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WHITE PAPEREnterprise/B2B eCommerceStarter GuideSEPT. 2017eCommerce Intelligence
RÉUNIOND’ÉQUIPEWHITEPAPERTable of Contents01020304Prepare to Win or Prepareto LoseeCommerce Hierarchyof NeedsCustomer SimplificationDefining Phase One050610 Critical Elements ofB2B eCommerceAbout AbsoluneteCommerce Intelligence
Prepare to Winor Prepare to Lose.eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPERPrepare to Win or Prepare to LoseIn a world where GoDaddy promotes newand exciting web stores for 50 bucks amonth that promise to produce vast riches ina day, it is fair to wonder why an enterpriselevel B2B eCommerce transformationoperates at a completely different scale.Within any eCommerce initiative there arechoices to be made at each functional level as towhat can be accomplished quickly and“out-of-the-box” versus what will takeadditional work and customization toaccomplish.In fact, even within an enterprise levelapproach, there are different pathwaysvarious eCommerce agencies may propose.Some approaches are less transparent thanothers, and some approaches are simply notready for enterprise scale.Regardless of the overall ambition of youreCommerce mandate, one thing always remainstrue when it comes to your customers: Nobodylikes a hassle.In every eCommerce project, there is tensionbetween what is necessary to get startedversus what is necessary to build the “TajMahal” of websites.Your customers want their eCommerceexperience with you to make their lives easier.As you simplify their lives, they will reward youwith more of their business. Your customers arepeople, and people always gravitate to the pathof least resistance.eCommerce IntelligenceWe want that path to lead to you.
eCommerceHierarchyof Needs.Drawing Maslow into the equation might seem a bitacademic but the model delivers immediate andpractical application for B2B eCommerce execution.Just as Maslow identified the hierarchy of needs forhuman fulfillment, your eCommerce initiatives mustalso evolve precept upon precept in order to address ahierarchy of needs for your company.eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPEReCommerce Hierarchy of Needs1. Physiological Needs Survival / Presence (The base of the pyramid)The foundation (base) of the pyramid contains our basic needs. Just as humans need food and water tosurvive, your company must be present online or it will cease to exist.2. Safety Order / Re-order / Fulfillment / RetentionSafety from an eCommerce perspective means that your customers are able to find, configure, buy andrepurchase your products and services online: your catalog is showcased. No matter how complicatedyour backend processes, you must simplify the purchase process.3. Love / Belonging Simplified Service / Customer LoyaltyLove and belonging in the eCommerce realm arise from how you treat your customers. Are yousimplifying access to the information and support that your customer needs from you? If yes, you arefostering loyalty and protecting the lifetime value of that customer.4. Esteem Grow Market / Wallet ShareOnce you have simplified the core purchase and service experience for your customer, it is time toleverage advanced analytics and deliver customer facing tools that are personalized for the customersyou serve. This will lead to higher order values, more conversions and better margins.5.InnovationPace Setter4.Grow Market Share/ Wallet Share3.Simplified Service /Customer Loyalty2.Retention / Order /Re-Order / Fulfillment5. Self Actualization Innovation Pace Setter (The top of the pyramid)The days of being satisfied with fundamental eCommerce execution are coming to an abrupt halt. Inmost industries, there is at least one traditional competitor that is redefining expectations through anew level of eCommerce execution. On top of that, marketplaces like Amazon are inflicting pain. Onceyou get your fundamentals in order, you need to continually improve in order to stay ahead of the curve.eCommerce Intelligence1.Survival /Presence
CustomerSimplification.Shielding your customers from backend complexity.eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPERCustomer SimplificationEarlier generation B2B eCommerce sites were designed to display aproduct catalog and automate transactions, acting as little more than acustomer-facing window into a company’s ERP. Our first B2B clients, forexample, wanted us to take their print forms for completing an order byfax, and reproduce it online.These older sites may be capable of locating a product and taking an order,but they are not doing enough to help the customer. If anything, bad B2Bsites shift burden to the customer as they struggle to navigate throughdifficult options in order to complete a simple transaction. As aconsequence, sales suffer and the business absorbs unnecessary costs.In the age of sites like Amazon and Grainger, the standard for simplifiedeCommerce is already set. B2B organizations realize that they