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In my first blog about App Stores as new innovation hub for enterprises, I mentioned the possibility of consumer trends catching-up with enterprises.
Taking it forward, I am picking-up another e-retailer trend recently in news for this blog entry.

Whats the Buzz?

    Last week Snapdeal, one of the leading retail e-commerce stores in India entered into sale of online services, by launching the educational services on their store. The promoters were upbeat on the potential and this was followed-up with media reporting about eBay’s big investment in Snapdeal. if we analyze, online availability of services is not new as we see standardized services like travel, hotels, warranty, cab booking, car services etc., make a big part of e-commerce market. I see the challenges, more with non-standard and customized services and this market is slowly opening-up. This provides a huge advantage to various service providers.

Is this applicable for Enterprise services?

    I would think – “Why not?”. Over the years, we have seen that most of the consumer behaviours creeping into enterprise culture slowly and steadily. The thin line between buying behaviours of enterprise users from retail consumer is also dimnishing. Hence, it is important also for enterprises to benefit from this trend. In fact, it is easy for enterprises to sell their services as they are more reliable than buying one from consumer marketplace. Clearly, the cloud services are the first ones to consider. Enterprises should also look at non-software services like physical, on-premise, consulting, training, certification, maintenance, support etc., through the online sales model.

Bidding and Competitive pricing

    Some of the enterprise purchasers believe in lengthy bidding process to decide on the right services. The process involves long negotiations as well. On the other hand, if a service provider can either standardize or provide a detailed description of his service in his listing, the deciding factor could only be the price. The pricing discussions can be done through authenticated “Live Chat” options in the services store, in other words, there is a possibility of “bargaining”.

Example

     Working with SAP Store team for many months now, I can think of an easy example to generate leads for standard SAP services through the online channel. This video explains the process

SAP Store also provides an option to navigate to SAP Training and Cetification shop, where such services can be purchased.

Summary

      Though it is not new for enterprises to list and sell their standardized services online, I would think that this trend is still in nascent stage. While accepting the complexities of enterprise buyer behaviour( not many addressed in this short blog), it is still important to look at this as an opportunity and create an edge, as this will not conflict but complement the other existing sales channels. This can also benefit from the marketing options of the online store. I would expect that, the day is not too far when a company should be able to purchase a “service” online to provide the support to sell its own services online.

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