We commissioned a study from Forrester Consulting, The Total Economic Impact™ of Salesforce B2B Commerce to construct a financial model designed to help companies demonstrate, justify, and realize the tangible value of IT initiatives.
The market for B2B ecommerce grew 11% in 2018 to top $1 trillion. That huge number is expected to grow solidly as many manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors that don’t yet have an ecommerce site — and there are a lot of them — plan to launch one within two years.
Salesforce has a different approach to serve this market, we break down technology silos between teams to give everyone a shared view of customers on one integrated CRM platform, called Salesforce Customer 360.
What is the impact of that approach in B2B ecommerce? To find out we commissioned a study from Forrester Consulting, The Total Economic Impact™ of Salesforce B2B Commerce, in which Forrester interviewed Salesforce customers and constructed a financial model designed to help companies demonstrate, justify, and realize the tangible value of IT initiatives.
According to the June 2019 study, prior to using Salesforce B2B Commerce, the organizations were using either a “legacy ecommerce system that frustrated their customers (resulting in low usage) and was difficult to manage and modify, or offered their customers no ecommerce option at all.”
The problem with that is obvious but was put plainly by a digital product manager for a food distributor who said, “Customers weren’t going to give us more business unless we made it easier for them to order.”
In Salesforce’s view, the results of the study suggest four primary benefits:
- More revenue/faster growth
- Lower operational costs
- Greater business agility
- Happier customers
Let’s examine each.
More revenue/faster growth
According to the study, organizations interviewed saw higher growth rates from customers who switched to online ordering due to the overall better customer experience including easy ordering, reordering, return initiation, real-time order status and more. Taking a composite of the customers interviewed, Forrester found that the average annual revenue growth from customers who transitioned to online ordering was 10% above the growth rate of those not using ecommerce, with an operating profit margin of 10%.
Organizations also drove more revenue from using their digital channels for cross-selling and upselling products and services. For example, a chemical company now generates $450,000 annually from new services, a bump it attributes to its use of Salesforce B2B Commerce. “We make some extra money by selling additional services. For a premium, our online customers can get a rush order or go below our traditional minimum order quantity.”
Moreover, in a sign that B2B buyers are eager to leverage ecommerce, organizations interviewed were able to transition 25% of their customers to online ordering in the first year of implementation, and 40% of customers in year two.
Lower operational costs
B2B buying is slowly transitioning to ecommerce, but many organizations still rely on phone, fax, and email to place orders, which of course is time-consuming and expensive. Forrester found that the composite organization’s processing cost fell by $12 per order, or a risk-adjusted $3.7 million over a three-year period, after launching Salesforce B2B Commerce. The study notes that they value this cost decrease for smaller customers since it is especially difficult to cost-effectively serve them via labor-intensive channels.
Other cost efficiencies come from software and IT management cost avoidance of a risk-adjusted $2.1 million over a three-year period from retiring legacy ecommerce systems.
Finally, the composite organization realized a risk-adjusted $7.3 million over a three-year period in increased operating profit from customers that transitioned to online ordering.
Greater business agility
The capacity to quickly extend the capability of an initial tech investment to other business units or initiatives is absolutely critical today. With Salesforce B2B Commerce, Forrester notes, organizations can configure rather than customize the system, which means they can roll out ecommerce enhancements (and realize business benefits) much faster. The head of marketing and business development for a chemicals company said, “This was the only solution that gave us the possibility to grow so quickly and with such flexibility in implementation.”
The study also found that organizations that use other Salesforce products like CRM, Service Cloud or Sales Cloud, noted the ease of configuring those systems with Salesforce B2B Commerce, and to enable the native connections between these customer-facing applications. These connections enable organizations to keep all customer data on a single platform that provides a 360-degree view of customer activity.
It should come as no surprise that when you serve your customers faster and more efficiently, they are more satisfied and more likely to become repeat customers. Companies interviewed by Forrester reported significant benefits from Salesforce B2B Commerce not quantified in its study including increased customer satisfaction with self-service ordering; a better customer experience with detailed product descriptions, imagery, and dynamic cataloging; real-time information about availability and delivery; ease of ordering and reordering. In fact, better online product information has led to greater order accuracy and fewer returns and claims. After implementing Salesforce B2B Commerce, a food distributor reported 29% fewer requests for returns or credit.
According to the 2019 U.S. B2B Ecommerce Market Report, more than 49% of total B2B sales, or $7.3 trillion, are still conducted manually while another 32%, or $4.8 trillion, are conducted through EDI (Electronic Data Interchange). There is an enormous opportunity for wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors to modernize their customer journey with a B2B ecommerce system that is natively connected to world-class CRM. As we believe the Forrester Consulting study demonstrates, Salesforce can help organizations achieve higher levels of growth and innovation that was not possible previously.
Said the digital product manager of a wholesale food distributor, “We’ve got a lot of new initiatives this year, some large some small. Sixty percent of them we couldn’t have done without Salesforce B2B Commerce.”
To read more about the impact of Salesforce on B2B ecommerce, download the complete Forrester Consulting study.