Digital transformation was a major theme at B2BOnline 2019.

Digital transformation. While this term is derided as a mere buzzword in other circles, for B2B Commerce retailers, it’s a very real priority, signifying the major changes digital technology is bringing into the industry. We learned quite a bit about how digital transformation plans are being made for 2020, as well as how B2B commerce companies are grappling with these changes.

4 Key Elements of B2B Commerce Digital Transformation 

  1. Search comes first. I frequently cite research that states that 80 percent of B2B Commerce buyers prefer to search first; but in one of the keynotes, Brian Beck, SVP of eCommerce and Omnichannel Strategy at Guidance, cited 95 percent. The search user experience was a critical piece of the buyer experience, and is complicated by catalog. How do you bring a complex catalog – products, SKUs, entitlement, distribution channels – into the digital sphere and allow customers to self-serve? The answer: creating relevant and personalized search experiences that understand buyer intent and context. 
  2. Taxonomy management is a major issue. We heard about this constantly; as these retailers have evolved their catalogs, adding more and more products, tags and everything else, the taxonomy structure becomes very complex. Throw in a merger with another manufacturer who uses different terms and it’s a nightmare to manage. More importantly, however, it also starts to prevent a proper search experience because the parameters are so limiting. 
  3. Self-service is a major priority. Sellers are taking on less and less of a role in B2B commerce as more and more buyers request the ability to make orders online and self-serve. This has major ramifications for B2B commerce organizations, but also how to create an experience online that makes this realistic. Frustrating your users with a poor search experience leads to lost business.
  4. AI is a hot topic. In the closing keynote with the VP of Commerce at Dell, he explained how their team is applying AI to manage their B2B buying experience. It was really exciting to see everyone understands the potential of AI to solve the complex taxonomy and other issues plaguing the B2B commerce industry’s digital transformation. While I was presenting with Acuity Brands, the crowd thought AI was “cool,” but what really got them excited was the 12 percent increase in conversion rate in one month after AI was implemented.

Those are my main takeaways – what were yours? Find me on Twitter @SilauO – I’d love to hear from you! You can also find out more during our upcoming demo of Coveo for B2B Commerce. Register here.