need toreboot their eCommerce strategy, because customers are growing lesspatient with the status quo.Customers vote with their index finger to point and click their way toother providers. Often, this revenue loss is exasperated by the fact thatthe losses are coming at the expense of the company’s highest margincategories. For example, when parts and supplies are not easilyassociated with your customer’s previous selections, then yourcustomer reacts like every other human being on the planet. They seekthe path of least resistance, and that path often leads them to Amazon,or worse, a direct competitor.As consumers, we have all experienced sites that are clunky and weird.Usually, when a site’s navigation is confusing, we get spooked and jumpto another provider. In exceptional circumstances, we may pick up thephone to work with a particular brand; but, most of the time we arequick to jump to another provider that makes our transaction easier.eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPERCustomer SimplificationEven though a B2B enterprise has the benefit of history, a contract, and negotiated pricing that insulatesthe enterprise from some immediate customer churn, that doesn’t make eCommerce execution anyeasier. In fact, in B2B, it is usually harder to meet customer’ expectations of simplicity, because thetransaction itself is more complicated. To get B2B experience right, we need to deliver thestraightforward approach of B2C eCommerce, while addressing additional relatively complicateddynamics like:InnovationPace SetterGrow Market Share /Wallet SharePHASE TWOB2B Dynamics: Multiple Sales Channels Complex, configurable products CPQ - Configure Price-Quote Customer specific pricing & catalogs Customer Side Spend Management Advanced customer administration Line of Credit and PO Purchasing Punchout / Round Trip Procurement Customer Side Approval Workflows Product Mix/ RegionalSimplified Service /Customer LoyaltyPHASE ONERetention / Order /Re-Order / FulfillmentSurvival /PresenceeCommerce Intelligence9
The PerfectPhase One.The concept of Irreducible Complexity is a bit high-mindedfor our tastes, but then again we already dragged Maslowinto it, so . . .eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPERThe Perfect Phase OneAddressing YourIrreducible ComplexityGood eCommerce is all aboutCustomer SimplificationWhen building an effective mousetrap, multiple parts must worktogether. If you don’t have a minimum (platform, spring, hammer) allworking together in unison then you don’t have a mousetrap. That’s theconcept of Irreducible Complexity.Whenever our agency starts a B2B project, we pull multiple executivestakeholders into a room and we focus on the customer personas thatvisit your site and the journeys they take in order to purchase productsfrom you.For B2B eCommerce to be effective, the concept of IrreducibleComplexity also applies. Multiple elements must work together in order tohave impact. For example, you can have the most beautiful site in theworld, but if your product information is not easily searchable and valid,then you will not produce results. Conversely, you can tie together all ofthe steps it takes to get a transaction processed and out the door, but ifthe interface is a scattered mess then it won’t work.For example, if your customers need you to support purchaseworkflows because one user of the site is a recommender while anotheris the approver of a transaction, then your site must have a data modelthat identifies the various roles of your users and support expectations,so that each of your client stakeholders is satisfied with a simpletransactional experience that is optimized for their distinct role andpurpose when doing business with you.No two projects possess the exact same threshold for irreduciblecomplexity; a frictionless transaction depends on what your customerneeds to accomplish with you.THAT is your irreducible complexity - you have identified “Phase one”.eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPERThe Perfect Phase OneThe B2B Buying JourneyThe typical customer-side eCommerce journey will typically fit into these 5 categories.0102030405Identify Problem & Need/ Digital MarketingResearch/ SEOEvaluation of Alternatives/ User Experience,Tools, MerchandisingDecision to Purchase/ Checkout TermsPost-sale/ Personal CustomerPortalYour customers need to evaluateviable options.Your customer wants to buysomething from you.Your next sale is an extension of yourfulfillment and execution post sale.Strategy: A strong onsite userexperience creates an intuitivereview process. Give thecustomers tools to easily compareoptions side-by-side. Conductmerchandising. Give them all theoptions they need withoutrequiring them to leave your site.Strategy : In B2B, your pricing andcheckout need to reflect thepersonal terms of that client. Youshould include rapid reorder tools,and the ability to uploadspreadsheets for more complexorders. Be sure to recommendoptions that add