One of the things that has always intrigued and inspired us at blur Group has been the evolution of e-commerce in the world of the consumer. And it’s always been our aim to replicate the experience that shoppers have grown to expect through Amazon and ebay in the world of business services. That moment has arrived. s-commerce is here.
When Amazon stated its intent to be the Walmart of the web, e-commerce was born and now it represents around 9%* of consumer retail spend. Quite simply, shopping models for consumers have changed and future changes will all stem back to the advent of the little e and the digital shopping cart.
Meanwhile in the world of b2b, its own shopping spree has been through what might be described as an evolutionary phase.
It began as businesses looked to outsource some of their core functions – the birth of outsourcing. Of course, companies had always used expert providers to deliver some services – whether it was the annual audit or the design of the company letterhead. But business process outsourcing moved the implementation of key services out of the company.
In the early days it was associated with IT but increasingly more back office functions were outsourced, and then the front office also moved out, and frequently offshore, as remote contact centers became the new ‘must have’ business accessory.
What it didn’t change was the procurement model. Business functions may have become leaner, but sitting at the head is the buyer of those outsourced services working with the company procurement team. And that model is really only relevant to the larger business. For the smaller business the idea of a separate procurement function, let alone some sort of Global Business Services division centralizing the entire cycle, is just a pipedream.
Technology has come into play to help that procurement team. Automated platforms handle the procurement process – from supplier management, rfps, running buyer auctions and negotiations and developing supplier lists.
But much of this automation is still about buying goods: the process for finding services suppliers remains decentralized and still as far removed from a commerce platform as the antiquarian bookseller is removed from Amazon.
How to pull together the desire for efficient outsourcing with an online approach? How to create the Amazon of the business services world. How to provide a way for businesses to buy services, whether they’re outsourcing an entire function or just need a supplier for a new project. Businesses need the services equivalent of e-commerce. And now blur Group is delivering it.
s-commerce is that equivalent. Services commerce means that any business or business function can buy any type of services in the same transactional and straightforward way that a consumer shops online. A one-off purchase, or an ongoing delivery.
And with the Global Services Exchange businesses have a ready-made s-commerce platform to make those transactions.
For many, it will bypass a protracted procurement process. The Exchange has already developed the supplier roster for eight different service areas. It’s our expert crowd and now numbers nearly 25,000 expert service providers in 133 countries worldwide. These expert service providers benefit from s-commerce as much as the buyers. Think back to the godsend that Amazon marketplace became for small vendors. Able to sell to anyone, anywhere. Now service providers have the platform that enables them to make the same leap.
The Exchange has also developed the process to support s-commerce – from stating the requirement (blur brief app) to final delivery and payment completion. A process that runs online – a simple streamlined, managed process. That can mean that the entire project is completed in less time than many traditional procurement methods would have spent to draw up a supplier list.
There are some differences from e-commerce. Given that we’re buying services and not items we have to reflect some of the procurement methods that business needs in this platform. Suppliers need to provide competitive pitches and build the auction element into the price range required by the buyer. Given that nothing gets shipped in a nice packaged delivery box, an s-commerce platform creates a ‘virtual shipping’ – the process runs in the cloud, the project is delivered through the cloud, and the physical delivery only comes into play if the service is about delivering something physical – the audited accounts, the printed posters, the employment contracts. And in a b2b play, it’s going to need someone to guide the process through – interacting with buyer and seller, and the technologies to drive the transaction.
Then there are areas to directly parallel e-commerce. Everyone knows that ratings and reviews make the buying experience more informed for products. So those are carried to service providers – and in the case of the Exchange, it’s about using this information to pre-select and further speed up the process to completion.
s-commerce gives business the services edge. No longer beholden to a fixed roster, or to a procurement process that fails to recognize the real need, or the urgency of the need. In a recent report on the strategic vision for outsourcing, KPMG suggested the new model for services procurement offered the enterprise as “Gaining greater access to talent, creating agility and ultimately enhancing the overall performance of an organisation are achievable benefits.”
Consumer to business commerce comparison
|Online marketplaces||Global Services Exchange|
The beauty of s-commerce is that this is achievable for all businesses, regardless of size, sector or location. The beauty of s-commerce is that there’s no longer any need to wait. It’s already here, it’s already being used, and it’s ready for your services requirement. We took crowdsourcing from the consumer by developing it to expertsourcing for the business. Now blur has moved commerce from the consumer to the business with s-commerce.
Try it! *From 2012 forecasts at retailresearch.org