5 Key Components To B2B Digital Commerce Success

Mark Treshock

Businesses in all industries are embracing the benefits of selling to their B2B customers through digital channels – analyst firm Frost & Sullivan estimates that online B2B sales will reach $6.7 trillion by 2020. But many of these companies are unsure of where to begin and what’s important to ensure a successful transition to digital.

Here are 5 of the most important components to consider as you start your digital journey:

1. C-Suite support is critical

Change can be hard, especially for a business that’s been operating successfully for many years using tried-and-true processes. Selling online is a culture change in how business works. The C-suite needs to be engaged and publicly supportive of the project. They need to encourage discussion around the options and resolve disputes if necessary. The transition to digital is a marathon, not a sprint. Patient and supportive leadership goes a long way to making it a success.

If you’re a C-suite executive, how well are you supporting your digital commerce team? If you’re on a project team, how well are your executives supporting you?

2. Customer experience matters – even for B2B

There’s a misconception that customer experience is for B2C, and if you aren’t a retailer selling to fickle consumers, it doesn’t matter. The thinking is that B2B buyers are task focused, and not concerned with experience. This is a correct assumption, but the wrong conclusion. B2B buyers are task focused and e-commerce is their tool. No one wants a tool that’s difficult to use or frustrating.

Does your digital experience support what your customers want to do?

3. The people and processes need to be updated and aligned

There’s more to selling online than just implementing software. Creating an effective digital commerce business requires changes in business process and alignment of the people in your organization who support them. In addition to IT, the areas of marketing, finance, sales, and service need to be on board as well.

Have you aligned the process and people to manage and support the online channels?

4. Start small, but start

Change is the new norm, and figuring out where to start a digital project and how much project scope to take on, can be confusing. If the project is too big it runs the risk of becoming a white elephant. If it’s too limited, it won’t demonstrate the true value of the digital channel. The key is to start with something basic, but big enough to demonstrate the value of digital to your organization and customers. Make sure you measure the results! The first project should make the case for the second, the second for the third, and so on.

How will you measure the success of your project to your organization and your customers?

5. Don’t forget training

Marketing, merchandising, promotions, site search, content management, and more can all be managed from within the e-commerce platform. Business users need training in these new tools to do their jobs effectively. The IT team may also need developer and admin training to keep everything running smoothly.

Have you included training in your project plan and budget?

Curious to see how you measure up?

Take our e-commerce self-assessment to see how you can deliver the omnichannel experience:

For more information on the omni-channel experience and other factors driving digital transformation, download the SAP eBook, Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.

For an in-depth look at how the digital era is changing the business landscape, download the SAP eBook, The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

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Mark Treshock

About Mark Treshock

Mark Treshock is the Customer Engagement and Commerce Lead in North America for the Distribution Sector at IBM GBS. He can be reached at mtreshock@us.ibm.com.