Gartner Blog Network

Consumerization in a down economy

by Gene Alvarez  |  April 3, 2009  |  4 Comments

What a week! As the economy goes up and then back down, I am finding that more clients are concerned about thier web sites customer experience. I am not just talking about business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations. I am seeing business-to-business (B2B) organization looking to the web as a way to improve sales, build brands, work well with partners and much more. Many are asking questions like How to improve my partner portal? How do I offer a more B2C sales environment like some of the top B2C sellers for my partners? We want to run promotions, campaigns, product recommendations, self-service sales process such as configurator price and quote. I believe we will see more pressure on B2B organizations to offer a rich internet customer experience instead of old green screens over the web. Do you agree?

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Category: web-and-crm  

Tags: crm  ecommerce  ecrm  partner-portal  partner-relationship-management  prm  

Gene Alvarez
Research VP
11 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Gene Alvarez is a VP in the Gartner CRM Research organization. Mr. Alvarez has more than 30 years of IT experience in business impact assessment, vendor management, project management, software development and delivery of complex...Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Consumerization in a down economy

  1. Gene – I agree with your premise that B2B teams are looking to the web as a way to improve sales, build brands, and work with partners. Many B2Bs are “acting” like BtoC companies in terms of their strategies and web efforts. In fact we’re seeing clients such as OfficeMax, Kingfisher and Viking Range ramp up their B2B e-commerce operations in recent years, improving overall site experiences and creating features that cater to the unique needs of business buyers.

    It’s interesting to me that some are using the same e-commerce tools across BtoC and BtoB. For example, high-end oven and oven accessories retailer Viking Range is utilizing personalization and business user tools from a single toolkit to support both its B2B and B2C operations. Viking’s merchandisers can merchandize all of Vikings products including those that can be profitably bundled together as well as suggestions for their distributors (and dealers) for products that make sense to cross sell and up sell with other products. This extranet allows Viking Marketers and Merchants to sell to their Distributors and Dealers. Viking merchandisers can post and version control information relevant to all aspects of Vikings products (specifications, repairs, cleaning etc).

    Principles of targeting also apply in B2B. Audiences can be segmented and treated uniquely. Information and content can (and should be) be targeted and filtered using criteria such as account name, role, contract, and buyer profile.

    Thanks for bringing this issue to light. It’s an interesting trend and I expect to see more of it.

    Nina McIntyre, ATG

  2. Andrew Christmann says:

    I agree we are seeing that pressure. There is a growing expectation that the user experience working B2B will meet the expectations with B2C. The expectations of users in a B2B relationship are driven by the same disruptions that are impacting the consumer world: web 2.0, mobile devices and most importantly, ease of doing business. The way I interact with a large corporation in a B2B relationship has to keep pace with the way I can view product and research on sites like

  3. We’ve been seeing the lines blur for quite a while now as more and more companies are looking at using some form of RIAs and mash-boards to drive more value in B2B systems. What is most interesting to us is the use of these systems for Build-to-Order and the integration of CAD and PLM back ends.

  4. Gene Alvarez says:

    So what makes a site a B2B site? Payment processes, individualized pricing and product catalogs comes to mind for me. What do you think?

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