission. In the broader sense, electronic commerce includes any type of business transaction in which Internet service providers - including those that are not commercial enterprises - and Internet consumers use electronic communication technologies as transaction partners in the initiation, agreement or provision of services".
Excerpt from Wikipedia on the term E-Business
"[...] Accordingly, e-business means the integrated execution of all automatable business processes of a company with the help of information and communication technology." This definition shows that e-business has an effect on transaction costs through the integration of business processes on the one hand and on throughput time and transmission costs through automation on the other. However, since integration initially takes place on the organizational side and this can then be automated with the help of ICT technologies, as far as technically feasible, a successful implementation of e-business is tied to organizational adjustments, such as process, task and data integration. Accordingly, e-business can generate the potential for success, but it can only be called up through the restructuring of organizational processes. […]“
E-Commerce is a subset of
What distinguishes B2B E-Commerce from its B2C counterpart?
|B2C E-Commerce||B2B E-Commerce|
|Registrierung||freiwillig||zwingend, samt Prüfungsprozess|
|Kunde||Privatperson||Firma mit Ansprechpartnern, zum Teil > 100|
|Fokus auf||Brand-Experience, Umsatz||Leads, Umsatz|
|OCI||nein||Anbindung an ERP-Systeme des Kunden|
|EDI||nein||Anbindung an Beschaffunsglösungen der Kunden|
|Kundenbeziehung||kurzfristig||nachhaltig und langfristig|
|Verkaufszyklus||einfach und schnell||komplex und langwierig|
|Kataloge||für alle identisch||kunden-individuelle Sortimente|
|Preisgestaltung||für alle identisch||kundenindividuell|
|Preisermittlung||keine||Ad-Hoc Ermittlung aus dem ERP|
|Verfügbarkeiten||ja oder nein||Echtzeit-Ermittlung: Wann sind welche Mengen wo verfügbar|
|Lieferzeiten||für alle identisch||kundenindividuell|
|Rechnungs- und Lieferadressen||wenige, meist nur eine||Teilweise > 100 Lieferadressen je Kunde|
|Bestellmenge||< 3 Bestellpositionen||> 100 Bestellpositionen|
|Versandkosten||einfache Berechnung||Berechnungen bzw. individuelle Konditionen|
|Zahlunsgziele||für alle gleich||individuelle Vereinbarungen|
|Angebote||für alle identisch||kundenindividuell|
|Aktionen||für alle identisch||Kundengruppen spezifisch|
|Zuordnung von Vertriebsperson zu Ansprechpartner||nein||ja|
|ERP (einfach)||ERP (komplex), PIM und CRM|
|Kunden-spezifisch konfigurierbare Auswertungen||nein||ja|
|Integration von CRM||nein||ja|
|Newsletter||meist identisch||kundenindividuelle Sortimente, Aktionen und Preise, Kundengruppen segmentiert|
It's simple. Almost nothing.
The majority of B2B E-Commerce processes, interfaces, data processing and administration options are located in BACKEND, which is however not accessible to customers - and the curious. The true complexity of a B2B solution is therefore at best partially visible in FRONTEND. This does not make the selection of the right partner any easier.
That's why we also show you our BACKEND systems in demos: Here it becomes clear how complex a E-Commerce B2B solution is.
Products and many services are now so interchangeable that, in practice, it is often the price that decides whether a contract is awarded or not. But offering at the lowest price is not a winning strategy in the long run - at least not for the majority of suppliers. There is a promising strategic way out: In order to gain substantial new customers - and also to optimize the loyalty of existing customers - a broad field of activity is opening up in the area of digital services & B2B E-Commerce plattforms to differentiate competitors. In the 21st century, it is primarily digitization competence that determines the competitiveness of companies!
All the more surprising, then, is a widespread attitude that can be summed up in this way:
I can see that my competitors are not any further along either!
Not at all!
What is visible on the Internet is only the FRONTEND, the tip of the iceberg. In addition, B2B e-Commerceportals are usually closed off and therefore not accessible without login and password. This means that the type, scope and level of automation and processes running in FRONTEND or in the background - so-called BACKEND - cannot be assessed. B2B APPs are also located in a protected area, so that you are not aware of the progress of your competitors in digitisation. And this is how markets are distributed, quietly and quietly.
Without you noticing it.
And if ... then it is often too late.
Where companies used to dominate the market and customers put products in front of their noses, digitalisation has turned the tide in a disruptive way: The digital natives, who are increasingly pushing their way into business life, are almost all online and expect ...
Me, everything and now!
If you don't adjust to them, you will lose the connection - and these customers.
We are of the opinion that in the long term, customers can be bound not by digital presence, but by digital processes.
For us and our customers, digitization is not an end in itself, but a powerful tool for marketing and sales - with measurable results such as sales. Digitisation using a software product is a tactical approach. Digitisation by means of a solution, on the other hand, allows many tactical measures to be interlinked with an overarching strategy. Solutions from ICONPARC stand for a comprehensively integrated approach with a strategic character. All derived measures flow into the performance characteristics of the respective solution at the operational level - and thus contribute to its success.
