For years the SaaS Market has not had a great solution for B2B… until Now. Bundle B2B is a SaaS application that offers enterprise-level B2B functionality to businesses of all types and sizes. It enables store owners to facilitate their B2B operations online and provide their B2B customers with seamless transactions and convenient self-service account capabilities. Alec Berkley, the co-found and director of business development with BundleB2B explain how he got started and how his solution will benefit B2B users.
With core capabilities that allow users to easily manage front-end and back-end B2B processes, Bundle B2B can be utilized to fit the needs of any growing B2B Commerce business and improve the B2B self-service experience for both store owners and their customers.
Brent: Welcome to this special B2B addition of Talk Commerce today. I have Alec Berkeley with me. He’s the co-founder and business development manager, business development superstar for bundle B2B. It’s a B2B ex B2B app for BigCommerce. Alec, go ahead and tell me a lot better than what I just said.
Alec: yeah. So we’ve been working with BigCommerce for quite some time. We started out as just a ranking technology partner and just offered our B2B extension for company account hierarchy. And then we just expanded out from there. And now we’re like a full mini B2B platform with invoice payment management, quote management.
Alec: And we are being resold by BigCommerce as their B2B edition. So that just happened in March of this year. We saw launched that and. We’re growing pretty fast and we’re working with a lot of BigCommerce merchants.
Brent: Great. And what type of merchant do you think best fits the bundle B2B and you call it an app or extension.
Brent: What do you call this?
Alec: We are a mini B2B platform. So we’re like a companion product for BigCommerce. It’s like a B2B extension for BigCommerce, I’d say.
Brent: Great. And what type of client do you think is the best fit for.
Alec: Yeah. So we find anywhere from pure play B2B to hybrid merchants that do both a combination of B2C and B2B all the way from SMB.
Alec: So first time online with some offline revenue and B2B accounts all the way up to enterprise. So we tend to play the best in the higher end of the SMB and the mid-market. Up until enterprise. And then when you get to the enterprise stage, you could still work with us, but you might require some more customizations and work done by a digital agency partner.
Brent: And are, I’m assuming most of the features are there or are there particular features that most clients are asking for that, that that are included and what are some of those feature? .
Alec: Yeah. So all the way from like the approval process of a B2B account, like I’m looking to do business with you, how can I get payment terms and better pricing?
Alec: Or if I submit that in the form of a quote, say, Hey, I want to quote for these 12 products, a sales rep can then go and follow up with me and. give me a deal for that one time, or then I’m converted into a B2B customer. And then as soon as you cross over that threshold and become a B2B customer, that’s when all of our features come into play for reordering and for invoice management and sales reps that are transitioning those accounts into self-service.
Alec: I’d say the objective for a lot of our clients is to be more efficient and transition more of their B2B accounts into that self-service model so that they can reduce manual efforts and increase efficiency across their organization.
Brent: You I maybe describe some of the motivations that you had around building this module and when did it start and what was the impetus to get going?
Alec: Sure. Yeah. My background originally in this industry was working with Magento open source, which in 2015 was one of the only options for this particular segment of new two online B to B that was able to get this type of functionality. So funny enough we really haven’t progressed. A crazy amount in terms of the features and functions that people are asking for.
Alec: We’ve just been able to decrease the total cost of ownership by 80 to 90% from there. The vision has never changed. It was to provide a, self-service easy to use B2B commerce portal. I think the platform changed to BigCommerce. And then as BigCommerce progressed with some of the things that they were offering from an API perspective, We were able to take it into overdrive and really progress pretty quickly.
Alec: I’d say within the last couple of years, we’ve started to see the majority of our traction with, again, those same merchants that we were helping back in 2015 on Magento open source with B2B extensions.
Brent: Yeah. And so you started with magenta one and did you make a conscious decision to move, to be to BigCommerce and not move into magenta?
Alec: Yeah. So we started with Magento 1.9 and we saw that, Magento two was coming out and we were able to gather that Magento was working on their own B2B functionality and the enterprise offering of that. And. Had a couple of options in terms of as a business, how we wanted to proceed and really putting the customer first, rather than our bank accounts and implementation fees.
Alec: So we were looking at BigCommerce and Shopify at the time, and it seemed that Shopify was more focused on the direct to consumer while BigCommerce was more focused on creating an API first platform and looking more at the ecosystem to provide. Direction for them. And so we got in there really early and said, look, this is what we’re looking to do.
Alec: This is the types of customers that we’ve been working with over here. This, this is what we’re looking to do with you guys. How can we get there and started out with custom projects and then eventually work its way into the brand that we have now is bundle B2B and in the technology.
