Strategy & Best Practices

5 Ways to Crack the Code for B2B Subscription Commerce Success

By Ideas @ AppDirect / April 14, 2020

5 Ways to Crack the Code for B2 B Subscription Commerce Success Blog

Is there anything left to learn about subscription commerce? The subscription model we're most familiar with today has been around for more than two decades. In fact, Netflix, long considered an industry pioneer, launched its first monthly subscription product back in 1999.

But now, as subscription commerce sweeps across the business world, it is becoming more complex—and presenting more complex challenges for providers looking to launch or scale a B2B subscription commerce strategy.

As a follow up to our recent interview with Emanuel "Bert" Bertolin, AppDirect's Senior Vice President and General Manager of Provider Services, we've collected some key insights on how to succeed in the rapidly evolving B2B subscription commerce sector.

For more insights into B2B subscription commerce, read our e-book, "Subscription Commerce 101: A Quick Guide for B2B Executives."


1. Don't get trapped by a "if you build it, they will come" mentality.

Too many times, companies, especially those that are moving to digital models for the first time, often believe that if you launch a marketplace to drive your B2B subscription commerce strategy, customers will bang down the virtual doors to get in and buy. As Bert explains, it simply isn't true. "A lot of people subscribe to this fallacy that if you build it, they will come. So you build a marketplace, you put your products there, you light it up—and nothing happens," he says.

Bert continues: "Many of these companies don't understand how to drive go-to-market programs and marketing campaigns in the digital world because many are used to a different sales motion. When you move to a subscription model, it's typically an online model, and you're not going to drive a lot of online revenue unless you understand how to drive traffic, conversions, and all of the other elements that are critical with online, digital transactions."

2. Find best practices and stick to them.

While every company is unique, the subscription model is well-established and offers a wealth of lessons to anyone who is willing to listen. "The nut has been cracked," says Bert. "Many companies that launch B2B subscription commerce strategies are innovative leaders, but they are not pioneers simply for adopting the subscription model."

He adds: "There is already so much knowledge out there, so it's important to research and understand B2B subscription commerce best practices, especially as they pertain to your industry and market. Whether you're selling software, or Industry 4.0 solutions, or whatever it may be, I guarantee there are already a lot of proven technology and techniques that you can implement."

3. Invest in an ecosystem.

Ecosystems are becoming the super-powered engines of the digital economy. They can help companies innovate faster and deliver more value to customers, which is why they are a must-have. As Bert explains, "Ecosystems are a massive opportunity, because one plus one equals three when providers and third parties work together to deliver more value to customers."

As Bert points out, APIs are the key to unlocking the revenue and innovation that ecosystems can drive. "We're inherently in a connected world where products need to work together, and when you can open your solutions with APIs, you can make that much easier. And if there's any lesson we can take from the consumer space, it's that when you create frictionless integrations and purchase experiences, technology gets adopted very, very quickly."

4. Pay close attention to the B2B user experience.

For years, business technology could get away with being hard to use. Those days are over. Thanks to a surge in easy-to-use consumer technologies, companies need to ensure that their B2B subscription experience is just as user-friendly. "Tolerance for bad B2B user experiences is dropping quickly, so the UX for business solutions is more important than ever before," Bert says. "We need to create consumer-like experiences, especially for things like subscription commerce ecosystems, where a user may go between providers, salespeople, resellers, and other stakeholders. The transition should be seamless."

5. Keep it simple.

Despite the complexity of B2B subscription commerce, the most successful companies will strive to make it as simple as possible. As Bert points out, "People hate complexity, so the simpler you can make your pricing, your billing, the purchase experience, the provisioning, the support—basically every aspect of your subscription commerce strategy—the more success you'll see."

He continues: "Friction is the enemy in B2B subscription commerce. If you take the time and invest in planning upfront, it will pay huge dividends as you transition your business to B2B subscription commerce."

Download our e-book, "Subscription Commerce 101: A Quick Guide for B2B Executives," for more insights into B2B subscription commerce success. 

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