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August 19, 2020 COVID Stories

COVID Stories: Worcester's ten24 seeing online shift for B2B sales

In pre-pandemic times, many companies were still conducting business-to-business sales in person, by knocking on doors or developing relationships at trade shows. The coronavirus pandemic has changed all that, and Worcester software firm ten24 Digital Solutions is helping companies make a transition to online.

"The need for that online channel has really come to the forefront," said David Crouch, ten24's founder and CEO. "Businesses that saw it as a discretionary spend now see it as a necessary spend."

Photo | File
David Crouch of ten24 Technology Solutions

The company has changed a core e-commerce platform, called Slatwall, to be easier to implement and more affordable for companies that may be belatedly or reluctantly entering the world of online business transactions. Before, Slatwall might take eight months to a year to set up. Now, ten24 is looking to get the service up-and-running for a company in as short as two months.

Business-to-business e-commerce is expected to soar this year because of the pandemic, with the analyst firm Digital Commerce 360 B2B projecting in June such business would rise nationally this year by 10% despite what has become an economic recession that is crippling some industries. Last year, business-to-business e-commerce grew 18.2% to $1.3 trillion, the firm said.

Even when the economy — and daily life — go back to some normalcy, much of the online sales component is likely to stay, Crouch said.

Crouch co-founded ten24 in Northborough in 2008, and moved to downtown Worcester in 2014. The firm, which is now having its 32 employees working remotely, made investments last year Crouch said have enabled it to maintain flat revenue this year, at a time when many of its customers or potential ones might be struggling to stay in business or find it difficult to afford to set up an e-commerce platform to replace in-person sales. There's no dedicated sales team at ten24, leaving the firm to rely largely on referrals.

Companies less likely to conduct business-to-business sales online, such as in distributing or manufacturing, have been slowly making a move online, Crouch said. Some of that could be attributed to younger workers pushing those companies to adopt new technology, but the pandemic has forced the issue for some, he said.

"It's a gradual change," Crouch said.

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