Alec: Partner world. And again now as a part of their enterprise offering.
Brent: So are you seeing that let’s call ’em legacy clients are slowly moving into the B2B online world, and this is a good entry point. Are you seeing seasoned B2B companies who. Either are already on BigCommerce or they’re converting their store from some other platform onto BigCommerce.
Brent: What is the sort of trend that you’re seeing?
Alec: Yeah, that’s a really good question. We definitely see a lot of legacy. A lot of legacy customers that are on a specific E R P or specific eCommerce shopping cart that. has some integration capabilities. I don’t wanna call out specific ones. Shopping cars that are well integrated with different ERPs, but don’t have the extensibility or front end management and marketing capabilities that a SAS platform like BigCommerce or Shopify would have today.
Alec: So we see a lot of that. We also just see a lot. companies that never really had the budget or the vision to create an eCommerce site for B2B. And they’ve just been doing it over email and over the phone and directly keying orders into E R P systems or CRM systems. And they might have a customer portal that can show invoice data or something like that, but that’s about it.
Alec: And it’s just like a mirror into their E R P. It doesn’t really have. nice looking user interface to it. So that’s a lot of it. We do get the platform migrations. Those are usually tougher for us because they’re gonna come with, customizations likely on the previous platform and depending on where they’re at in that progression, the more mature B2B businesses.
Alec: sometimes are trickier for us. We work really well with the open-minded businesses that are tired of the legacy platforms and open to change and simplifying process or changing process a little bit to. save a whole lot of money. .
Brent: Are you seeing some platforms? Or some, I’m sorry, some clients who are rigid in their ways and you’re going to ha you’re gonna have to do some modifications to it or are there are, they are a lot of people open to the way you’re set up and how the, how your workflow is going?
Alec: Yeah, I think it depends on who you’re speaking with and how large the organization. I think in the larger organizations, the challenge that we find is in customer service and sales not wanting to retrain. They’re team members w with yet another system to process orders and service the customers.
Alec: That, that is usually the toughest part is the adoption of the sales team and B2B, the clients are typically owned by sales. It’s, it’s not like organic Google ranking that brings them, it’s the hard work of sales people and. Sometimes even sales folks see the e-commerce site as a, as competition once their client goes into self-serve, why am I still how am I going to be, needed at that point?
Alec: We do see pushback in that regard and with the smaller businesses, it’s usually just, getting all of their data in order. And they know that, I think since the pandemic and when physical kind of. Interaction was limited. I think that kind of, for a lot of the laggards that kind of shifted their mind to realizing, whoa we really ought to have some online presence, but in terms of how we get there usually the complexity is more in the data and a lot of times that goes back to the it guy that’s been with them for 15 years and, has to take it on his own or her own.
Alec: To do the project. So with the smaller businesses, it’s usually the loan ranger. It, that gets bogged down, the marketers are usually pushing for it. The CEO is usually pushing for it and it’s more of a data challenge. And I’d say with a larger organization, it’s more of a people challenge and a training challenge.
Brent: From a technology and integration challenge. What are the biggest hurdles that that clients would look to get over when they start installing or setting up the B2B portion of their business on top of BigCommerce
Alec: source of truth, right? It’s always gonna be source of truth. So if my source of truth is.
Alec: Not BigCommerce and it’s another system then, what’s the minimum amount of data that needs to go back and forth to keep my source of truth the source of truth, right? And not have two different systems to manage one for, my online customers and one for my offline customers or, phone call customers that are never gonna.
Alec: until there’s another generation of purchasing, never going to log to a website to order. Cuz I haven’t been doing that for the last 25 years. Why would I start now? Yeah, out that the source of truth and then the other part is just the cost, right? Nobody wants to spend extra money. So when the alternative is changing process to spending maybe, 20, $30,000.
Alec: to integrate, all of this data changing the process starts to sound a lot better than the integration bill. But they do need some minimum integration. I think that’s where our service partners really come in and help navigate that discussion. Architect, those sort of solutions and options for them.
Brent: Are you seeing customers struggle with the idea that they used to key in their orders into the E R P and now they could, they should key ’em into BigCommerce rather than E R P like, just any. Any other end user would come to your website order that those products go through that same workflow, get to get it into the system.
Brent: To have that, I think you had mentioned source of truth. So most of the B2B customers have an E R P system that’s running that should be their source of truth, at least from a skeleton standpoint for, maybe their skew, the description, the quantity, and maybe the price. And then.
