Digital commerce has changed. Eighty percent of B2B buyers prefer digital ordering experiences over in-person sales — even in sectors where field sales models have traditionally dominated. And ecommerce strategy used to involve inter-departmental conversations with stakeholders feeling like they were rolling boulders uphill. Now, the C-suite plays a larger role in decision making and exerting influence over brands’ commerce agendas.
While capturing the attention of the C-suite is a positive development, it’s not enough to ensure the success of your ecommerce strategy. Lay the right foundation and you can better align ecommerce investments with your organization’s desired business goals.
1. Evaluate the business and define your ecommerce strategy goals
The best ecommerce strategies start with a firm grasp on the present. For a proper, thorough assessment, ask yourself about how you currently go to market. This will help determine the scale and scope of your strategy.
- How frequently do customers order products? Keep in mind that only 15% of B2B buyers want to speak to a salesperson when repurchasing the same product or service. Streamlining repeat purchases will create a better experience for loyal buyers — and free up your sales reps to assist others who may need more assistance and expertise.
- How much does it cost for a sales rep or distributor to process an order? This will indicate whether (and how much) automating the process can help you strategically cut sales-related costs.
- What’s the total lifetime value of a customer? If this number is far from your goal, consider ecommerce strategies that stimulate more frequent orders and push larger order values. Think automated messaging that reminds buyers to reorder and artificial intelligence tools to recommend related products or services during checkout.
Your answers to these questions will make it easier to identify the right metrics and evaluate performance as you build a business case. The answers will help a digital commerce partner identify a solution that works.
2. Align sales and marketing with your ecommerce goals
Make sure your organizational structure has the right people and processes in place to own, run, and operate ecommerce. For example, marketing will likely need to craft new messaging to attract target audiences to your ecommerce door. Your sales team will also be imperative to ecommerce success. As digital transformation reaches the shores of your business, sales and marketing will need to communicate more closely to move prospects through the sales funnel.
37% of B2B organizations growing their commerce channel agree that sales roles are evolving. 63% report that ecommerce has freed their sales teams from the logistics of order processing and allowed them to become strategic advisors.
Sales will undoubtedly take on new roles as your digital offering goes to market, so get their buy-in and remain transparent. According to our State of Commerce report, 37% of B2B organizations growing their commerce channel agree that sales roles are evolving. Specifically, the majority of respondents (63%) report that ecommerce has freed their sales teams from the logistics of order processing and allowed them to become strategic advisors.
By fostering better communication between sales and marketing, each department gains a clearer view of each other’s work. The bottom line: Teams need to have shared organizational goals and a shared vision to succeed.
3. Include decision makers from the beginning
C-suite executives aren’t the only stakeholders necessary to build an ecommerce strategy. As cross-functional teams get a seat at the table, the room can get crowded. The result? Decisions are slowed — sometimes to a grinding halt. To avoid this, establish decision-makers from the start.
Establish one representative from each team — IT, sales, customer service, legal, and marketing — to advocate for their specific needs. Use their input during your discovery phase as an outline to determine which features and capabilities are necessary for their teams to succeed.
Trade-offs between features, cost, and speed inevitably crop up in planning. It’s critical for everyone to contribute to these decisions so that a consensus emerges around the overall rationale for the project. Full organizational alignment is key to success.
Identify a trusted commerce partner
A solid ecommerce strategy can deliver significant benefits to your brand. Identify a partner with the experience and expertise to make your ecommerce goals a reality. Given the complexity of B2B buying cycles, the scale of orders, and evolving technology, a strategic partner can make all the difference when it comes to time-to-market and lasting success. Look for a commerce provider that offers seamless integration with your current CRM and other legacy applications.