We sat down with Joshua Warren, founder and CEO of Creatuity to get some insight on how PIM, a previously B2C focused product, is starting to make its way into the B2B market. We wanted to have a better understanding of why PIM is vital in a B2B setting as well as how PIM can help the B2B market strengthen its exponential growth. Here’s our conversation:
Can you please tell us about Creatuity, and what is your experience and history with eCommerce projects and solutions?
I started Creatuity back in 2008, so we just celebrated ten years in the Magento space. Prior to that, I was a developer working on several different platforms and solutions. In the end, I opted to run a Magento-only agency because I felt the platform was poised to be dominant… and I was correct! Creatuity’s successes have allowed us to be an innovator in the ecosystem, contributing instant purchase functionality, award-winning websites, and specializing in providing true omnichannel commerce technologies.
B2B eCommerce is growing 7 times faster than the B2C eCommerce. What do you see as the main obstacles B2B vendors need to overcome to fully leverage an eCommerce strategy?
The most important obstacle for B2B companies to conquer is providing a true omnichannel customer experience. Just as with B2C companies, B2B merchants want their customers to be able to buy online and pick up in-store, ship from store, and manage multiple vendors as well as distributors. Next, it is imperative to place product and service management at the center of your eCommerce strategy. If your catalog or buying experience is tedious or hard to navigate, a buyer will move on to the next option. You will also want to master inventory visibility and control for real-time buyer/supplier relationships that enable superior customer self-service.
Next, B2B companies are in desperate need of better business intelligence models that allow them to fully leverage a data-driven view of their business. Platforms like Magento, the dominant leader on the IR300 B2B list of ranked sites, utilize innovative technologies to capitalize on untapped and growing B2B sales.
B2B companies are in desperate need of better business intelligence models that allow them to fully leverage a data-driven view of their business.
What main characteristics and challenges do you see in B2B eCommerce projects?
B2B companies often find their data is all over the place. Older business practices that are built upon traditional B2B operational styles are often overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of information they need to compile and streamline. They typically have a need for advanced B2B capabilities like segmentation, invoices, multiple catalogs, different pricing agreements, etc. The scope of B2B projects is usually larger than B2C, as B2B companies often have more SKUs/attributes/bundles. In order to maintain a competitive edge in such an evolutionary vertical, B2B merchants must stay one step ahead of the aggressively moving benchmark.
B2B projects are usually more complex and require advanced capabilities, what must-have solutions do you recommend in B2B eCommerce projects?
In many cases, the nature of the product data, SKUs, dimensions, weights, diagrams, and photos often necessitate a PIM, plus the need to distribute content and to publish it on multiple sites beyond their own, which broadens their reach and visibility. B2B businesses must spread their product content with the goal of increasing brand awareness and driving traffic from a relevant audience.
The B2B market is evolving very quickly, as well as the behavior of its customers. What new buying trends have you noticed?
The way B2B shoppers buy is evolving. They shop on Amazon and on eBay. They want to order online, have prices right away and not ask for a quote. Essentially, they want an experience that is more reminiscent of a B2C experience rather than a traditional, “Call us NOW for a quote or more information” hassle. Their primary focus is having that speed to market, being able to buy quickly and be reactive. B2B customers need to be as pampered as B2C customers, if not more. These are long-term relationships with typically large average prices per transaction.
The way B2B shoppers buy is evolving. They shop on Amazon and on eBay. They want to order online, have prices right away and not ask for a quote.
B2B customers are requesting more and more personalized offers. Do you think merchants are ready for this?
Every customer wants to feel like they are the most important relationship you have. Making them feel like you know them, their needs, preferences and offering them unique buying, shipping, payment, and discounted inventory opportunities that make their buying experience more pleasurable only enhances and strengthens your long-term relationship potential. Are buyers ready for this? Absolutely. Are merchants ready for this? Not at all. It is such a paradigm shift, and the early adopters are destined to reap the benefits of their slower-moving rivals.
B2B customers want a smooth buying experience, how do you think a PIM solution can help?
PIM optimizes a business and its catalog for an omnichannel experience that’s just as much in demand for B2B as it is for B2C. The technology allows a merchant to populate a compelling amount of product information, which only enhances the buying experience and reduces returns and poor reviews.
In conclusion, how do you see the evolution of PIM solutions in the market?
PIMs must become more mainstream. A great PIM should be fully embracing and laying the foundation for exceptional PxM (Product Experience Management). This technology will be invaluable in the enhancement of the way buyers interact with B2B brands.
About Joshua Warren:
Joshua has worked in eCommerce since 1999. He is the Founder & CEO of Creatuity, a Magento Enterprise Solutions Partner & eCommerce agency that since 2008 has helped retailers of all sizes achieve success with Magento. As a frequent conference speaker and author, he is constantly exploring the future of commerce and how technology will provide richer, more engaging shopping experiences. He is a Magento Certified Solution Specialist, a Magento Certified Developer Plus, and a 2016 Magento Master.