Brent: The web front end is the way to show it to people publicly and and get the, and maybe beautify the product a little bit. Do you find that a struggle at this time?
Alec: Yes and no. So it’s not a struggle showing how much nicer the interface is going to be for them because nine times outta 10, BigCommerce is gonna offer a better user interface for inputting orders than an E R P system.
Alec: But the complexity, again, it just goes back to like things like customer specific pricing. So EOPS are gonna be a lot more sophisticated in terms of managing different price overrides. And if then, I might need to do, in some cases, do a dynamic call for a price to, to get the actual Value that’s needed for that particular order, depending on the volume or something else.
Alec: So if BigCommerce isn’t aware of that and the E R P is then they’re gonna be yeah, this looks really good, but I have no idea. I’m still gonna have to go and look up the price over here anyway, and then override that. So it goes back to the data challenge, I think from a presentation point of view.
Alec: Usually we don’t see a lot of pushback. We see good feedback with that. Whether it’s doing it through our quote functionality and converting the quote into an order, doing it from the front end, within a masquerade, or even doing it directly within the BigCommerce order entry. It’s just, all right.
Alec: So based off of this customer, do we already have the price list in BigCommerce or is it going to be a challenge, for me to figure out okay. For this particular order. , this is the pricing that they got last time. So I need to honor that, last invoice price or something to that nature, that’s where it starts to break down.
Alec: I think, is the price calculation in terms of finding the products and creating the order nine times out of 10, they’re gonna say, yeah this looks better than my current system, but is, I sound like a broken record. Is the data accurate? So
Brent: right. Yeah. You had mentioned some features earlier.
Brent: What do you see. Popular things that people maybe you don’t even think about, but would like to have. And I can just say some other platforms would have quick order requisition lists things like that are hierarchy of accounts. Are most of those features built in.
Brent: And is there certain differentiators that sets you aside from other extensions or even other. Platforms out there.
Alec: Yeah. So we’ve got all the, the quote to order the shopping list or what someone also called requisition list buy again, which you’ll see is a common one in, in, Amazon to go reorder your last ordered products.
Alec: We roll everything up to the company level. So whether, it’s you or me, that’s placing the order. It’s going to be rolled up at an account level so we can see the various. Skews if I’m placing the order this week and you’re placing it next week the masquerading functionality is the more unique one.
Alec: So we have that out of the box. We call that a super admin. So that could be a sales rep that can act as an admin in a set of accounts. Or it could be, if I manage, say like multiple different retail locations or franchises, I could log in on behalf of these different franchise locations and it creates.
Alec: that sort of ultimate view of a set of accounts. So a customer that can belong to multiple customer groups that’s a trickier one that doesn’t exist out of a box in a lot of platforms you can try with segmenting or tagging and different platforms. But yeah that masquerading functionality, if used correctly, it can be very valuable because you can quickly, even if you’re on the phone with a customer, you can quickly.
Alec: Basically everything in their account and it works for outside sales reps as well. I can just say, Hey Alec, you managed the west coast accounts. Here’s these 25 different customers on your dashboard, but this, you can place orders for ’em. You could view orders. You can view invoices, but only for them.
Alec: So you’re not giving them any sort of proprietary information in the backend or, orders from customers that I shouldn’t be seeing or competitors, things like that. So I’d say that’s probably if used, which again, Getting the sales team on there is its own battle. But if use, it can be a very valuable feature for both outside, as well as inside reps or people on the buyer side that manage multiple different accounts and oversee, different locations for job sites for that
Brent: And the features that you have are they, I’m assuming they’re customer driven. So you started you started the bundle B2B platform as custom integration with BigCommerce. And you found that, Hey, there’s more than one person that wants this. Have you continually added on features as you, as people ask for it and then it eventually goes into the mainstream?
Alec: Yeah that’s pretty much how we’ve done it. If any customers are listening to this now I’m sure that they recall conversations with me over the years, expressing their pains and challenges. And then, however many months later, realized, oh, you guys did that one so yeah, we’ve pretty much done it based off of customer feedback.
Alec: BigCommerce of course, is their product team and their sales engineers have given strategic business development team. They’ve given us a lot of. Insights and feedback as well in terms of what they’re hearing from their conversations. We try to send out surveys now because it’s more difficult with the volume that we have to hear from everybody in a one-on-one setting.
Alec: But that was for sure how it started was just very detailed conversations with customers that had very real challenges and very real business, revenue in BigCommerce that, Needed to be addressed basically. And they didn’t wanna migrate away, but they didn’t have the features that they needed at the time.
