Our Software Engineering Team recently headed to the Sitecore User Group Conference. They not only had a chance to enjoy the Spanish sun, but to crucially get the low down on what's coming over the horizon for Sitecore users, and what this could mean for the businesses on the CMS platform.
OrderCloud: the headless future of B2B commerce
We’ve been Sitecore Gold Partners for over a decade, and in that time we’ve witnessed huge progress as to how Sitecore's products can transform businesses.
We’ve also witnessed major changes in consumer behaviour which agencies like us, need to keep one step ahead of at all times. With regard to consumer sentiment but also with regards to the technical solutions that power the user experience.
Today, B2B businesses can’t rely solely on traditional offline sales approaches to generate sales. Buyer behaviour is evolving, and expectations have changed - influenced by their experiences as consumers. There is also increased competition from others who are implementing data-driven e-commerce strategies to deliver omni-channel experiences to maximise sales.
The technical solutions being implemented to support these changes in consumer behaviour are increasingly being centred around a SaaS based composable technical architecture. This approach maximises the agility to react to change, ability to select the most suitable technologies and freedom to tailor the experience for the end user. Headless commerce platforms are critical within this approach to provide the flexibility and scalability required.
As a result, the adoption of headless platforms is set to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 22.5% over the next 5 years and it is estimated that the market will be worth $5 billion by 2032.
Sitecore OrderCloud is a leading SaaS enterprise headless commerce platform and below we look at how its extensible architecture and flexible capabilities make it an ideal platform to support the needs of B2B businesses.
Many birds, one technical solution
Sitecore OrderCloud is designed around a MACH technical architecture: micro-service based, API-first, cloud native and headless. It is a comprehensive platform for B2B and B2C businesses to manage their e-commerce operations. That includes things like efficient management of product and catalogue information, complex pricing structures, customer segmentation, personalisation, targeted marketing, personalised pricing and tailored product recommendations.
OrderCloud supports advanced end-to-end order management; from order creation and fulfilment to shipping and returns (including multi-currency and multi-warehouse scenarios). It also provides tools for order tracking and inventory management. OrderCloud adheres to industry-standard security practices, encryption, as well as data privacy regulations. Not just that, it provides features such as secure payment gateways, user authentication, and access controls to ensure secure transactions and data protection.
Finally, its reporting and analytics capabilities allow businesses to gain deep insights into customer behaviour, sales performance, order trends, and other key metrics. This enables businesses to make data-driven decisions to optimise operational efficiency, identify areas for improvement and gain valuable insight to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Supporting complex requirements
Every business has specific needs and for B2B businesses operating globally across multiple markets with diverse customer segments, the sales process can be particularly complex. For example: negotiation, order customisation, multifaceted product combinations, bulk orders and multi-currency pricing tiers.
There can also be complex business structures that need to be aligned with and here are some of the ways that OrderCloud can support this:
- Multi-site and multi-tenant capabilities - enabling businesses to manage multiple storefronts for different brands and subsidiaries as well as regions or business units, all from a single centralised platform.
- Role based product management - allowing multiple suppliers to create and manage their own product catalogues.
- Inventory management - gives the ability to track and manage inventory levels across multiple suppliers.
- Order consolidation - streamlining processing and shipment by simplifying logistics and improving the customer experience by reducing the number of individual shipments.
- Order Routing - ensuring efficient order fulfilment by automatically routing the order to the appropriate supplier based on predefined rules or logic.
Despite all of that functionality, the e-commerce platform will typically only be part of the overall solution. There will be multiple other existing systems that it will need to interface with, for example ERP, PIM, CRM, payment gateways shipping and logistics providers. The complexity increases even further for global companies who need to deal with multiple versions of these systems, for each market.
OrderCloud’s headless capabilities, API-First approach, and extensive range of integration options (e.g. pre-built connectors, RESTful APIs, webhooks) provide the ability to seamlessly integrate with your existing technology stack. This includes, real-time data synchronisation to ensure accurate inventory management and streamlined order processing to rationalise business operations, reduce manual effort, and avoid discrepancies between systems.
Maximising sales through a unified customer experience
B2B customers are consumers in their personal lives and as such have become accustomed to the convenience, personalisation and seamless experiences provided by B2C e-commerce platforms. As a result, they expect the same level of ease and efficiency when conducting business purchases.
B2B businesses recognise this shift in customer expectations and are increasingly adopting B2C e-commerce sales approaches and incorporating more direct 'to consumer' strategies to meet those demands. This requires a greater focus on the customer experience as the buying process starts to become as emotional as it is transactional. To maximise sales, they need to adopt a more holistic omni-channel approach to provide a seamless, unified and personalised experience to customers across every channel.
OrderCloud’s headless capabilities supports an omni-channel strategy by providing complete freedom to create intuitive and seamless user interfaces and experiences across every relevant touchpoint and digital channel (e.g. website, social, mobile app, voice assistant), to meet the unique requirements of their B2B customers. It can also personalise this experience to cater to specific buyer segments or individual customers by providing the ability to customise the storefront and product information, provide personalised pricing, promotions and product recommendations.
This not only allows businesses to deliver highly personalised end-to-end buying experiences to their customers, but more importantly streamline their e-commerce operations, maximise sales and drive business growth.
If you would like to find out more about the Sitecore OrderCloud platform and how you could take advantage of it, then please get in touch.
Scale-up companies who are in their next stage of growth and looking to expand globally, find themselves in a complex transitional period. They need to remain profitable, maximise sustainability and retain culture all without growing their head count too aggressively. In this blog we explain how Sitecore can help.
Headless Content Management Systems are popping up all over the place – but what are they and why might you benefit from having one? The answer isn't simple and it depends on a lot of factors, but luckily Technical Architect, Andrew, knows a thing or two about it.