Are B2B Digital Commerce Platforms Fueling Ecosystem Models for Manufacturers?

11 Feb

Are B2B Digital Commerce Platforms Fueling Ecosystem Models for Manufacturers?

Neel Mandal, Research Director, IDC Manufacturing Insights

Neel Mandal  
Research Director, IDC Manufacturing Insights
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It’s no longer only about process innovation or efficiency improvement within the four walls of the enterprise. Manufacturing organizations of all sizes are seizing the opportunity of digital commerce as the next engine of growth. Many are accelerating their uptake of eCommerce as the crucial first step to break into the ecosystem-led commerce/marketplace platform.

IDC defines the marketplace ecosystem model as “a web-based and/or mobile-enabled model that brings together demand- and supply-side players to discover and promote specific manufacturing products or services.” Also known as “collaborative commerce,” its key characteristic is to facilitate and promote commercial transactions. This allows manufacturing businesses to provide superior commerce and purchase experiences to customers across the globe. There are two primary types observed in the digital commerce platforms:

All-in-one platform: Provides deep functionality that can be used for all commerce processes. For example, the platform supports shopping cart, product catalog, order management, web content management (WCM), subscription management, and so on.

API-first platform: Where functionality can be purchased/accessed standalone via APIs. For example, a customer might only need cart/checkout, pricing, and inventory visibility functions. The customer can leverage these services with REST APIs, paying based on API calls.

B2B digital commerce platforms devoted to manufacturing need to provide certain capabilities to effectively conduct business-to-business (B2B) commerce. While the capabilities required would vary across manufacturing sub-verticals, a few key features would be:

  1. Out-of-box integrations with manufacturing-specific applications and generating manufacturing-specific reports
  2. Specific shopping cart functionalities that are relevant to the manufacturing sector: like product pages, can contain detailed technical specifications
  3. Configure price quote (CPQ) for complex engineered product configuration

Our recent research shows that the majority of players are trying to position themselves to manufacturers with unique industry-specific features; as a result, there is a wider option for technology buyers to choose from than ever before.  

Manufacturers should acquire these ecosystem capabilities to leverage the “network effect” through referrals and ratings and word of mouth. We also recommend treating this as a fulfillment of the existing direct-to-consumer initiative, which allows manufacturers to establish a direct communication and thereby own the all-important data and relationship.

To learn more about this topic, please get in touch or read our recently published research:  IDC MarketScape: Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-Enabled B2B Digital Commerce Platforms for Manufacturing 2018 Vendor Assessment

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