Alec: So it was really, it was like, am I gonna migrate to Magento or another platform? Or can I is BigCommerce gonna be able to offer all of these things? And I think we played a large role in elevating the features that a lot of these B2B businesses were asking for to keep ’em there. And then now.
Alec: even taking them from the platforms that they were looking at, going to way, way back then.
Brent: You mentioned API BigCommerce being API first. Do you have public APIs that people could attach to as well? If needed. And then do you recommend clients build out microservices when they want to customize.
Alec: Yeah, so we’ve totally adopted the BigCommerce, open API mindset in that, with every single one of our features, you’re gonna see the ability to access via APIs as well as being able to create custom fields. So on a company object, you can add additional fields to manage things like tax exemption, credit limit minimum order threshold.
Alec: On an invoice object, you can add custom invoice lines, cost lines to map with your invoice objects that you might have in other systems for quotes. Same thing, depending on, if I have to add a line for custom packaging or custom engrave or expedited shipping we offer flexibility there and server to server APIs, and the newer APIs that we’re offering are actually to support headless.
Alec: So it’s recreating the bundle account features outside of stencil theme and. Using our store for an APIs. That’s a huge push for BigCommerce as I’m sure you’re aware is, The whole concept of headless and, decoupled systems, whether that’s for performance purposes or for, content management purposes and marketing personalization purposes.
Alec: B2B is a little bit behind, I’d say in terms of their demands for personalized content. I think they’re just happy to have all of their data there. And again, I sound like a broken record with the data thing, but yeah, that, that’s our mindset is. You likely are not using our system as your source of truth.
Alec: You’re using it to present customers, the information that they need to see in order to get through the ordering process more efficiently and hopefully without having to call you. So we have to be pretty flexible when we’re being used in that way. like nine times that. Yeah.
Brent: you’re I’m assuming you’re targeting right now.
Brent: Just us and Canada. Or what is your target market for this extension?
Alec: Yeah, so we’ve actually made a pretty big push since the B2B addition into Mia and APAC. So we are offering multi-language we’re available in six different languages. We’re actually seeing some traction with the Spanish now, and I know you guys have good presence there.
Alec: The whole LATAM, I think, is a newer area for BigCommerce, but we’re starting to see traction. AMIA we are seeing a lot of traction. There. There’s some funky stuff that we’re working through. Like I just found out about a law in France where you’re not able to change an invoice after it’s been sent.
Alec: So you have to add credit notes and. One of my customers has been talking to us about that. So we have now Q1 roadmap or credit notes on invoices cuz you can’t change it. did not know that was a law. Things come up as you start going into those different countries and then your roadmap changes.
Alec: But yeah, we do want to offer our service globally and to the extent that BigCommerce is global, we already have, multicurrency, we’ve had multicurrency for a while. Yeah, the multilanguage we’re trying to prioritize there’s someone new languages. So we have to just look at the demand and prioritize the language packs from there.
Alec: And if we are doing the translation or if someone else is doing it and, putting it into the files and our system.
Brent: So you I’m just coming back to EMEA then do you run into problems with data or is all your data stored in BigCommerce?
Alec: So a lot of the sensitive data is we just push it over to BigCommerce.
Alec: We do have some information like the company name, but we’re GDPR compliant. So we’ve got, the user agreement to be compliant with the EU there. We’ve we have done what is needed to play over there. But yeah, we have had to get, red lines and stuff like that with some of the larger businesses over there with just making sure that, there’s no issues with how the data is managed.
Alec: But for us, it’s really just company name, email, and then a bill to, and a ship to address. We’re not dealing with any of the at least payment related stuff. We’re pushing all that through the BigCommerce system.
Brent: And are you seeing more requests for cross-border things that would happen shipped from one country to the next country as a feature request?
Brent: Or is there
Alec: something built in that helps out. In AMEA. Yes. It’s very rare that once you’re in Europe it’s very rare that you’re only selling one country in Europe. We had experience in cross border from some of the, China connections that we had. Back in the day. So a lot of merchants that are selling manufacturers, distributors in various regions in China that wanna sell into the us or other countries.
Alec: So we had that experience, but the within AMEA cross border is its own. Like I said, you learn about new laws. I think European laws are some of the trickier ones. APAC, everyone knows that it’s very difficult to sell into China, but outside of that it’s not. Too tricky. You’ve got the VA which comes up, but it’s VA is a hell of a lot more simple than sales tax in the us.
Alec: That’s one of the most complicated things you could ever try to tackle. It’s just why everyone just uses third party services for that.
