How to get started with B2B ecommerce
Discover everything you need to know and do to get your B2B ecommerce project of the ground. Our step-by-step guide will help you to implement your first B2B ecommerce project with ease and help you to increase your success.
B2B ecommerce (business-to-business ecommerce) is the process of selling goods or services between businesses via an online portal or website. B2B ecommerce is traditionally used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a company’s sales efforts.
By specifically tailoring your ecommerce project to the B2B sector, you’ll be able to meet your customers needs more effectively, and in turn- achieve your business goals more effectively.
Generate UK is a friendly, dynamic, knowledgeable and experience agency that has been putting clients at the heart of everything we do for over 10 years. Our recent partnership with Oro Inc has lead us to develop our existing knowledge and expertise alongside a highly experienced B2B ecommerce platform provider to help clients see amazing success. You can find out more about Generate UK and Oro Inc’s collaboration here.
In this B2B ecommerce guide
- Define your b2b ecommerce goals
- Plan how you’re going to deliver your B2B customers’ needs
- Building the perfect B2B team
- Defining your B2B ecommerce MVP
- Integrating marketing and development into your B2B ecommerce strategy
- Utilising vendor knowledge to drive B2B ecommerce success
- Launching your ecommerce project
- Useful resources and guides for your B2B ecommerce project
Defining your B2B ecommerce goals
Before you do anything else, it’s very important to consider why you should start an ecommerce project and why your business (and it’s customers) need an ecommerce solution.
The best way to begin defining your B2B ecommerce goals is to think about your business needs and goals. You can do this by asking yourself questions such as: What are the advantages to B2B ecommerce sites? What do we want to achieve by starting an online store? What does success look like to for our business?
By brainstorming and considering questions like these you will be able to paint an idea of what you businesses B2B ecommerce goals could potentially look like.
Here are some examples of great e-commerce goals:
- Increasing revenue and/ or number of customers
- Freeing up time for your internal sales and support teams
- Reducing overhead costs
- Increasing the efficiency of the ordering process whilst also reducing the number of order errors
- Improving customer experience.
Planning how you are going to deliver your B2B customers’ needs
It’s not just your own businesses goals and needs that you need to consider when you start your B2B ecommerce project- it’s also important to consider the needs of your customers.
The success of your online store relies on your customers being able to find what they need and your experience of shopping with your business online. Therefore, it is imperative that you develop your ecommerce plans around your customers. To do this, you will need to think about what your customers are looking for and what they expect from your business when they’re shopping with you online.
In order to focus on your B2B customers’ needs, try to put yourself in their shoes by asking questions like: What do they need? How do they buy products? What experience are they likely to expect? What priorities are customers likely to have? What are the pinch-points for B2B ecommerce customers?
The very best way to find out what your customers want when they’re shopping online is to ask them directly. Creating a questionnaire or feedback form is a great way to do this and collect data effectively. Start with your biggest customers but ensure to also include a good mix of customers who are big advocates and users of B2B web stores, as well as those customers that are sceptical about ordering online.
Building the perfect B2B ecommerce team
Before you progress with your ecommerce implementation, you need to appoint an ecommerce manager. That is, someone that will take charge of your ecommerce project, and the accompanying team members. This person should have KPIs relating directly to the success of the ecommerce project. They should also have the authority to make key decisions and the skills to move the project forward, including the ability to gather people together and lead the team in a progressive manor to meet the business goals and objectives of the ecommerce project.
It is also important to incorporate members of your business from different departments. Your ecommerce manager should then involve stakeholders from other departments to form an ecommerce team. As B2B ecommerce touches so many, if not all parts of your organisation, you need to involve the relevant people from all departments.
Depending on whether you are a large, enterprise company or a small to medium-sized business (SMB or SME), your ecommerce project team can take a wide range of shapes. Larger companies tend to form internal multidisciplinary project teams which will help to shape the progress of the ecommerce projects within an organisation. These teams not only carry out the whole ecommerce project, but will also include support roles needed to ensure that the project runs smoothly.
However, some organisations will choose to employ an ecommerce agency to handle to project management, development and marketing so that the business can focus on delivering customers needs and procurement. This can also help to reduce costly overheads and increase success through utilising experienced B2B ecommerce agencies.
