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Sustainability in B2B E-commerce (Part 1)

Mark Kilsdonk, 03 May 2023

As mentioned earlier on our website, Acorel and SAP jointly started a Shopping Tomorrow expert group titled ‘Sustainability in B2B commerce’ to research how sustainability can be a business driver in the growth of B2B digital commerce. With a selected group of experts from various organisations we will cover this topic in the upcoming months and keep you posted on the outcomes.


The expert group, with Acorel as chairman and SAP as host, has organised this research under the flag of Shopping Tomorrow. We offer a unique community within the digital commerce domain to drive innovation and inspire the participants on trends and developments in this field of expertise. Shopping Tomorrow was initiated by in 2013 and is now yearly supporting a large number of expert groups, each focusing on their own topic.

As stated, our expert group researching the drivers of sustainability within the B2B digital commerce domain. And with this group we will cover the following questions:

Our expert group currently holds 18 professionals. Each of them working for different organisations in various roles. Roles in which they usually come across topics that combine the digital commerce (or more specifically E-commerce) and sustainability domains in a B2B environment. More information about our expert group can be found on the Shopping Tomorrow website!

Our sustainability pillars

As we are still in the early stages of our research, the first focus is setting up a foundation that we can use to model the subsequent steps. In that process we have been reviewing existing models like the sustainability growth path and the sustainable value framework. While certainly re-using elements from these models, our primary focus is to build our model on 7 ground pillars. These pillars cover the main aspects that companies will encounter when tackling the sustainability topics within their organisation:

The sustainability pillars

Maturity levels

Next step for our group is to enrich this foundation with B2B relevant real-life examples, practical use cases and inspiring ideas for each of these pillars. From there, we would like to see if we can define practical and understandable maturity levels for each pillar.

Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. Perhaps a common phrase, but certainly calling out for a need to define guiding steps or maturity levels. Existing sustainability maturity models do exist, like the model showing below, often showing multiple levels of maturity with increasing sustainable value in relation to a higher business transformation level.

Maturity levels with increasing value and transformation

And again these models will be used as inspiration, but we want our model to reflect that a company should build their own personalised sustainability roadmap that delivers value while developing maturity on multiple pillars at the same time. All that to ensure a healthy balance on their sustainability activities across these pillars and engage their entire organisation and its employees. Defining these maturity levels for each pillar is currently in progress and we hope to share insights on that in the near future!

Maturity levels for each pillar

Next steps

Next step for our group is defining the business drivers and the corresponding value from these pillars. And finally, figure out what role B2B digital commerce can and should play in addressing these sustainable drivers in these customer facing channels.

Would you like to know more about this initiative by SAP and Acorel at Shopping Tomorrow? Then follow this blog in which we will keep you posted on progress and the final results of this expert group!

Mark Kilsdonk

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