Brent: Yeah. And I’m assuming that for a lot of those things you rely on the third party service to provide that information like tax or shipping and things like that.
Alec: Yeah. So we’ve in our quote functionality, the, one of the recent releases we did was you just integrated that with the with Avela, for the tax and then with shipper HQ for the shipping rates. So yeah, those can be populated from third party systems in the quote. And then outside of that, we just rely on BigCommerce, existing integrations with their shopping cart checkout that they have with Avela and ship or HQ or.
Alec: Tax star Verex as well as other shipping rate providers, I will say ship HQ is a pretty, pretty big stronghold on BigCommerce because they have their basic plan and Avela also has their basic plan baked into their enterprise. Both of those companies have a pretty good stronghold, I guess you could say the same with us, we’re baked into an enterprise offering.
Alec: So it’s like the three of us you’re gonna get when you purchase it. And then if you want to go with someone. In theory you could.
Brent: I don’t know if but Magento is unbundling everything out of their system and it would present you with an opportunity to attach your features to Magento open source.
Brent: Have you thought about anything like that?
Alec: We’ve had some requests, we get magenta requests, we get Shopify requests at this time. And for all the BigCommerce people that may be listening, we’re not entertaining any of those requests. While it’s technically feasible, we haven’t made any commitments to those platforms as of yet.
Brent: And just from a technical side, are you using GraphQL for your your API.
Alec: Not at the moment. It’s but we are planning to migrate to GraphQL for our APIs. That’s on the roadmap.
Brent: So coming back to, so some of the requests that you get out of OEM, maybe some of the more urgent requests from a customer standpoint, how quickly can you turn around?
Brent: Some, if there’s some urgent thing that, Hey, we either have to shut down our store or we can keep going. Have you, do you experience much of that? And then if you do how, what’s your turnaround time on something like that?
Alec: Yeah. So luckily we’re brought in at the beginning there’s usually three to four month project timeline that we have to work within.
Alec: So if we hear requirements that worry. That’s also hoping that, the project was before making the decision that there was some scoping done where if there was, there were things that were gonna be showstoppers, it could have been brought to us earlier, but our release cycles about three to four week sprints.
Alec: If I hear something today, it’s rare I can get it into the first one, but I can usually get it into the next one. So we can usually work within from when we hear about the issue within a couple of months, we could get. We could roll an update in and apply that update to the PO to the platform.
Brent: Do you have some kind of a a community board that, that you entertained features?
Brent: I know things like HubSpot has a community section and they’ve, everybody can vote on some features that they want to get into it. And do you have, do you let clients drive some of. .
Alec: Yeah. I think that’s the direction that we are headed. I think there’s a couple of things that, are, we’ve grown too fast type of problems.
Alec: One is a knowledge base, right? So all of the things that have been done with custom fields or like the various use cases that will come up where man, I really wish I had a solution for that. So it’s the knowledge base. And then I think the next thing that, that comes along with that is you provide the knowledge base to the community and then hopefully the community starts.
Alec: Feeding off of that and sharing information. For us, we went at the beginning of this year, I think we had around 65 customers, maybe a little less than that. And, we, not the year’s not over yet. And we are already pretty much at 200 customers, so we’ve more than doubled in less than a year.
Alec: So a lot of these things of, oh wow. We actually have scale shifting the mindset to, yeah. I can’t have a conversation with, I don’t know my customer’s dog’s name or their wife’s. So that’s a little bit foreign to us. Having been more of like a boutique offering for so long and now having volume largely attributed to the B2B edition trying to of shift that, that mindset to more mass communication and feedback.
Alec: I think there’s still some growing pains for us there, but we’re getting to it.
Brent: and just for your information, my dog’s names are Finn and SAS. Okay, that’s great. And Finn is a seven month old Jack Russell, Terri. A complete terror. That’s awesome. The so the features are I’ll just talk about scale and growth, so you’ve more than doubled.
Brent: Are you keeping up with it? Are you experiencing some labor shortages? Tell us a little bit about the, this growth and and how you’re keeping up with things.
Alec: Yeah, for us the big part of it, I think is. Training the technical people whether they’re internal or external.
Alec: So external being a digital agency, internal be I’m a developer for, company, ABC and I need to customize X, Y, and Z. For us, if everyone used the product out of the box, I don’t think that there would be. An issue, but in, in B2B and in eCommerce overall, out of the box is a loaded term.
Alec: I think everybody has some uniqueness, even if they’re selling t-shirts right. The enablement and the community building and all of that has been the biggest challenge. I think. So the customers all really what we’re offering, it’s just when they want to start changing it. Wondering how they can do that.