We develop solutions to complex problems. Such interdisciplinary projects can only be realized in a team or with a combination of extraordinary talents. ICONPARC brings together the talents and experience of more than 20 software developers, most of whom have been with us for more than 10 years - some for more than 15 years.
According to Wikipedia, the constitutive characteristics of solutions are
- Combination: A customer solution consists of several, different and related services and products, or services and services. This combination gives a solution a high degree of problem-solving potential, i.e. it can solve a complex customer problem. A single product or service is not a solution because these isolated services cannot solve a complex problem.
- Integration: In a solution, the products and services are coordinated so that they are technically and functionally combined to form a whole. This is called internal operational integration. In addition, a solution is geared to the circumstances and requirements of the customer company. This circumstance is called external integration.
- Individualization: A solution is adapted to the requirements of an individual customer. Individualization primarily concerns the creation, selection and composition of the service components, but also, for example, price fixing.
On the following pages we present the development and performance features of the B2B E-Business solution developed for the medium-sized company Gröner: The FRONTEND already shows how highly individualized product-specific representations and operating systems were created by means of customization. With an off-the-shelf product this would only be possible to a very limited extent - at the expense of customer acceptance.
FACTS & FIGURES
Figures, data, facts about Karl Gröner GmbH
26 Mio. €
23 Mio. €
Online turnover per year
Karl Gröner GmbH is a specialist dealer for advertising technology with 110 employees. The family business from Ulm can look back on more than 70 years of history. The extensive product range includes around 120,000 articles from the fields of films, screen printing, advertising textiles and decorative systems as well as digital services and system solutions for advertising technology.
Dr. Eberhard & Bernd Gröner
Managing Directors of Karl Gröner GmbH
"Without our B2B E-Commerce platform, the wholesale business in our industry would no longer be affordable today. The independent, flexible adaptation of the product ranges, an extremely high-performance price and availability check based on individual customer conditions and not least the all-encompassing product information, which has contributed to the high acceptance of the platform, confirm our opinion, even after more than 19 years of live operation, that ICONPARC is the right partner in the jungle of E-Commerce providers and developers".
PHASE I - CONCEPTION
Successful solutions succeed thanks to 24 years of experience - always measurable, especially based on online sales.
We brought management, sales and marketing together at one table. In four workshops, we worked together to develop a promising strategy. The result was a 96-page specification (requirements and functional specifications) including numerous illustrations, tables and annexes.
You will find the specifications of an exemplary B2B E-Business strategy divided into phases here ...
UX & UI Design Study
We presented various design drafts to the Gröner management, whose focus from the very beginning was to offer customers and interested parties a pleasant user experience (UX). All designs were first created in Adobe Photoshop or using the Affinity Suite. In the second step, an HTML/CSS/JS prototype was created for the desired design, which was tested on all end devices and iteratively refined.
PHASE II - CONVERSION
Afterwards the implementation with all interfaces took place within 6 months. After a two-month test phase in the testenvironment, the B2B e-Commerce solution went live.
ICONPARC E-Business Suite
The modular ICONPARC E-Business Suite is the basis for successful B2B E-Business solutions. It is characterized by easy extensibility, flexibility and high performance. The standard framework forms the basis for all modules and is compatible with common operating systems such as Windows and Linux. The core consists of a high-performance database such as Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle, the ICONPARC Application Server (IPACT) and an extensive library that grows daily. The system owes its high performance in particular to the Java Application Server (64 bit), which together with an Apache web server forms the interface to the Internet. All applications implemented on this basis can be operated entirely via a web browser. Additional client installations are therefore no longer necessary. The library offers extensive functionalities that are available to all modules and enable their seamless integration. The modules cover a wide range of application scenarios and can be supplemented with additional modules as required. With the help of the integrated development environment, subsequent as well as individual extensions and adaptations can be implemented within a very short time. This allows your company to profit quickly from changing market conditions.
The tip of the iceberg, the
The following page scenarios are available in FRONTEND. The contents of all pages, consisting of personalizable documents and contributions, are generated dynamically with every click. An intelligent caching system ensures best performance during page delivery. Guest visitors already have around 11,000 pages at their disposal at www.groener.de
On the following pages we show you selected examples from the B2B e-Commerce solution www.groener.de, which was built exactly according to the design study...
All page scenarios are optimized for common browsers and devices.
Because visitors in the B2B environment usually only see prices once they have registered, the B2B E-Business solution is also the essential tool for lead generation. A voucher for first-time buyers turns many registered interested parties directly into buyers.
On the clearly arranged start page, editorial teasers arouse curiosity about key topics. Elements that are available on all pages are arranged in the header area (search, assortment navigation, customer account, shopping cart) or on the outside right (contact person, making contact, newsletter, catalogue downloads).
Already after typing a few characters into the centrally placed search field, suggestions for hits appear, whereby products, brands and product groups are taken into account. If the suggestions do not yet contain the searched item, one click opens the list of all hits. The page footer offers entry points for many overlapping topics (imprint, data protection, shipping costs, etc.).
