The Ripple Effect of a Content & Commerce Approach to B2B

Jul 22, 2016 | Mark Troast

It’s easy to undervalue any part of a wholesale B2B e-commerce system that is not directly involved in capturing orders. Although capturing orders is a fundamental part of B2B, focusing on it exclusively can often be a sign of a limited view of what a robust B2B system can do. This results from using limited tools that neglect large facets of the sales process and reduces it to little more than a transaction. However, a modern B2B system requires customer engagement before and after the sale if you intend to grow your wholesale channel across all your accounts. In other words: you don’t just close a sale, you orchestrate a sale.

Unfortunately, many B2B platforms don’t consider the full scope of the selling process, choosing instead to focus only on the utility of the tool. These platforms may be competent tools for order placement, tracking and retrieving product information, but they fall short in terms of content and marketing. This is, frankly, short-sighted. Leaving content and marketing behind and focusing only on the final step of the sales process is like a conductor focusing only on the violins; without the rest of the orchestra performing well, the piece will not sound good, regardless of how perfectly the violins play.

At Envoy, we choose to focus on the whole orchestra. This encourages us to design and build our platform as a complete strategy. We believe a B2B system that includes content creation and distribution for marketers while providing tools to control the brand’s story does more than simply add convenient features to a toolset – it creates a sum that is greater than its parts.

We see the clear advantage of using a system that improves the entire sales process rather than just the completion of the sale. When you have a seamless transition from marketing through ordering, you retain more of your marketing magic because you’re not pausing to shift focus to a new system that has no memory of what your customer needs or is impressed by. Finally, by combining content and commerce in one system, you’re providing access and attention to all of your retail partners, regardless of location or business volume.

Linking marketing tools and B2B tools also provides many unexpected efficiencies. First, it is likely using digital marketing tools will reduce your need for print, and when you do need print, you’ll find that print-on-demand is a great option. Next, since it’s tied to your B2B system, your marketing content is updated automatically, so you won’t have to manually track changes between two systems. Finally, your marketing team is freed from constantly servicing the previous season while attempting to start the next one because they can create rules for the content to control your brand’s story. This allows sales reps to customize content they send to their customer without having to fall back on your marketing team.

What all of this results in is delivering a focused brand and product message that aligns with your customers’ unique needs while staying true to your brand story. Customers no longer have to sit through generic presentations built for the broadest possible audience - made in an effort to reduce the workload of an already overloaded marketing team - while being reminded by their rep that the materials are slightly out of date and that pending updates might alter a product’s appearance. Instead, they will see material tailored to them, updated dynamically and always accurate. And with the confidence in your brand that this gives them, they will have less need to wait and see - they’ll know what they’re getting when they order it.

B2B is constantly evolving. Utility, transaction-focused tools are becoming obsolete because your customers are expecting their professional buying experience to mirror the experiences in their personal lives: clean, well-designed presentation, accurate information and individualized marketing. To meet these expectations, wholesale B2B e-commerce systems must be able to orchestrate a unified and seamless sales process. They must also harmonize two aspects of your business that your customers see as a single action: deciding what to buy. At Envoy, we have recognized this need for a content-focused approach and built our platform around it.

Mark Troast


VP eCommerce Enablement

With 13 years of experience in solution enablement, Mark Troast uses his considerable experience to represent clients' interests while planning and executing the implementation of the Envoy platform.