The eCommerce world is changing and creating significant opportunities for B2B businesses. However, successful B2B digital strategies take more than simply creating a web presence or opening a new page on your website. It requires a different approach – careful consideration and planning, and in some instances a different business model to be successful.
Magento’s B2B Commerce Best Practices Book provides merchants with the strategies and tactics to successfully navigate a digital transformation. Here, Redbox highlights some key areas B2B merchants should consider before embarking on their digital journey.
1. Executive sponsorship is critical
Becoming a successful digital company is about far more than just switching on a webshop. It is a total digital transformation that requires an organisation to rethink its operating model and embed the digital channel seamlessly within the overall operation. Ensuring C level buy-in and support is fundamental.
2. Formulate a clear digital strategy
Implementation of the digital channel must be in service of a clear digital strategy that supports and is informed by the overarching company goals and objectives. Whether those goals are to drive cost saving and operational efficiency or increase sales and improve customer experience (or all of the above), this should be the lens through which all functionality is prioritised. How does it support our business objectives? How does it help us better serve our customers?
3. Breakdown the organisational silos
In a traditional B2B business that is just embarking on its digital journey, business practices that have built up over many years will often need reshaping and business functions across the organisation must collaborate in ways that they might never have had to before. This can inevitably raise concerns across the business and generate resistance to the smooth transition towards a digitally-focussed business. Build collaborative, cross-functional teams and ensure that you are taking the wider team on the digital transformation journey.
4. Simplify for efficiency
Think about where you can simplify your business model to streamline the eCommerce rollout. In a traditional B2B business that has not yet embraced digital, many older business practices need to be reviewed in the move to online. Do you need that printed catalogue when you can publish more current product information online? Does every one of your thousands of customers need a bespoke price simply because your sales reps like to do a deal? While it can seem daunting to unwind business practices that are established as company lore, questioning and removing obsolete legacy practices can streamline your business.
5. Know your customer
Clearly identify your key users and map user journeys based on the needs of these groups (they can be customers or even internal teams). For customers, consider the full user journey from consideration to purchase and into post-sale and customer service. What are the steps needed to provide a seamless customer experience? What processes do you need to implement to support that journey? What functionality should you prioritise based on that analysis? For internal users consider the different roles and business functions that interact with the system. Consider how their roles will evolve as the digital channel grows. What can the system do to help them deliver a more seamless and personalised experience to your customers?
6. Don’t reinvent the wheel, leverage off-the-shelf applications
There is little justification these days to build and maintain monolithic customised eCommerce applications. A robust ecosystem like the Magento community delivers thousands of off-the-shelf solutions to support even the most unique requirements. Pick a platform and leverage what is available so you can focus on serving your customers and optimising your business.
7. Don’t delay; start today
Don’t aim for perfection with your initial website delivery. Prioritise key features as part of your Minimum Viable Product and get trading. The beauty of the digital channel is that you can test and learn in real time, and feed that insight back into improving your customers’ experience.