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Interviews

Interview with Christophe Bourbier, Limonetik, on B2B ecommerce trends and challenges

Monday 14 May 2018 | 09:38 AM CET

Christophe Bourbier from Limonetik explains how new business models, regulations, and the omnichannel customer relationship impacts B2B ecommerce 

Could you briefly introduce Limonetik to our readers? What is its business model, objectives, and focus?

Limonetik is a full service aggregator in the payments ecosystem that helps PSPs, acquirers, international merchants, marketplaces and B2B players that want to move in the digital business. Limonetik provides to all these actors an easy access, via a unique API, to a large panel of international payment methods and advanced services as collecting, accounting reconciliation, currency conversion and regulation compliance.

From your point of view, what influences the new trends in ecommerce?

Everybody recognises the B2C ecommerce phenomenon. In June 2017, Forrester announced in a report that B2B ecommerce growth would remain 12.1% per annum and will reach USD 1.2 trillion (13.1% of US B2B sales by 2021). The analysts estimate that the total percentage of B2B buyers will rise from 38% to 55% over the next four years. The 2018 B2B Ecommerce Report from Bigcommerce.com reveals that 41% of B2B retailers expect B2B online sales to grow more than 25% in 2018.

The B2B buyer is changing, so should business’ sales processes. While the older buyers may prefer a direct experience with a sales representative, younger buyers, especially millennials, expect a personalised experience through digital channels.

What are the most important challenges for B2B players?

The whole world knows now that B2B needs ecommerce. Those who digitise will win, while those that do not will close up businesses. Ecommerce is no longer nebulous for B2B; it is a driving force. Manufacturers need to take advantage of digitalisation or risk being left behind.

The analyst Andy Hoar, Forrester, said that “the most successful B2B companies will prioritise their buyers' experience across channels, focusing on creating more omnichannel customers”, but not only. Bigcommerce.com identifies two key points to keep in mind:

  • the importance of the reputation for B2B actors at both stage: the awareness and the consideration;

  • the importance of payment options, which are a vital part of the B2B ecommerce sales process. B2B actors have to implement payment methods specifically used in the B2B market, including the mobile wallets that are on the rise as we speak.

B2B ecommerce is disruptive. With globalisation and overseas businesses, challenges are more and more complex. B2B ecommerce involves the perfect management of interactions between companies and their trading partners. They have to manage the end-to-end customer life cycle and integrate it in their management's system. Customers, suppliers, collaborators, administrations, institutions, all come with as many challenges to take into account and with the need to be perfectly integrated in a value-added network.

B2B ecommerce leaders know that having a globalised vision does not guarantee success; a performant website and/or a CRM is not the unique goal: companies have to think global and productively!

Globalisation, new business models (the explosion of marketplaces), regulations (PSD2 and GDPR), omnichannel customer relationship – with all these, how can professionals turn a generic strategy into an active one, capable to meet the expectations of a certain business and its success?

Frequently, professionals tend to focus on sales coming through the B2B website or from marketing campaigns. However, in B2B online commerce it is not that simple. Actions and applications need to be highly automated and to require very little human involvement. CIOs need to support all the channels through which their companies' sales and purchases flow. CFOs are impacted too; they have to maximise their efficiency, automatising their processes and accountant's tasks, and ease management controls.

The devil is in the detail! You have a website, you have a CRM; so, what is next? You have to associate hard working with executing solid and actionable strategies. Professionals need to consider and perfectly understand their targets: existing customers versus new ones to acquire, countries to address, and, at the same time, the budget. A business transformation is strategic and digitalisation process has a cost. Successful adoption, being the first issue, begins with dedicating human and marketing resources. Remember, your investment will pay.

How are you aligning with the new expectations for B2B sales?

The experience that B2B buyers demand calls for specific features and workflows. Getting customers and prospects to adopt online purchasing is much easier when you can offer multiple personalised user access and roles, 24/7 accessible customer accounts, custom catalogs and price lists, streamlined workflows, and propose payment methods required by B2B relationships. If a robust CRM is crucial for a 360° view of clients and track interactions at each touchpoint to support healthy customer relationships, an adapted payment service provider specialised in B2B, offering suitable services, the regulation compliance and a large board of payment methods, is just as important.

At Limonetik, we are specialised in payments and connected services. Our portfolio opens to our clients +125 local and international payment methods (B2C and B2B specific), not only bank cards. We are dynamic in integrating new payment options. As an example, ACH (Automated Clearing House) in the US, via PayWithMyBank, is now available through the Limonetik’s payment platform. Similarly to iDeal in the Netherlands, Giropay and Sofort in Germany, or Trustly in Sweden, PayWithMyBank is an online payments service that enables a US customer to pay a merchant with their online banking ID and password. Keep in mind that in 2016, 25.5 billion transactions and USD 43.7 trillion in value were made over ACH in the US, including 4.6 billion+ on the web. ACH is, in the US, one of the most utilised B2B payment methods.

We offer a wide range of services, from Pay In to Pay Out, but we are not an ecommerce platform provider. We collaborate with specialists as OroCommerce, a partnership signed this winter and not yet announced. They propose a B2B focused CRM and ecommerce platform. They can cover all marketing and workflow needs, including quick order and reorder options, the ability to order 24/7 even when businesses close for the day, online RFQ process, online order tracking, order history; however; they do not offer online B2B payment methods. Collaborating with Limonetik, OroCommerce adds the payment and regulation dimension to its offer. For us, this partnership with a company that proposes a strong and comprehensive ecommerce and marketplace solution is strategic. With it, we confirm our international positioning (OroCommerce is present in Los Angeles, Berlin and Wroclaw) and the relevance of our B2B solution. For our partners, we provide them with the possibility to offer a more integrated and fluid customer journey, a better responsiveness, and an increased efficiency..

About Christophe Bourbier

Christophe is a born entrepreneur and an executive with over 15 years of experience in competitive and disruptive strategy. Competitor at heart, captivated by international affairs, Christophe, before he founded Limonetik in 2007, had created different companies in High Tech and Communications. 

 

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