Digital Transformation has forced companies to start making all kinds of innovations, and eCommerce strategies are undoubtedly one of the most in demand by managers, mainly because it offers an immediate return on investment. In fact, recent Salesforce research shows that 89% of decision makers in B2B companies are betting on business growth in digital commerce.
Now, implementing an eCommerce B2B strategy is no guarantee of the success of your strategy, nonetheless, by laying the right foundation, you can better align business investments with your organization's desired business outcomes. Below are some tips for better planning your eCommerce B2B strategy.
1. Define the process
The first step in strengthening your organization's trading strategy should be to define the e-commerce process. For this, the first step involves taking a closer look at your business and asking several questions about how it is currently going to market, such as:
- Which departments are involved in the e-commerce process?
- What are the times associated with each step of the process?
- How often do customers order products and how do I respond to those orders? Define an Inventory Management Process.
- What technologies are involved in this process?
- What are the business rules associated with each step of an eCommerce B2B purchase?
- How often do customers order products?
- How much does it cost a sales representative or reseller to process an order?
- What is the total lifetime value of a customer (Customer Lifetime Value CLV)?
- What is your Customer Journey and key process to increase sales.
Once you perform the diagnostics and your company process has been defined, the next step is to define the correct metrics to evaluate performance at each stage.
2. eCommerce Architecture
eCommerce B2B can offer significant benefits to your business, but given the complexity associated with B2B purchasing cycles and the evolving nature of technology, it is critical to identify the architecture of technology to make business objectives a reality. This architecture should be composed of some base solutions:
- E-commerce platform: You should consider the capabilities of the platform, the ability to grow, and the ability to integrate other components.
- CRM Customer Management Platform: Marketing, sales and customer services modules are needed to support the day-to-day management of an Electronic Commerce process.
- Integrations with Current Systems: An e-commerce architecture must integrate with your company's financial and accounting software, but also with external applications for viewing shipments, integration with payment methods, and others.
3. Digital Commerce Methodology
Here's the detail. Your technology provider will focus on selling you technology, but let's be frank, you won't be interested in whether or not your system is selling in two years. That's the truth, otherwise what was the sales methodology you implemented? Are you still providing month-to-day services to help ensure your strategy works?
On the other hand, what are the real strategic objectives of your company with e-commerce? It is common to diagnose a company's goals and find generalities, but not clear project objectives with specific metrics. For example, when we ask our customers what their goal with an e-commerce solution is, their answer is to "sell 20% through this channel" but that goal is not measurable unless a deeper analysis is performed. The analysis should tell a company what its customer really needs. For instance, a measurable goal would be to "sell 20% through the e-commerce channel, which represents a turnover of $2M per year, broken down into the categories...". Such detailed objectives do not usually exist in companies.
Technology adoption should be a complement to consulting, business process, the right platform, and a methodology that teaches you how to do it. There are many different methodologies. At Imagineer, we use approximately 65 different tools and choose the most optimal for a company according to the type of industry, the business objective you want to achieve and the tool technology used. Perhaps the most successful methodology for adopting a B2B e-commerce solution is the Inbound Marketing methodology. This methodology is ideal for B2B purchasing processes that requires a larger consideration process by customers, defines a customer journey of the customer, analyses the profile of the buyer persona, and creates strategies and specific content for the customer at each stage of the purchasing process. This methodology includes a monthly assistance, creating SLA between marketing and sales, assistance in the monthly sales process and monthly complementary services in marketing, sales and customer service.
The objective of using one of these methodologies is to jointly review (customer-supplier) that the objectives of its strategy are achieved. A surprising number of industries are prepared for trading transformation this year. In the consumer goods industry, major players such as GM, Pepsi, and Coke will transform the way they market to customers. As Amazon expands its reach, even industries such as chemical manufacturing are re-evaluating how they connect with distributors and customers.
Regardless of your industry, know that the success of a trading strategy requires the support of a consulting firm that is committed to the business’s evolution. Lay the tight foundation and get the maximum benefits from trade this year!