value.Strategy: provide a personalcustomer portal to track orders, payinvoices, report on history, etc.The customer has a need or aproblem they want to solve.Strategy: Either web or mobile,leverage advanced searchtechniques that get yourcustomers to the good stuff faster.The customer begins researchingoptions.Strategy: Search EngineOptimization directs the customerto your business. Providemultifaceted search options onyour site that are tuned for jargon,competitive product names, etc.eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPERThe Perfect Phase OneGrooming Your Phase-One PlanThe “C” in eCommerce is capitalized for a reason. Your digital strategy issimply an extension of commerce. It is all about customer simplification. Whenit comes to grooming your scope for phase-one, the primary considerationshould be centered upon the value added to your customer.From day-one, your customer should be able to come to your site to place orders, request quotes, check order status, review order history, receive relevant recommendations, and be notified with contextual alerts.They should be able to self-serve common tasks like reviewing or paying their bill, tracking an order, or managing a warranty.The tricky part of eCommerce execution is not so much the storefrontas it is the backend associations amongst products, workflow support,and customer context.Good eCommerce gets customers to the good stuff faster. It is personal,contextual, and relevant. To be successful, never settle for a generic“one-size-fits-none” approach. Center your project around thefoundational simplification human beings desire. After all, eCommerceis not really B2B or B2C, it is H2H - it is human to human, and humanbeings like things to be easy.C-Suite Who are the typical B2B buyer stakeholders that use your site?Often they fit into these 5 categories.eCommerce Intelligence
10 FoundationalConsiderationsfor a Typical B2BPhase One.Some projects require additional complexity but these 10 itemsare considered in virtually every B2B eCommerce initiative.eCommerce Intelligence
RÉUNIONELEMENTSD’ÉQUIPE10 CRITICAL10 Foundational Considerationsfor a Typical B2B Phase One01020304Deploy a B2B platform thatidentifies your customer topersonalize their experience.Modern search tools simplifyyour customer's ability tofind product.Your product informationcontent needs to beassociated in order toimprove sales on your site.B2B Order Processes are moresophisticated than B2C. Youneed to address minimumcomplexity to support yourcustomers' order process.05060708Your site should associate yoursales reps, distribution centers,and/or distribution partnerswith the client’s eCommerceactivity.The site needs to supportcritical communication thatyour customer expects fromyou.If you are global, then the siteshould be global too (butoften by phase two).If you brand multiple businessunits, then optimizeexperience for each one0910Your eCommerce shouldsupport punchout and/oroffer distinct client-sideinterfaces.Architect the site for the longhaul.eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPER10 Foundational Considerationsfor a Typical B2B Phase One0102Deploy a B2B platform that identifiesyour customer to personalize theirexperience.Modern search tools simplify yourcustomer's ability to find product. In most B2B sites, you will enable the customer to loginand/or automatically identify them so that you can tie themto a location or business entity and understand their rolesand privileges in the purchase process. Most B2C platformsdo not support this fundamental requirement, so be sureyour platform is optimized for B2B.For the vast majority of B2B sites, the platform must beselective in what it displays to the customer based on theiridentity. Their shopping experience should be populated withcustomer specific pricing, product mix, and terms that arerelevant to them. Your site needs a proven, multi-faceted search engine in itscore. It should include the ability to create synonyms and findthings based on industry jargon, competitive or alternateproduct names, and SKUS. Your site should associateproducts and recommendations quickly based on previouscustomer selections and order history.eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPER10 Foundational Considerationsfor a Typical B2B Phase One03Your product information content needs to beassociated in order to improve sales on your site. The ERP knows that a product exists, is available ininventory, is available for the client to buy in their region orwithin their contract, how much it costs at the contractedprice, payment terms, delivery expectations, etc. Today's modern architecture will often include a third partyPIM (Product Information Management) platform thatconsolidates the supply and enrichment phases of thiscritical information. Product information content (product pictures, associatedrelationships amongst products, recommended options, longdescriptions, bulleted/marketable short descriptions