Mobile e-Commerce in the B2B Sector

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While mobile e-commerce is trending for retailers, it also is a hot tool for business-to-business marketing. Stefan Schmidt, director of product strategy at hybris, a multichannel commerce software service provider, spoke to CRM magazine about why mobile e-commerce is not just a consumer marketing tactic.

Why should B2B marketers pay attention to this space?
In general, mobile B2B is a great tool for customer retention and loyalty, as well as for making processes on both sites more cost-efficient. For example, the B2B customer can keep track of budgets and costs, in addition to improving orders while on the move. As for B2B sellers, they can provide relevant information based on the B2B customer context, such as being at a certain construction site where only products from certain categories are required.

How do B2B mobile campaigns differ from B2C campaigns?
B2B mobile campaigns are even more tailored and personalized, since customers are better known and have access only to a specific set of products. Knowledge about budgets and projects may also help to make better, more relevant campaigns. It’s more about customer retention than acquisition.

What makes the mobile space attractive?
Since companies are people, too, they get more exposed and used to using their mobiles for research, as well as transactions. Hence, they will expect a similar flexibility in their commercial relationships, too. Time is also of the essence for CEOs and management. Anything that makes their lives easier will be greatly appreciated, meaning the more that they can do on the move, the better it is.

What risks and challenges are involved for businesses?
When business processes are already successfully implemented, the risk isn’t too big. Almost anything can be reused for mobile except the actual view. That, however, is the least complicated part. A big risk is when enterprises treat mobile as a completely new channel, rather than another touch point that can easily piggyback on the online channel. If mobile is treated as a silo, the shortcut will haunt them later.

What recommendations do you have for B2B marketers?
• Learn about your customers. Do they prefer the mobile Web? BlackBerry? iPhone? Are they still on Nokia’s Symbian? Mobile Web is certainly a low-hanging fruit and offers value to all of your customers.

• Figure out the best way to retain customers. Though acquisition is important, with B2B, more can be achieved when existing customers are happy and order more from you.

• How can you leverage what you know about your customers? For example, where are they? Figure out the context. What project are they working on? How much budget do they have left? Personalize your campaign to this external information.

• Refrain from creating a new silo. Although it would look like a quick and easy win, it would cost you money midterm and catapult you back into the e-commerce Stone Age. You should move forward, not backward. Find solutions that offer more than an iPhone app. Mobile Web, mobile barcodes, SMS, location-based services, and integrated customer service are all important pieces of the puzzle.

Associate/Web Editor Brittany Farb can be reached at bfarb@destinationcrm.com.

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