As a manufacturer, distributor, or wholesaler, how do you make sure you are gaining that competitive edge? In today's market, one way is by being a disruptive force in eCommerce. With many ways to approach a build-out of your eCommerce ecosystem, the two main goals should be around keeping customers pleased and efficient operations which will in turn aid you in standing out as a digital commerce disruptor.
With many B2B eCommerce technology providers now supporting stronger integration through API layers, it opens up many new options for building out technology roadmaps and ecosystems, including microservices and “headless commerce”. B2B must review the options in order to make an educated decision on what is likely going to work best for their environment and customers now and keep options open for the years ahead.
How do you start this process and how can you ensure you have a clear path going forward in order to be a B2B eCommerce disruptor?
Start by assessing your current state to get a strong idea of what is going to be required in the future and where gaps exist in your current strategy, technology, and user experiences. Review current site features, requirements backlog, defect frequency & change history in addition to auditing current site architecture, enterprise integrations, data flow architecture, 3rd party integrations, theme & platform customizations. When it comes to user experience, take time to look over current site design elements, style guides & visual designs to assess usability. Are these still in line with customer expectations- if not, what is missing?
After a thorough assessment and audit of your current state, dive into creating (or updating) your strategy and roadmap. As you work to migrate more of your business to self-service eCommerce from fax, email, and phone orders you will want to follow a strategy and roadmap for a new digital ecosystem. Strategy planning is essential to clarifying and communicating a vision of the future. It is a collaborative process that aligns leadership vision with tactical execution.
Echidna’s goal in working with clients during strategic planning is to help them recognize trends, identify market opportunities, define goals, execute tactics, establish best practices, measure progress, and continuously inform and improve your strategy. The roadmap comes in to provide perspective over time. Requirements identified during discovery are assigned to future projects for construction and release will be allocated to future roadmap phases to ensure you are constantly innovating.
It’s important to remember that while you may want to take pieces of what you see in a B2C experience, B2B is not retail. Buyers are going to be ordering multiple variations of products, large sets of products, and require personalized terms and contracts in many cases. By identifying and deploying crucial components to fix gaps like this in the customer journey, you will be on your way to designing and building a digital ecosystem to satisfy your customers. This means considering things such as the eCommerce engine, managing product data and web content, sales tax collection, and marketing automation software.
At the end of the day being a B2B digital commerce disruptor is all about creating experiences that delight your buyers and bring results. Having a clear sense of your current state, a strong strategy and execution plan will help you deliver on this. Customers still like personal service from sales reps, but the digital aspect is crucially important in order to keep their loyalty and be able to compete in today’s market. Commerce in the digital age requires companies to continuously innovate in order to keep pace and dominate the competition. Modern commerce systems must delight customers, empower employees, automate operations, and deliver strategic advantage and convenience to the people who use them.
Keep reading on the topic of B2B digital disruption by downloading our B2B Mobile Insight, which provides in-depth information regarding leveraging mobile-first features, progressive web apps, native mobile apps, and user experience best practices for B2B mobile.