The big clou: The impressive performance!
Access 120,000 articles in less than 100 ms!
When entering via the search function, filters serve as after-search navigation - this makes it easy to restrict the hit list to the desired products. The hit list is equipped with InfinityScroll, which means that it simply reloads additional hits as soon as the visitor reaches the bottom of the page while scrolling vertically.
When entering via an assortment from the main navigation (in the example: "LFP media"), the overview page provided with illustrations and additional explanations invites you to browse: The visitor learns interesting facts about all subcategories of the selected assortment. After selecting a category, the corresponding (filterable) hit list appears again.
Image slider with all color variations (zoomable); description & data sheets; color selection: By clicking on a colour - without reloading the page - a form part appears with the size run; prices, stock quantities (Gröner and supplier), delivery time are determined ad hoc; transfer of all desired colour/size variants into the shopping basket in one step.
Products requiring explanation cannot be ordered directly. Instead, a simple contact to an experienced Gröner consultant is made possible; alternatively, an offer can be requested. Product alternatives are shown at the bottom of the page.
Structurally similar structure to the product side in the textile sector, but with the following deviations: Filterable colour range slider to reduce the very extensive colour selection to a manageable size; form part with different features ("width" instead of "size") and other order unit ("meter" instead of "piece").
Example from the "Display" sub-range: In addition to descriptions and data sheets, explanatory videos are included; specific variant dimensions (height and width) lead to the form part after selection of the desired values; at the end of the page, product alternatives are again offered for selection.
A simple order form is displayed for the articles grouped to a product, for example for the different sizes of a stand display.
Each product page can be downloaded directly as a PDF document. The essential product information is clearly presented, so that Gröner's offer also makes a good impression offline.
Due to the wide and deep assortment, the shopping cart view is structurally particularly demanding: For maximum clarity, the products are grouped in up to three levels - according to sub-range (e.g. "advertising textiles"), style or main product as well as first variant dimension (e.g. "colour"). All desired variants of a product can thus be seen at a glance on the B2B e-Business platform.
An RMA (Returned Material Authorization) process is integrated so that returns can be processed efficiently: For each delivered purchase order, you can select which item(s) and quantity(s) are to be returned - including the reason for the complaint. Gröner will then provide the necessary shipping documents so that the customer also has it easy.
Analogous to the order history, a searchable and filterable list helps the customer to keep track of his returns. For each individual case, the RMA process can be traced in all steps.
Trade fair appearances, road shows, seminars, etc. - all upcoming events are listed in chronological order and briefly presented. A detailed description can be found on a separate page under "More information". There you will also find the access to the registration ...
Registration for an event can be done conveniently online. As usual, the registration form is prefilled as far as possible after the visitor has logged in to the Gröner webshop. The confirmation of participation will be triggered via the BACKEND and sent by e-mail.
Important manufacturer brands receive a differentiated presentation of their products and contents - taking into account their individual appearance and appearance. The enrichment with editorial content is personalised according to brand-specific product groups and user groups.
If you use a standard product as part of a B2B e-Business digital strategy, this usually leads to an isolated solution. This stands alone or is not sufficiently integrated into the existing, mostly complex IT system landscape of your company. Cross-process process control is not possible in this way. Here is a simple example: Your ERP system contains many basic master data on customers, their employees, invoice and delivery addresses as well as individual prices and conditions. Without an automated, bi-directional link to your E-Business solution, the master data is maintained in several places, so that deviations and contradictions in reality are the unavoidable consequence.
Catalogues, product groups, features and articles
This data is also already available, mostly in the ERP or PIM system. Here it is also of decisive importance that the data is automatically transferred to the E-Business platform and processed there. Your products can be placed most effectively on the market via the digital sales channel!
Customer-specific assortments, prices, discounts, delivery times and availabilities
The added value of an E-Business business solution for your customers results in particular from the provision of this information in real time.
What about orders, delivery notes and invoices?
You can only count on a high level of acceptance for your solution if all the data already mentioned is kept up-to-date on the E-Business platform. In this sense, it is consistent to automatically transfer the online orders of your customers to the ERP system. This in turn provides delivery notes and invoices, which can be downloaded by the customers in the E-Business frontend. Compared to manual activities or process steps, Digital Customer Services scale excellently - with the lowest error rate at the same time.
Solutions implemented by ICONPARC
for example, retrieve customer-specific prices from the ERP system in real time, or calculate them "on-the-fly" at all points where the frontend requires prices.
A small calculation example illustrates the requirements on your system landscape: In practice, hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of customers will be online simultaneously and carry out search and filter actions on the E-Business platform. If only 200 customers retrieve hit lists with 40 products at a time, then 8,000 prices must already be determined - with as little delay as possible. ERP systems often find it difficult to cope with such quantity structures and the associated burden. However, because these customer-specific data are absolutely critical to success, we have developed numerous procedures, caching systems and algorithms over the past 24 years to provide high-performance assortments, products, availability, prices and conditions in the E-Business solution.
A "side effect" of successful digitization: the more you sell online, the more time your sales force gains to win new customers and open up new markets.