Alec: And then, alright if I change this, can I still upgrade or is this gonna mess things up? If I, I think in Magento could be attributed to, am I changing the core files or am I, everyone has, nightmares about Magento upgrades and. As a software as a service platform, you have your own, database and internal architecture that you don’t want to Jack up.
Alec: But in some cases, if a customer begs enough you’ll make an exception. I think we’ve had to start saying no a lot more as we’ve grown to say you know what you’re asking for can be done. technically, but, do you want to have access to our next six upgrades? Or do you want your upgrade, path to be more challenging?
Alec: It’s not that we’re not gonna be able to upgrade you, but now once you fork off of this there, there might be challenges associated with that. And sometimes they say, you know what? What you guys are doing is so cool. And I love you guys. I don’t care if I’m on my own version of your code, I’ll maintain it.
Alec: I’ll pay you more. Let’s just go and do it. It’s still costing me 20% of if I were to do the whole thing custom. So we’ll sometimes say yes to that, but it is a tricky. Yes. And, coming from the background of being so customer centric and wanting to. Help customers saying no to weird stuff is probably the hardest part of this stage of the business.
Alec: I would say that. And then training the ecosystem to customize just in general, on top of the platform. .
Brent: Yeah, I think that’s super interesting, especially the idea of forking what your original core code is, and then allowing a customer to cus have that custom. I’m assuming you maintain that still.
Brent: If you were to fork it and have this custom code, that’s running off on a fork and you, and then you help them to upgrade that, but you’re completely responsible for it. So it’s like a SAS pass. Version at that point. Yeah.
Alec: It’s like turning BigCommerce into a, in like a hybrid, cuz we’re extending it so far that, you know, Hey, I need these three new fields exposed on an API.
Alec: That’s not gonna require us to fork anything, but if the most recent one that came up is like a distributor management system. So like I could have five sales reps associated with one distributor. When a company applies based off of their zip code or country, I’m gonna assign ’em to a particular distributor.
Alec: So in order to accomplish that, bit of logic. You could either create another app for that and integrate it with our APIs. Or you could just build an additional tab in our app architecture that has it. So again we try not to do anything too crazy, especially nowadays with the volume, but that is, it’s a challenge to ride that line, knowing that you can essentially extend things further.
Alec: Just is this, is this gonna make sense to maintain I don’t know.
Brent: yeah, that, I think it’s interesting right now that API first approach and how people ha. It seems like it could be less complicated, but I think the only people that is less complicated for is the person who has written the core code, because they’re just providing the API endpoints.
Brent: Everybody else has to write some custom code or custom application that just like you’ve done with bundled B2B that runs alongside of it and continues to run with it. And. at some point, I think the challenge is if you are running all these microservices yourself , you have a whole bunch of stuff to maintain.
Brent: That’s theoretically in small little bespoke little pieces that are out there running on their own. So it’s like running, I don’t know, you could be running 20 different micro sites that all have to tie together and talk,
Alec: right? Yeah. That’s, that’s the. That’s the price you gotta pay to, hang with the big dogs, BigCommerce is a much larger organization.
Alec: They got customers with unique needs. Why do we exist is we can solve for maybe 70, 80% of it. But then what do you do with that 20%? And how does that get addressed? We push as much as we can to, to digital agencies and we solution with them. But at a certain point, yeah, you really have to evaluate, where things are hosted and, level of complexity, trade off of value scalability, cost of maintenance, all the things that you would evaluate and building something custom because you’re customizing a, SaaS platform that allows you to.
Alec: Do yeah it’s definitely interesting.
Brent: Is it a challenge to get to get BigCommerce? So you mentioned that you keep some of your data in BigCommerce. Is it a challenge to add a new feature that you need to custom place to put data? Or is that fairly straightforward from the BigCommerce?
Alec: Yeah, it just depends. I think right now our plan with data centralization is to just do a feed. Actually, we’ve already done this for a couple of customers. This is doing a feed into the Google big query. So BigCommerce has just launched their, big data initiative where you can, instead of just working within their own analytics, you can just export tons of information into Google, big query and it’s free.
Alec: And then, you can have another tab review with all of the bundle B2B data. But then in terms of how you’re. Referencing that and using it for, your marketing or personalization purposes, it’s gonna require, someone that knows what they’re doing with database schema. But rather than trying to create all the redundancy directly in BigCommerce, we’re just taking a page from their book and say, Hey, we’re just gonna dump all of our stuff over here.
