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Tips From a Lightning-Fast Launch: How GE Renewable Energy Scaled a B2B Commerce Site in Weeks

GE built a B2B commerce site in 12 weeks. Here’s what they learned.

In a recent survey of 350 B2B leaders, 94% expected their growth to come from ecommerce. And with traditional sales channels at risk because of pandemic-related restrictions, it’s absolutely critical to focus on selling online. 

But launching or growing your ecommerce isn’t easy. Even under normal market conditions, these deployments traditionally take months to execute. Today, you likely face a newly remote workforce, siloed systems, and uncertain economics. But GE Renewable Energy was able to build a B2B commerce site in 12 weeks. Here’s what they learned.

The problem: An outdated system

GE Renewable Energy’s products include wind (onshore and offshore), hydropower, and solar power solutions, and it had an outdated B2B ecommerce solution for its aftermarket Onshore Wind parts division. The company began to experience a decrease in online orders since their site wasn’t user friendly and had performance issues.

Although a majority of its commerce was still offline, GE Renewable Energy also had high hopes for their digital ordering portal. To make it successful, they needed to grow user adoption and activate a self-serve capability, so it could increase order values, make it easier for customers, and buy parts. This just wasn’t possible with their current ecommerce solution.

The outcome: An unexpected use case

The GE Renewable Energy team reached out to Deloitte Digital to help them build a portal using Salesforce B2B Commerce — and were able to quickly deploy to market.

Before they got started, GE Renewable Energy carried out market research to understand their customers’ pain points, segment their market, and hone in on a minimum viable product (MVP) that would meet customer needs and help them grow sales. While they had big ideas for their transformation, GE Renewable Energy started with that MVP and has been scaling and building on that initial success.

The team had a phased approach and defined what user stories would be prioritized based on the customer feedback. The project focused on the user experience for the first release and then scaled to the order processing and system integration in the next phases.

The new website benefits include:

  • Improved search: faster results and the ability to filter products through different categories
  • Better product information: users can check product availability, see specific pricing, identify obsolete parts and their replacements, browse for sub-components, and check detailed specs
  • Easily request quotes on specific parts and place self-service orders 
  • Faster response to customers due to automated order processing and status updates

The fast deployment was one success, but the true test would be customer adoption. On day one, the team began receiving orders through the new site. And after just one month, GE Renewable Energy saw that the majority of the users accessed the website at least twice per week, In fact, customers liked it so much, those using internal purchasing systems used the new B2B site to browse and configure what they wanted to buy. 

The insights: GE’s lessons to other B2B companies

1. Survey customers and base your roadmap on the results

The GE Renewable Energy B2B commerce launch didn’t start with the deployment itself. The team engaged a consultancy company to develop a market study, conduct several interviews with customers, and develop online surveys to gather feedback. They then used this customer data to understand the most common pain points, prioritize deliverables, and plan out the roadmap upfront.

“It took some time for us to define our strategy, but we wanted to understand what was really critical to our customers,” Marketing and Strategy Leader for GE Parts and Repairs and Universal Fleet Solutions Livia Miyabara said, “We deployed pretty fast because we’ve had a minimum viable product approach and divided it into different releases.”

2. Start with what your customers can see

The GE Renewable Energy team had a long wishlist of what it wanted to improve on its website. However, the research revealed that customers were having a hard time navigating the website. Therefore, the team agreed that user experience and search were the top priorities of the first launch — even though that meant that time-saving, behind-the-scenes improvements would be made after. 

“We really focused on the front end,” said Jeremy Altschuler, GE Senior Manager of Technical Product Management. “We had that very specific goal from the beginning, which helped us focus and move fast.”

3. Customer behaviors should inform future improvements

GE Renewable Energy based its deployment roadmap and priorities on customer feedback. But the team didn’t stop there. Once they deployed, they analyzed how customers entered the website, along with their journey and flow within the site, and details related to when and how they left. As a result, the team gathered data-driven insights that can help them evaluate what’s working about the website and how they can prioritize future improvements.

The next step: Start your own B2B commerce digital ordering portal

To stay competitive in an unpredictable business environment, it’s critical to capture your share of B2B commerce opportunities — fast. To help you get there, the newly launched B2B Commerce on Lightning Experience takes the power of our existing technology and marries it with the capabilities of the Salesforce platform to bring the most complete and connected experience to market. 

This makes it:

  • Faster to implement
  • Easier to use, whether you are a developer or business user
  • More flexible than ever to respond to ever-changing market demands

Learn more about the GE Renewable Energy story and get the details on how the new B2B Commerce on Lightning Experience can help you innovate with speed, scale your implementation, make regular updates, and connect with ease. 

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