An Uber ride is an e-commerce transaction, but you don’t swipe your credit card before climbing out of the car. If you press an Amazon Dash button you get products delivered instantly. Now Elastic Path CMO Darin Archer is trying to help B2B organizations achieve a similarly quick, convenient and seamless way to conduct all manner of enterprise purchases.
Based in Vancouver, Elastic Path specializes in what it calls “headless” e-commerce, meaning it can use application programming interfaces (APIs) and other technology to allow B2B shopping experiences that don’t necessarily involve a traditional shopping cart process. Archer, who joined Elastic Path as CMO in April, said his focus is investing in content, social media reach and PR tactics to help educate enterprises on the possibilities available to them.
“We want to hit the friction point where there’s demand — where they don’t necessarily know what ‘headless’ is but they do know they have too many channels to manage,” Archer told B2B News Network. “They know they want product information in the content experience and to add commerce in there. For that, you need platforms like ours that are API-first. Marketers can take any platform to create experiences on their own properties or others’.”
In the software-as-a-service (SaaS) space, for instance, Archer pointed out that there are already firms like Slack and Box that have found ways to sell their offerings without an onerous e-commerce experience or a large sales team infrastructure. In other sectors, like manufacturing, firms are trying to create a more direct relationship with their end customers in order to avoid being displaced by the likes of Amazon or Alibaba.
Distributors, meanwhile, are searching for what Archer called their “Gillette” model, where a paint company, for instance, might identify opportunities to sell warranties or other add-ons the way a razor company generates revenue from blades. This is not unlike firms that once sold engines to airlines and now sell “engine hours,” whereby customers pay to have parts serviced, he said.
“We have customers saying, ‘Maybe this is not for all the products in our catalog, but maybe there’s a portion that we could sell digitally through some kind of marketplace or follow-on sale,’” he said.
Creating new lines of revenue based on these subscription-style offerings in a B2B firm often falls to a director of e-commerce, a VP of supply chain and fulfillment or someone in IT, Archer said. In some cases they have been tasked by the CEO to explore such opportunities as part of a larger digital strategy. Lead generation through content marketing can work for such prospects, but Archer said Elastic Path knows enough about purchasing — whether through e-commerce or more traditional processes — than to harass someone the moment they’ve downloaded a white paper. Instead, he said success lies in nurturing leads in a respectful way.
“Everyone has gotten tired from heavy sales approach,” he said. “Buyers do a tremendous amount of the research on their own, and conduct more of the buyer journey by themselves. Whereas at one point we would have tried to connect with them at step one, today we’re going to them at step seven.”