Navigating digital demands: Your guide to B2B commerce success
If you’re a B2B company navigating the realm of digital commerce, read on as Kasper Knudsen, Senior Client Director at IMPACT Commerce, guides you through the steps you need to follow to make your transformation a success.
Two-thirds of corporate buyers now rely on digital and remote channels during their purchasing process (McKinsey 2023), and a significant 72% of B2B buyers initiate their journey online (Salesforce, 2023).
The reality is that as the next generation becomes influential B2B decision-makers, they expect vendors to provide a frictionless and consumer-like digital experience.
The baseline has shifted significantly in just a few years. It’s time for manufacturing and distribution companies to evaluate their potential and start investing in digital commerce.
Senior Client Director at IMPACT Commerce.
4 STEPS to succeed WITH B2B COMMERCE
With more than 25 years of experience with commerce strategy consulting, implementation, and optimisation, we’ve compiled a four-phase model for B2B companies to succeed with digital commerce:
In the dynamic landscape of B2B commerce, gaining insights is the foundation for success.
- Delve into customer behavior, understanding their motivation drivers, and identifying the essential jobs-to-be-done.
- Scrutinise your business goals, organisational structure, and processes.
- Evaluate the technology backbone, including IT architecture, platforms, and data.
These insights will serve as your compass for strategic decisions ahead.
With a solid understanding of insights, formulate clear business goals for your strategic roadmap.
These goals may range from enhancing customer satisfaction and retention rates to increasing revenue and optimising internal processes for cost reduction. Once you’ve established a set of business objectives, you need to:
- Prioritise digital initiatives for the next 2-3 years, considering the ever-evolving landscape.
- Anticipate organisational changes and develop robust change management strategies to ensure a smooth transition.
Successful B2B commerce is a collaborative effort.
- Establish a joint team comprising both client and agency representatives.
- Embrace an agile approach for seamless adaptation to changing demands.
This collaborative approach ensures that the implementation of your strategic roadmap is not only efficient but also responsive to evolving market needs.
Post-implementation, continuous tracking and optimisation is crucial.
- Monitor customer behavior, platform performance, SEO effectiveness, and the overall performance against your business goals.
- Employ conversion optimisation techniques, refine search engine optimisation strategies, and maximise the utilisation of customer data.
This continuous optimisation loop ensures that your B2B commerce strategy remains adaptive, resilient, and aligned with evolving market trends for long-term success.
Explore five strategic approaches for B2B businesses to harness their customer data effectively, boosting profit margins and enhancing customer experiences in our recent article here →
Benefits of starting with insights and strategy
The insights and strategy phase typically spans 1-3 months in total.
By anchoring your strategic decisions to a valid and data-based knowledge foundation, you’ll be sure your priorities are in the right order. With insight gathering and analysis, you’ll build a strong knowledge foundation, and you’ll enable your management group to make more qualified decisions, set a clear strategic direction, and prioritise initiatives for the coming years.
This evidence-based approach significantly enhances your chances of achieving real and ongoing business value – both short-term (3-6 months ahead), and long-term (2-3 years into the future).
Historical evidence shows that underinvestment in the insights and strategy phase can have negative long-term effects on your company’s return on investment. Moving ahead too fast also increases the degree of re-work in the future.
Once insights are gathered and your strategy is set, we transition to the implementation phase.
Implementing the solution: consider a Co-pilot
What might seem like the most straightforward part is where some companies tend to fall short.
Knowledge and experience with implementing digital commerce is essential to achieve a good process and result. It optimises your chance to meet the expected scope, deadline, and budget of the project.
Doing it alone is possible but can be tricky. It’s not just a matter of staff availability, but also of having the right capabilities involved. For this reason, collaborating with an external partner with knowledge and experience in B2B digital transformations can be a good idea.
It’s no secret that a successful implementation phase is highly dependent on experienced management and a close, mutually respected cooperation between your business and your digital partner.
The extent of a collaboration and which specific working model is most appropriate depends on your company’s digital maturity and specific situation. The digital partner’s involvement can extend from consultancy only, to full strategy and implementation.
A healthy digital partnership commonly extends beyond the implementation phase.
Continuous improvement and digital maturity
To get maximum value from your new solution, we recommend your team to continuously work on optimisations and feature improvements.
The positive side effect of this hands-on approach is that your company and your employees’ digital maturity level will make significant progress. The adoption of digital skills will become a valuable asset for your business to build upon in the future.
Also, employees will become increasingly competent in initiating and running new digital initiatives themselves. We experience some companies move from being reactive, to being proactive and digitally driven, by leveraging new technologies to support future growth.
The digital maturity journey is 80% about people, and 20% about technology. Change management is important. Having an experienced co-pilot by your side will help you stay clear of known pitfalls and make the journey less bumpy.
Before you jump in, it’s important to be aware of some often-overlooked aspects of B2B commerce.
Pay special attention to
It demands a strong comprehension of both upstream and downstream operations.
Making the move to digital commerce require change management, digital training, and onboarding of employees.
The influence of habits and individual resistance may be stronger than you anticipate.
Incentives and bonus schemes must be aligned to accommodate both digital commerce and traditional sales. If not, your sales staff will perceive digital commerce as a competitor rather than an enabler.
Technology is important, but your business and the customer experience aspects are equally essential.
Learn more about the mistakes B2B companies are making when it comes to commerce strategy in this article →
THE FINAL WORD
There’s never been a more critical time to invest in digital capabilities to succeed with B2B commerce. We hope that instead of sticking with the old way of doing B2B, you’ll feel informed and empowered to future-proofing your company, making your customers’ lives easier, and boosting your revenue by prioritising your digital transformation.
Are you considering getting started with B2B commerce?
Contact Kasper Knudsen if you want case examples and advice on strategy.