The Top Three Mistakes Businesses Make When Implementing B2B Ecommerce
Far too often, businesses fail to invest the time necessary to develop a comprehensive set of criteria for their digital commerce system, based on a thorough knowledge of business goals.
B2B ecommerce has surged to become a major economic force in the United States, as well as an innovative new selling avenue in many traditional industries.
According to Forrester Research, the B2B digital market was worth $889 billion in 2017. That figure is expected to exceed $1.8 trillion by 2023. B2B commerce has silently grown to outnumber the more noticeable B2C ecommerce marketplace, accounting for 2.5 times the amount of B2C online purchases today. While it may come as a surprise to many, the volume of fasteners, medical supplies, electrical hardware, and other company-specific products sold online surpasses the amount of footwear, make-up, and music sold to customers through the Web.
Acknowledging this volume, an increasing number of traditional industry manufacturers and distributors are beginning to launch B2B ecommerce channels. Unfortunately, many businesses do not conduct adequate research before embarking on an ecommerce campaign. This leads to subpar ecommerce platform integration, inefficiently constructed organizations, and wasted opportunities, all of which create weaknesses and stifle innovation. This usually necessitates the need to re-platform, which can be a lengthy process.
By recognizing these pervasive blunders, you can escape the shortcomings, and enjoy the advantages associated with B2B ecommerce implementation. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three of the most common blunders businesses make when introducing B2B ecommerce—and what to do in order to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Failing to Clearly Define Your Requirements
All too often, I see businesses fail to invest the time necessary to develop a comprehensive set of criteria for their ecommerce system, based on a thorough knowledge of the business objectives. By doing so, these businesses significantly increase the likelihood that they will select the incorrect platform, preventing them from fully capitalizing on their ecommerce opportunity.
Getting started in eCommerce can be a time-consuming process, especially if you have not implemented a similar project in the past. The last thing you want to do is roll-back or scrap your B2B commerce project soon after launch because you made the wrong decision in the first place.
When so much is at risk, it is critical that you find the correct platform and strategic partner the first time—a platform that can grow with you for the next five to ten years, if not longer and a partner that can help guide you strategically and cost-effectively. The only method to guarantee this is done properly is to thoroughly document your requirements in advance. Include details concerning your buyers journey, key functionality, features, workflows, price books and discounts, project support, flexibility, integrations, and other aspects.
Because your company is unlikely to be an ecommerce expert, picking the correct platform from the outset can be a difficult and time-consuming procedure. As a result, many businesses consider outsourcing these duties to businesses that are professionals in the field. It does require more initial cost and time, but the return on investment and reducing risk quickly make it a worthwhile and viable option.
Mistake #2: Undervaluing Consumer Experience
I’ve noticed that B2B companies have a bad habit of putting up tricky-to-use ecommerce storefronts, add-ons to their existing ERP systems, and simply waiting for orders to show up. When they don’t, they either start blaming their clients or conclude that ecommerce isn’t a realistic choice for them.
They are incorrect on both counts.
When developing a digital commerce channel, it is critical to prioritize the consumer experience (UX). Today’s B2B buyer wants the digital user experience to facilitate their work and reflect consumer-like shopping experiences. How can you expect customers to use your website if the UX is badly constructed and the subsequent website is difficult to use?
Take into account that business buyers’ demands are shaped by their personal encounters purchasing from the world’s most advanced ecommerce sites. Retailers such as Amazon continue to raise the bar for online retailers, which includes your business, whether you want it to or not. While B2B websites must support B2B buying workflows and subtleties such as consumer pricing, custom catalogs, and billing on credit terms, the fundamental elements of a B2C website must also be included. Your ecommerce site will be ineffective if the search, navigation, item details, listing pages, shopping cart, and checkout are not streamlined to live up to the standards of modern digital buyers.
Customers will return if you invest heavily in creating a desirable UX.
Mistake #3: Failing to Engage Your Sales Team
Your sales force is tense. When they hear the term “ecommerce,” they immediately think of competing with others and losing commissions.
In the vast majority of cases, fear is unwarranted. Regrettably, numerous B2B replatforming initiatives are launched without considering the sales team’s input, at least in terms of planning and delivery. As a result, a large percentage of value is lost, and sales staff will fight against ecommerce adoption among your client base once your site is live.
In reality, ecommerce increases the sales team’s productivity by enabling team members to devote more time to strategic issues with key accounts. A good ecommerce website saves time spent on low-value, routine tasks like entering orders or responding to order status concerns. Furthermore, if sales team members are paid a commission on ecommerce sales made to their accounts, economic incentives are connected too.
Don’t limit your re-platforming efforts to a few senior executives or to the marketing division. Instead, make strategic use of your sales team. When selling channels are in sync, real value unlocks are available, and involving the sales team early in defining your requirements and setting objectives will improve your return when you launch.
Advantages of Successful Re-platforming
Every day, the B2B ecommerce market expands. In 2023, an estimated 17 percent of B2B sales are expected to be generated digitally. Consider what this level of sales penetration could mean for your company. Ecommerce sales are not only more cost effective to process, but they frequently have higher gross margins. Online sales frequently represent incremental revenue, either through increased share of wallet from existing customers or new customers.
Obtaining these outcomes for the business necessitates a substantial investment of both external and internal resources. Companies that prepare for and start executing on this opportunity, on the other hand, can see a real return on investment. If you do it correctly, you’ll soon be able to eat your slice of the pie.