Step-by-step guide to user adoption in B2B ecommerce

The proposed user adoption strategy is suggested for two categories of companies embarking on digital transformation. First, there are low digital maturity businesses wary of starting a huge ecommerce project from scratch. Second, our strategy is to help companies in the early stages of their digital maturity journey to move quickly through the adoption phase and launch large projects in the customer acquisition phase.

We especially wanted to emphasize why we created our user adoption strategy — according to market statistics, many B2B portal launches die without reaching ROI targets. Companies that have failed to adapt clients to ecommerce fail to achieve the required trade turnover. Clients bypass the B2B portal in every possible way and do not seek to place orders there.

The best results for engaging customers to B2B ecommerce should be achieved like sports training according to the principle of constant and gradual progress.

Towards new revenue sources through user adoption phase

In our blog, we have already emphasized that for successful B2B ecommerce every business should focus on customers' employees, who will shop for their company through B2B ecommerce platform.

It is necessary to avoid so-called shock user adoption when the customer's employees are confronted with the fact that they will now use your ecommerce portal in the way you envisioned and with the user interface (UI) you thought to be good enough.

Aside from negative customer experiences due to shocked user adoption, if a company creates a B2B portal from start to finish behind the curtain, and only then presents it to customers, the company is also thereby delaying the achievement of B2B ecommerce benefits, which can already be achieved at the intermediate steps of user adoption.
main challenges of ecommerce implementation

Salespersons are essential participants in the adoption phase. For many years, B2B commerce has traditionally been the practice of an in-person service with a smile and coffee.

Therefore, you must try to involve customers, who were previously used to personal service in adopting new ecommerce practices and help them with placing orders.

methodology practices

Customers should feel the attention and care of the sales team and their will to help choose the right products at the best possible prices. Of course, the sales team should be the first to try out the online commerce service, putting themselves in the customer's shoes and simulating a test purchase.

You can also ask a particularly loyal customer to make a test purchase and share a review of how logical the interface is and whether it is convenient to use the service. The customer feedback needs to be collected very carefully so that the developers [or implementation partner] can make a truly user-friendly service that matches the customer’s expectations and experience.

26-week user adoption strategy in B2B ecommerce

The proposed Virto Commerce user adoption strategy is designed for 26 to 28 weeks. However, this canbe shortened or extended depending on the company's experience in digital transformation and the capabilities of an in-house development team or implementation partner.

The proposed user adoption strategy is universal, but its implementation is onlypossible on a platform that allows you to run ecommerce services independently. Not all platforms have this functionality. We are delighted to say that with headless, composable and microservices, Virto Commerce can do this.

Each step within the implementation sequence results in the delivery of one or a few valuable services to end customers. Customer loyalty and engagement must be measured and feedback collected at each step. To keep customers satisfied and loyal, new services are only delivered when previous services have been accepted by most customers, at least 60-70% of them.

The general rules of the user adoption strategy assume that the first steps are quite simple and delivered within a few weeks after the adoption phase started. Your company can change the scope of the steps (for example, release services one by one more often), skip some steps or change theorder of the steps. However, each step involves technical activities and in-depth collaboration with end customers.

From the system architecture point of view, ecommerce services can be defined as a proven set for sequential adoption by clients. We suggest using the following groups of services in the adoptionstrategy:

The importance of user adoption for B2B ecommerce success

1. Initial group of services (weeks 1st to 3rd).

This includes customer authorization and the ability tobrowse previous orders, invoices and payments, see order status changes, manage related notifications. Account managers present new opportunities to end customers as additional features to the current offline order process. As customer representative within the company, account managers collect customer feedback and transfer it to the implementation team.

2. User management service (weeks 2nd to 5th).

With the sales team’s help, end customers can add users from within their organization and assign them permissions. Customers can track the status of the contracts (if applicable).

3. Re-ordering service (weeks 4th to 6th).

End customers can find a previous order in the business portal and retrieve re-ordering within a click. The account manager will do the rest, contacting the customer for other details and order processing. This step does not save costs for the sellercompany yet, but it allows customers for the first time to use a B2B ecommerce solution for ordering.

step-by-step guide for user adoption in B2B ecommerce

Step-by-step guide for user adoption

4. Online order confirmation service [approval by customer] (weeks 6th to 9th).

A customer can review and approve the order online and can see the order history. This is a crucial step in getting customers to understand that the seller's business portal is a tool for placing an order. The order created in a legacy ERP or any other such way would also be assigned to the customer, who must login, review the order and approve it. It becomes a pre-requisite for the order submission. If you have a formal order approval flow (like sending fax with a signature), it must be replaced with the online approval, but not added in parallel. When up to 90% of orders would be processed online for approval, almost all customers would be ready for transferring to ecommerce.

5. Digital catalog service (weeks 8th to 12th).

Product catalog with prices became available online with transparent and comfortable search and product browsing. After internal testing, account managers should stimulate their customers to work with search and filtering when making orders. This can be done by sending search parameters for the product so the customer can browse it in the portal, explaining “how-to”, etc. The step has to last till account managers report that customers use it as a useful and user-friendly tool.

6. Product recommendations service (weeks 12th to 14th).

Customers gain access to product recommendations to help them find products that are complementary or could replace the products they usually buy. The evidence that recommendations work well is that customers buy products they found thanks to the recommendation service. You should also ask for feedback to ensure the recommendation service meets the customer experience.

7. Cart, order draft and wish list service (weeks 14th to 17th).

Customers can create an order draft themselves (put a product in a cart). When they submit this draft, an account manager processes it in a legacy way and clarifies details if required. Then the customer provides order approval online. This allows customers to get used to order management and to work with the order drafts. The account managers will solve problems in order drafts if required, can work on it together with the client and collect feedback. This is the last step before actual online ordering can take place.

8. Order automation service (weeks 17th to 21st).

Customers get access to inventory information, promo prices. Prices and inventory are automatically locked into the customer’s account in real-time. The account manager still adds payment and shipment details manually if required.

9. Payments and shipment service (weeks 21st to 23rd).

In this step, a customer gets the opportunity to manage shipping options, payment options and online payment (if the supplier supports such kind of payment). You can use the success criterion if up to 70% of orders are submitted by customers online with shipment and payment details.

10. Final adjustment of the business portal services (weeks 22nd to 28th).

This time to implement extensions of payment and delivery methods, etc. Credit limits and other features of seamless transactions specified in contracts become available to customers online.

In the final phase of user adoption, the seller company is ready for the acquisition phase of the digital transformation: in other words, it is open for new business models, markets, revenue sources.

Account managers became trusted contacts for customers. Customers share their questions, problems, opportunities, challenges with account managers. Account managers act as customer advocates within the seller company, and participate in designing and presenting new services to clients.

Conclusion

This strategy of intensive user adoption solves the main challenge of implementing ecommerce:

  • most of the clients have switched online, making it possible to start investing in new services, products and business models.

  • the transition to “digital-first company” has been completed, with every client having access to all company’s products and services.

Contact Virto Commerce for more user adoption details and learn how to build a composable real-time B2B ecommerce platform for online access to all services provided by your company to corporate customers. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Contact our experts to learn more or reserve a demo of Virto Commerce B2B ecommerce platform

Nikolay Sidelnikov
Business Product Owner