Defining your B2B ecommerce MVP
Think about what you want your ecommerce web store to look like and the features that it has to offer to customers.
Start by thinking about your B2B ecommerce must-haves. These are the minimum features and the functionality that will be needed to satisfy you and your customers needs. These minimum requirements are known as your MVP or minimum viable product. After you have done this, you can then think about any additional nice-to-haves for your project depending on your budget and the time available to complete and implement any additional functionality.
When you begin to define your B2B ecommerce MVP, consider some of the following:
- Ensure that your MVP aligns with your ecommerce goals that you should have previously thought about and planned.
- Make sure to only include features and functionality that you plan to use within the first year of your ecommerce site launch.
- You will also want to ensure that your MVP addresses some of the most common questions that you get from your customers.
- Be realistic about how much you and your team can accomplish within your internal and external resources whilst also keeping in mind your budget and the timeframe of your proposed B2B ecommerce project.
- Understand and make the most of the functionality and features that your chosen ecommerce platform offers.
After you launch your first ecommerce MVP, you can start testing it and gathering both internal and external feedback. This will help you to know which additional functions and customisations are really needed, and which ones you can potentially do without.
Integrating Marketing and Development into your B2B ecommerce strategy
Figuring out how you’re going to incorporate marketing and development into your B2B ecommerce project can sometimes be difficult because of the constraints and limitations of a new project within an organisation.
However, once you have developed your MVP you’ll have a good idea of what functionality and features you’ll need to be able to deliver the first iteration of your ecommerce project. It’s also important to think about how you can deliver success in your ecommerce project through marketing and development. That is, to plan how you’re going to reach your goals through paid advertising, SEO, email and other channels as well as the process of incorporating changes and optimisations to your store as it continues to evolve and grow.
An experienced agency such as Generate UK will be able to provide a strategic and creative approach to ecommerce marketing that will easily incorporate into your existing ecommerce strategy.
Focusing on deliverables and deadlines whilst also considering what success will look like by using existing information and data to create a structured MVP launch is vital to any successful ecommerce launch.
Optimising a wide range of aspects of your MVP launch including increasing the number of both paid and organic traffic reaching your site every month and optimising your website’s UX is vital to ensuring you meet your B2B ecommerce goals and objectives.
Generate UK has put together a handy ecommerce calculator tool to help you to estimate the success of your MVP launch and see what happens to your monthly revenue when you increase your conversion rate and monthly website visits which you can check out here.
Utilising vendor success to increase B2B ecommerce success
Your chosen ecommerce software provider is likely to have a highly extensive experience in B2B ecommerce implementation projects. They will also know what successful and unsuccessful projects will look like. So, making sure that you utilise your ecommerce vendors knowledge is vital to success!
It is always incredibly beneficial for any team working on a new B2B ecommerce project to consider asking their vendor questions such as:
- How long does a typical B2B ecommerce project take?
- What budget should I set aside for a B2B ecommerce project?
- How to I get my online content ready for my MVP launch?
- What do your most successful customers have in common?
For example, at Generate UK, we have a dedicated ecommerce vendor- Oro Inc. Which enables us to work hand-in-hand with customers to provide in-depth and strategic approaches to ecommerce projects.
This benefits our clients because not only will they receive highly strategic and analytical B2B ecommerce marketing strategy that directly aligns with their ecommerce project and site but they will also have access to first-hand vendor knowledge from Oro Inc. This partnership means that our clients are able to confidently plan and implement ecommerce projects.
Launching your B2B ecommerce project
Regardless of how much you prepare for your B2B ecommerce project implementation, you can never know or foresee everything. As with most things, working as a team and sharing knowledge is vital to seeing success.
By preparing well and planning out the most important aspects of your ecommerce project, you can begin to work with others to help develop and progress your project too.
Here at Generate UK, we believe in Digital Transformation and helping our customers to continually improve their marketing. Whether it’s developing an amazing website, laying the foundation for SEO, delivering campaigns to help build brand awareness or targeting a niche market to help you find that next big sales opportunity.