andspecifications, related media, etc.) can be added andstructured into your platform in a variety of ways. The level of ERP integration required in most B2B projects is usuallya significant portion of the overall service effort, because thesesystems need to work closely together. Your ERP remains your system of record, but eCommerce is thesystem of reference. The ERP is about fulfillment; eCommerce isabout experience and sales. The complexity of your product information, the amount ofcategories and attributes involved, the amount of content suppliersand stakeholders in your organization, the amount of special handlingexceptions or regional nuances if you are global, or the mix ofsyndication points tied to your product content are all key indicatorsthat will determine if your organization will benefit from a PIM inday-one architecture.eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPER10 Foundational Considerationsfor a Typical B2B Phase One04B2B Order Processes are more sophisticated than B2C. You need to addressminimum complexity to support your customers' order process. At a minimum, you need to support the methods ofpayment/purchase that your customer is entitled to use withyou by contract. If they are able to purchase with a PO and Net30 terms, then your site should support it. If you offer credit, there needs to be a way for your customerto assess where they stand in terms of credit with you, andshould be able to draw from that line of credit in the purchaseprocess (often referenced via the ERP). If you have location buyers, or end-user buyers that can makeselections, but require an approval from an authorized buyeron the account, then your site should support and automatethat workflow for your buyer. Your customer should have simple access to order historyand/or shopping lists to simplify complex purchases that occurmore than once. The system should enable your internal sales reps to set upshopping lists, and give your customer an easy way to set upand manage lists globally and by user. Historical purchases should include both online and offlineorders, so that associations, recommendations, and repurchaseoptions are valid.eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPER10 Foundational Considerationsfor a Typical B2B Phase One05Your site should associate your sales reps, distribution centers, and/or distributionpartners with the client’s eCommerce activity. The platform’s job is to amplify the ability of your sales rep tocover accounts, not compete with them. The site should allow reps or managers to offer specialdiscounts within parameters. Your sales reps should have the ability to intervene and assistclients with complex configurations and providing thecustomer with a simple “quick order” option. If you have a distribution center strategy, then the customershould be able to quickly access inventory and locationinformation related to their primary center and accessalternates as they seek to fulfill their same day order. Your site should have the ability to receive “Requests forQuote,” and share valid quotes with appropriate expiration. You should have options for delivery or pickup that thecustomer can select. The eCommerce platform needs to support proper analyticsthat associates your customer activity and outcomes on thesite with your sales reps or distribution channels. You should create and expose tools that help both rep andcustomer properly configure a product mix in a guided way thatis compliant with operations policy.eCommerce Intelligence
WHITEPAPER10 Foundational Considerationsfor a Typical B2B Phase One0607The site needs to support criticalcommunication that your customerexpects from you.If you are global, then the site should beglobal too (but often by phase two). At a minimum, your site should automatically sendtransactional order information through email and set theproper expectations related to fulfillment, and share anyadditional instructions or expectations that are valid in yourfulfillment process.Best practice is to include a personalized customer portal fromday-one, where all transactional information can be accessed.The information will include things like open invoices, servicetickets, order history, credit information, warrantyinformation, shipping confirmations and status, etc. You canstart with basics and build additional self-service tools overtime to reduce customer service expenses and improvecustomer satisfaction. Most companies choose to begin with a core region and growglobally. Your eCommerce platform should be able to interface withmultiple ERP’s, so that if you have other ERP’s in other regionsor lines of busin
The tricky part of eCommerce execution is not so much the storefront as it is the backend associations amongst products, workflow support, and customer context. Good eCommerce gets customers to the good stuff faster. It is personal, contextual, and relevant. To be successful, never settle for a generic “one-size-fits-none” approach.