Let’s start with some interesting statistics: 2022 was the first year B2Bs became more likely to offer eCommerce over in-person sales, with 65% of B2B companies exclusively selling online. And in the manufacturing sector, nearly 70% of shipments originate from online channels.
B2B eCommerce is going through the roof. But when we hear these stats, we assume they apply to the US. But they don’t; these are global figures. And while the North American B2B eCommerce market will reach $1.8 trillion in 2023, Asia still makes up roughly 80 percent of it.
Countries like China are ahead of the game, which means there’s enormous potential for manufacturers in the US and Europe to catch up and get ahead of their national competitors. They just need the right software to help.
As a business looking to adopt B2B eCommerce, the primary software you need is a B2B eCommerce platform. This solution lets you sell products to other companies through digital transactions. You then need to start layering other solutions on top through native or third-party integrations to add additional functionality to your website. But where to begin?
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Configurator software should be the first port of call for manufacturers selling complex configurable products–or any business that wants to provide customers with immersive eCommerce experiences. This article explains why.
Read on to discover how configurator software can revolutionize your business and dramatically increase profitability.
What Is Configurator Software?
Configurator software is a powerful solution designed to create and display configurable products. It’s often used in the manufacturing industry, where products are complex with many options, and users need a tool to streamline and automate the configuration process.
Visual configurator software lets sales reps, engineers, and end customers visualize and configure products in real-time through an interactive user interface (configurator). Typically web-based, this configurator can be integrated and embedded in the company’s website, empowering all user groups with the autonomy to design products according to their unique preferences and budget.
Configurator Software and CPQ Implementation
Configurator software is often integral to a comprehensive CPQ (configure, price, quote) solution. The CPQ system incorporates a visual configurator allowing users to interact with product options while generating real-time pricing and quotes.
CPQ users receive the necessary information to configure products and make prompt purchasing decisions. This boosts conversion rates and expedites sales significantly. On average, Epicor customers experience a remarkable 40% increase in conversion rates.
Top-notch CPQ software enables companies to deliver not just fast but also intelligent pricing. The software provides pricing agility and flexibility by incorporating a wide array of pricing strategies—such as discounts, promotions, customer-specific pricing, fluctuating costs, and even live competitor prices. This dynamic pricing ability helps businesses optimize their profit margins on every transaction without missing out on potential deals.
How Configurator Software Supercharges B2B eCommerce
B2B eCommerce is advancing at an astonishing pace. A decade ago, a website that would have cost $100,000 to develop can now be created in mere days for under $100 per month. With current developments in AI, it wouldn’t surprise me if the same website could soon be generated for pennies in a couple of minutes.
The key to long-term success with B2B eCommerce is not merely having a website or simply replicating the experience customers get from interacting with sales reps; it’s about elevating the buying experience, making it more fast, flexible, convenient, immersive, and engaging than ever before.
Integrating configurator software is the easiest way to achieve this elevated buying experience. It streamlines the configuration process and offers immersive 3D visualization capabilities that improve efficiency and product understanding while driving engagement.
How Configurator Software Aligns with Emerging B2B eCommerce Trends
B2B eCommerce is constantly evolving. Many companies feel like they’ve already fallen too far behind the digital leaders and won’t be able to get ahead. This fear is understandable but unfounded. By integrating configurator software into the eCommerce experience, businesses can quickly and easily bridge the gap, surpassing customer expectations.
Below are the latest eCommerce trends and how configurator software effectively addresses them.
A recent McKinsey & Company survey involving 3,500 decision-makers revealed that buyers seek “more channels, more convenience, and a more personalized experience.” Investing in B2B eCommerce effectively addresses channels and convenience, while configurator software tackles the personalization aspect.
Configurator software drives personalization in two ways:
- It enables customers to personalize products to their exact specifications.
- It can be configured to offer customers personalized messaging, pricing, catalogs, recommendations, and detailed customer history. Seamless CRM integration enables these tailored experiences.
High-quality configurator software is designed to function on any device, empowering buyers and sellers to view, configure, and, depending on the product, place orders from anywhere in the world at their convenience.
Sustainability is a growing concern for partners, regulators, and potential customers. Research suggests customers are 4.3 times more loyal to eco-friendly businesses. Configurator software can help enterprises to become more sustainable by streamlining the design and production process, reducing material waste, and optimizing resource utilization. Precise customization ensures products are tailored to meet specific needs, minimizing overproduction.
Today’s buyers seek increased flexibility and options regarding when and where they engage with your brand and purchase your products. B2B eCommerce adds a crucial dimension to your offerings. At the same time, configurator software further supports sales representatives both in-office and in the field, distributors, and other channel partners, contributing to a seamless omnichannel buying experience.
By utilizing a shared back-end across all channels, customers can effortlessly transition between them without starting from scratch each time. This ensures cross-channel consistency and convenience.
Buyers increasingly seek autonomy in their purchasing journey, preferring to learn about product offerings at their own pace and on their terms. Configurator software, with its 3D visualization functionality, provides customers with a crystal-clear understanding of your product selection, accessible around the clock for their convenience.
After familiarizing themselves with your products, buyers want to place orders without contacting sales. By integrating configurator software with your eCommerce platform, customers can instantly purchase customized products without any human interaction.
Lightning-Fast Fulfilment (thanks to CPQ Solutions)
CPQ solutions containing configurator software serve as the driving force behind the end-to-end engineer-to-order process. They initiate workflows from the shopping cart to the shop floor, encompassing automated pricing approvals, CAD and BOM automation, inventory checks, and logistics integration.
This automation collectively results in accelerated sales cycles, reduced lead times, minimized delays, and rapid delivery of products into customers’ hands, setting new standards for efficiency.
Configurator software plays a pivotal role in aligning businesses with emerging B2B eCommerce trends, offering personalized, efficient, and immersive experiences that meet the evolving expectations of modern buyers.
Here are three key takeaways:
- B2B eCommerce is experiencing rapid growth. Nevertheless, much of this growth is occurring in Asia, and there are massive opportunities for US companies that take the lead on immersive online selling.
- Configurator software is vital for businesses dealing with complex products that want to sell and provide immersive experiences online. Integrating with CPQ enables 3D visualization of configurable products and real-time pricing and quotes, leading to increased conversion rates and optimized profit margins.
- Configurator software addresses emerging B2B eCommerce trends like personalization, sustainability, independent discovery, omnichannel, and rapid fulfillment.