Alec: You dump all of it over there. And then you just create the relationship models that you need. If I want to get something. Top purchase products based off of user, based off of company within a date range, we have the company information and the user but then they’ve got like the product information and.
Alec: You know the date that it was ordered and a week after some of that too, but it’s like why try to write it all onto their system where I can’t even control what data fields they have? When we could just all put it somewhere else.
Brent: sure. There’s a buzzword that’s going around right now called composable commerce.
Brent: Do you feel like you’re just going along with that whole new idea or old idea, or however you wanna look at it, but you’ve really, you’re now composing this part of it. Somebody else could come in and offer the content version of it, and then BigCommerce could be there with their cart version and suddenly composed a new solution.
Brent: That’s part of a bunch of smaller pieces.
Alec: Yeah. We’ve definitely toyed with the idea of creating our own little like mini customer portal, like directly into an E R P and then say, Hey, you want the shopping cart, you go tag on to your shopping cart. You want the CMS, you go tag onto that.
Alec: And again, that’s I think, where the industry is headed because so many different SaaS companies out there creating very specific solutions to solve for specific needs. And then you say at a certain point, we all have our APIs. And then you get Brent to come in and figure it all out. , I’d say, yeah, we’re definitely in that.
Alec: I hadn’t actually really heard that term, but I guess it does make sense in the context of what we’re doing and where we could go as a company, if we’re to start decoupling ourselves further from the shopping cart component and just focus on the customer data and the. Sales reps and the invoices and cuz we’re operating in between like a CRM and an eCommerce system right now and an accounting system.
Alec: Those three things are operating somewhere in between. All of them just leveraging a lot of things with BigCommerce that we don’t want to reinvent or deal with, like PCI compliance and product, data management and stuff like that.
Brent: Are I’m assuming that from a, like a payment standpoint, you’re allowing customers to do the specific terms that a B2B customer would need.
Brent: Is there any extra challenges around that?
Alec: There’s a lot of challenges around payment, but there’s also a lot of opportunity around payment. I think, to maybe skip ahead to what the opportunity is in 2022. I think, once, once these businesses have gotten past their data challenges and they’re able to present all the invoice data and information to their customers, what’s the next thing that they’re gonna start offering, which is, more PA more efficient efficiency around B2B payments online.
Alec: You’ve got a lot of tools out there that, you’ll use maybe pay your medical bill or your, you. It can just go and connect to your bank and, plaid. And I think some of these other platforms out there are offering that easy bank connectivity type stuff. Right now we’re just playing within the BigCommerce checkout.
Alec: So I think they’ve got Adin and blue snap as the two where you can do the bank payments within their checkout framework. And then. Everything else is just the usual players Braintree, Stripe, authorized.net, PayPal, Amazon, apple pay. So all that stuff is gonna be available within a BigCommerce checkout.
Alec: And whether that checkout is a B2B order or an invoice payment, that’s what we are keeping track of. So what kind of transaction is it and how do you reconcile it? But in terms of where we could go, sky, I think sky is a limit. Once you hold all that data. If you can just say, all right today it’s going through BigCommerce checkout next week.
Alec: It could be going, direct to a gateway, six months from now, I could change it back. There’s just a lot more flexibility. Once you have all your invoice information in sync and your customers being able to have the flexibility. To pay up to pay off those invoices. Whether it’s through the website or it’s outside of the website, usually businesses, they want to not pay for transaction fees.
Alec: So instead of credit card, they’ll usher them toward a better option that doesn’t charge two plus percent. So sometimes maybe that’s just mailing a check. Fine. People are still gonna mail checks, it’s free, or I guess, close to free. You got your postage there. As long as you use it.
Alec: Us PS is still around. That’s much longer, but Yeah.
Brent: You, we, you did mention what’s coming out in the future. Do you think that you’re gonna adopt more of the E R P things that are maybe some of the backend things that are coming forward into the front end and, or you think there’s just a mix of that’s gonna happen in the future?
Alec: Yeah, I definitely think we’re gonna continue to offer right now, the only E R P year we’ve really. gotten our hands dirty is Acumatica. We’ve created a base framework that communicates between, the Acumatica supported versions for commerce and our APIs. And so that’s the first one that we’ve created, like a reference design, I would say, and gone through the VAR ecosystem and started Going through the ringer.
Alec: There it’s been a challenge, but I think that’s ultimately the source of where we should continue investing is, with the E R PS, like dynamics, NetSuite, continue with Acumatica maybe even CRMs because that’s currently where a lot of these B2B guys are. Doing their, the majority of their business, right?
