The Need for Speed in B2B eCommerce Industry: 5 Rules on Moving Fast

Companies that have already launched or are developing B2B ecommerce portals are interested in a good ROI (return on investment) for the project. Unlike B2C ecommerce, there are more nuances. For example, consumers are equal in their roles. However, B2B commerce consists of large key customers with special prices and long-term contracts, holding organizations with many companies under an umbrella brand.

The most common indicators that need to be addressed in a B2B ecommerce project are:

  • The target amount of online revenue for taxes and/or per calendar year
  • Percentage of customers buying online at every project stage
  • Percentage of online revenue versus total revenue at every project stage

Obviously, for a well-established offline B2B business, the share of online sales will never be 100% unless the company changes its business model to full ecommerce. Therefore, at that stage of the project launch, it is important to set targets for the revenue and the number of B2B customers who buy online as indicators of the project's success.

The need for speed in the B2B eCommerce industry is apparent. Virto Commerce experts have shared their 5 rules that help companies to accelerate the time-to-market and reduce implementation cost:

  1. It takes two to tango
  2. Build your user adoption plan and follow it
  3. Develop your B2B ecommerce platform step by step
  4. Build a customer feedback pipeline
  5. Organize teams that quickly solve portal problems

It Takes Two to Tango

The first rule of agility is ensuring that your team is flexible and can respond to customer behavior and quickly adjust strategies.

For employees of the customer's companies, your B2B portal would be a part of their workplace, so purchases should be convenient. Of course, if you offer specific niche products at an attractive price, there are only a few alternatives for buyers. Ideally, these employees will want to use the company site. With great reluctance, they may continue to use it even with a poor user interface or user experience (UI/UX). However, the latter will make them more likely to lean toward offline purchases or even leave the site for other suppliers.

Mind the usability of a B2B portal as a separate discipline of UI/UX in which the correct arrangement of interface elements should be combined with support for specific B2B logics and functionality.

Consider this win-win approach for customers and your goals as essentials for the success of your B2B ecommerce strategy.

Grow your B2B ecommerce business with a great customer experience

Build Your User Adoption Plan to Follow

User adoption is a necessary step for a company's journey toward digital transformation. Becoming a digital-first ecommerce company is possible if your customers accept the provided level of online services and the convenience it brings for making corporate purchases.

Start with a small pool of customers and with the following capabilities – the ability to browse previous orders, invoices, and payments, see order status changes, and manage related notifications. Don't leave your customers alone in trying to figure out all the possibilities and limits of your B2B ecommerce platform. That’s where account managers come in.

Account managers act as customer advocates within your company and participate in designing and presenting new services to clients. At the end of the user adoption program, account managers became trusted contacts for customers. They should present new opportunities to end customers as additional features for the current offline order process. Customers should be comfortable discussing their questions, problems, opportunities, and challenges with these groups of professionals, too.

Step-by-step Guide to User Adoption in B2B eCommerce

Develop Your B2B eCommerce Portal Step By Step

Users will more naturally start using your B2B commerce portal gradually as a core of the user adoption methodology. Switching to a ready-made solution at once can put too much work on your account managers and support team.

Always be prepared for bugs with a jump start of a full B2B ecommerce solution — unless the portal is developed gradually. Give your customers enough options on the portal to make a purchase. If they get to the end and cannot buy anything, that would erode user confidence. That is not at all in your plans, right?

Build a Customer Feedback Pipeline

People will share their user experience views on your B2B portal if they feel their feedback is important to you. Ideally, there will be plenty of reviews. Users will probably find some bugs that were not identified during the testing of B2B ecommerce solutions. Thank users for all feedback, adding comments, if possible, when you plan to fix a bug or implement a user-suggested improvement.

However, do not allow a situation where users find bugs so often that they feel like they’re working as bug testers for free. Every new feature in your B2B ecommerce platform needs to be internally tested in detail before allowing users to work with it

Organize Teams That Quickly Solve B2B Platform Problems

Create teams within your company with a high degree of independence. This team should be able to quickly respond to problems in the development of the portal. Some of the UI/UX ideas that you have planned to implement may not turn out to be useful to buyers; do away with those if customers find no value in them.

Keep this process under your business process pipeline:

- Business development groups

Business development groups form the strategic and tactical goals of the project stages and set tasks for marketing, developers, and support.

- The team of developers and designers

The team of developers and designers implements the UI/UX functions planned for each stage of the project. In coordination with technical support, they fix bugs found by testers and customers.

- Marketing groups

Marketing groups conduct promotion campaigns, create mailings and banners that inform customers about new functions and capabilities of the portal, as well as the expansion of the range of products available for ordering online.

- The support team

The support team helps users on the site, escalating bugs to the developers, as well as sending reports to the business group if users massively complain about some inconsistencies in the logic of the portal.

- The product group

The product group includes specialists from sales (account managers), marketing, and developers. This group is engaged in planning online product range, creating product descriptions, and posting them on the portal.

- The operations team

The operations team includes logisticians and warehouse workers who, together with developers, implement online orders into the company’s order processing pipeline.

For all these processes to move fast, teams should have the right to make their own decisions and the obligation to jointly discuss all these issues during weekly or even daily sprints. Later, when the online shopping process becomes routine for your customers, you can move teams on to a classic two-week sprint schedule.

Conlcusion

The experience of implementing Virto Commerce solutions among many clients has shown that a B2B ecommerce portal launch plan, properly structured by stages and time periods, is a key document. With the right plan and customer benefits in mind, you can successfully fulfill a profitable B2B ecommerce portal project, leaving your customers more satisfied with the time they spend online shopping for their organizations.

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Sergey Berezin
Marketing writer