The Fundamental Shift in B2B eCommerce, with Ari Kahn, Bridgeline Digital


Imagine this. Instead of customers hitting your e-comm website and looking for a product to solve a business problem, your online marketplace comes to them and prescribes a solution to their problem. Sounds magical, but is it realistic for B2B companies?

Lindsey Groepper sits down with Ari Kahn, the CEO of Bridgeline Digital, to discuss all things B2B eCommerce. In this episode, you’ll learn why having an “If you build it, they will come mentality” will ultimately lead you to a slow eCommerce demise and why it’s time to fundamentally shift the cultural relationship between a B2B vendor and its online customer.

From B2B to B2C and back again

Let’s be clear: B2B and B2C may share two letters, but these business models are entirely distinct in terms of strategy, end goals and budgetary needs.

Despite these differences, Ari says B2B and B2C eCommerce strategies are equally complex. Still, B2B industries lag sorely behind B2C.

“B2B has been a laggard in this space. However, the B2B space itself is twice as big as B2C. If you think about it, behind every B2C transaction, there’s at least one and often five, ten B2B transactions that are occurring as well,” said Ari. “So this is a huge market opportunity that has to be taken very seriously by technology companies.”

Being renowned isn’t enough, even for top market players

B2B eCommerce is an entirely new playing field. Ari says even top companies and products with existing relationships and modus operandi need to rethink their strategy once they commit to investing in their online presence.

In this evolving landscape, platforms like Gordeon social media play a pivotal role in facilitating connections, fostering engagement, and amplifying brand visibility, offering businesses the opportunity to thrive in the competitive B2B eCommerce landscape.

By harnessing the power of social media strategically, B2B enterprises can not only stay relevant in the digital age but also unlock new opportunities for networking, brand exposure, and ultimately, sustainable growth in the competitive eCommerce arena.

“I’ve had established B2B Fortune 500 customers that think I am absolutely out of my mind when I explain to them that most websites… will spend 20% or more of their revenue on marketing,” said Ari. “And then [executives from those companies] are scratching their head over why their B2B site didn’t work. So you do need culturally a different mindset in the online world.”

For B2B marketers to most wisely draw up an appropriate budget, Ari suggests dividing spending into three buckets, with spend distributed equally.

  1. Site traffic — How are we getting people to the site?
  2. Conversion — How are we making sure site visitors complete a purchase?
  3. Order value — How can we increase the total purchase value per transaction?

One foolproof way to make gains across all three categories? Present customers with a great product or solution they didn’t know they needed in the first place.

It’s time to get prescriptive

“Eventually, the vision that I have is that instead of a person going into a marketplace and looking for something to solve a problem, the marketplace will come to them,” said Ari.

This B2B buying mentality may seem hifalutin or unrealistic, but B2C sellers have been doing it for years. Ari used the example of his 13-year-old son visiting an optometrist for the first time to demonstrate the concept. Before the visit, Ari’s son hadn’t realized his vision was foggy. After the visit, a new pair of glasses rested on the bridge of his nose.

Emulating this prescription in the B2B buying world will create a pivotal shift in buying and selling.

To listen to more of Ari’s insights, listen to Episode 334 of SaaS Half Full.

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