Alec: 80% of their business is usually done outside of any online system, if they have one. So if we can go there, make it easier for them to get the information. Least that their customers need initially, which is just, know, what’s my statement of account. How much money do I owe you? Even if I’m just gonna mail you a check anyway just showing the customer.
Alec: So I don’t have to call or, check my emails to see how much I owe Brent this month for my disposable masks or, slip resistant, mats or whatever. There’s all sorts of funny stuff that our customers sell. It’s all very supply chain, industrial. Type stuff, majority of which is that.
Brent: So as we, can wrap up here what is the easiest way for somebody to get started? yeah. What are the steps like you, you have to have BigCommerce and then what, tell us, and is there certain versions of BigCommerce that it’s gonna work on? Maybe tell us some of those steps that, that makes sense.
Alec: So the enterprise version of BigCommerce is gonna give you the price lists, which makes customer specific pricing a lot easier. So if a business already knows that they need to have priceless a for company, a priceless B for company B, et cetera. likely they’re gonna have to go with the enterprise plan, unless there’s some sort of real time price integration that’s done on top of a pro plan, which isn’t recommended, but it’s possible.
Alec: If you have more simple pricing where. You don’t have a whole lot of different options for different customers. Then you could sign up with a pro plan installer app from the app store and, get going. You can still use our invoicing system with a BigCommerce pro plan. So you don’t need BigCommerce enterprise to access our invoice portal and start receiving payments and doing the statement of account for different companies.
Alec: So you can start small with just a basic customer portal of invoice information and. As you start to see more traction, roll up the online transactions, which I think after 400 K a year, BigCommerce is gonna upgrade you to enterprise anyway. Yeah that’s pretty much how you would get started.
Alec: You could start a trial, a BigCommerce installer app from the app store. And start setting up companies and viewing, viewing the B2B functionality there. So I could get it done within probably 30 minutes and create a test company within five. So that’s how long it would take you to see what’s there.
Alec: We have projects that are sometimes almost, a year long, depending on the complexity, so yeah it’s crazy really with SAS it’s it could be a couple of weeks. It could be a couple of years. You never really know.
Brent: And is it I am hesitant to ask, but is it too late to get your store up and running before black Friday?
Brent: And I suppose if it’s B2B, it doesn’t really matter, right? Nobody’s gonna be doing black Friday B2B, or are you seeing people doing black Friday? B2B cyber Monday? We haven’t
Alec: B2B. Yeah. That’s a really good question. We haven’t seen it yet. I have a feeling that it’ll start at some point when more of them are online and whatnot, but yeah, we don’t really see the black Friday.
Alec: Craziness in B2B. We see the, Hey, I have a budget that is gonna run out before the end of this year. So if I don’t use it, I lose it. So you better get this done and whatnot before the end of the year. Again, usually it’s not our responsibility. It’s, whoever’s doing the integration in the, in the customization of the BigCommerce site.
Alec: We sit in a spot where, Hey, how can we help? But we’re not responsible. Which has its pros and cons.
Brent: Yeah. I think the beauty of SAS is that you can turn on something and have it up and running in a day and start using it or playing with it at least as even as a sandbox. So that’s fantastic.
Brent: Yeah. Great. Is there any sort of nugget that you can give a client looking into 2022 on what’s the hot topic on B2B right now,
Alec: start looking at simplifying your process and understanding how you can get all of your data out of your system into. another one, because if you’re hamstrung from that perspective, then it’s gonna be very difficult to to shift.
Alec: And it could put you at a disadvantage versus your competitors who have already found a better way to manage their customer information and data so that they can provide these portals for the customers that are asking.
Brent: All right. And as we final finish up here, I always give people a chance to do a shameless plug.
Brent: So you can plug anything you’d like today.
Alec: Go ahead. Yeah, I guess if you listen to this podcast, I’ll give you a 20% off an annual subscription, three months, all so I’ll
Brent: put all this in the show notes.
Alec: Yeah. Before the end of the year, 20% off list price on our website, if you do an annual subscription and I’ll give you three months for free.
Brent: Yeah, I was gonna start a store selling masks and non-slip bath mats. So that’ll be perfect. I’ll get 20%
Alec: off. How were those the first two things that came to my mind? I have no idea. Yeah,
Brent: that’s great. It must be something they’re using every day or do you use the mask in the. Maybe that’s what it is.
Alec: That’s a new one. Water resistant masks. Yeah.
Brent: Go. All right. Alec Berkeley, the co-founder of bundle B2B. Thank you for being here.
Alec: Thanks Brent. Take care.
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