Phase 1: Priorities, Plans and Roadmap
Define your business and technology needs for the site. B2B organizations are complex as a result of customers, ordering processes, product mix and internal systems. As a result of this complexity, B2B companies need to build a digital customer experience that includes:
- ERP Integration: this will likely represent a significant cost, both initially and in the long run. Tight integration between your eCommerce system and ERP is necessary to ensure real-time inventory availability across warehouses, pricing per customer contract, order status, order history and more are presented accurately and consistently for each customer.
- Simplifying complex products and product relationships
- Translating complex customer ordering processes online
- Extending the sales and service relationships online
If you visit each of the leading vendors’ websites or listen to their webinars you will realize how similar the vendors sound. You might be confused at the end of those presentations. Most of the enterprise eCommerce vendors have been around for a while and have robust capabilities. However, there are some essential differences between the vendors that could affect your decision.
First, understand what out-of-the-box is and what is customized. Often, the system demo-ed is a sales tool that has been heavily customized. After that, you’ll want to understand the key differentiators:
- Technology / Architecture:
- Java versus Microsoft
- ERP integration (do they have experience with your ERP?)
- Search and Navigation
- Personalization / Segmentation
- Product Information Management (PIM / PCM)
- Business Tools
- Time to Market
- Roadmap / Innovation
- My Account features and functions
- Ability to implement your technical, UX and designs requirements
Start creative the user experience and design of your site. This should be a data-driven exercise, drawing from what you know about your customers and your business objectives and the capacity of your selected platform.
If you have the time and capability, now is a time to do a Journey Mapping exercise to articulate who your customer personas are and how your website can best serve them. Apply the knowledge you have from your current site, competitive analysis, and best practices to create a customer-centric UX and design. Strong technology and tight ERP integration are important; however, it must work hand in hand with a clean and intuitive UX and design.
Take the time to present your customers with a strong B2B online experience around the following areas of your site:
Homepage & Product Pages:
- Homepage & Navigation
- Product Detail
- Category Landing
- Search Results
- All Product Categories
- All Brands
- Shopping Cart
- Request a Quote
- My Account Landing
- Open Orders/Order History
- Order Detail
- Shipping Addresses
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Locations Page
- News & Events
- Other Static Content Page Templates
- Product Category
- Product Detail
- My Account Dashboard
After you’ve selected a platform vendor who is experienced and understands your business requirements, then you begin what will be a lengthy and expensive phase: implementation. You will need to have resources dedicated to project management of the site implementation and to test the site. This can be internal or external, but it should be in addition to the actual implementation partner(s).
Before your site is ready to go to the public, now is the time to test your site. With a small group of users – from your internal team, with select customers, or with a hired pool of testers, you can reveal usability issues and opportunities to provide clearer pathways, better design or clarifying information. You will want to watch as your users complete some of your site’s key tasks. This includes:
- Search and find products
- Checkout process
- Product detail page
See our in-depth training on User Experience Testing.
Phase 6: Launch
Now that you finally have the site implemented, how do you get customers adopting (using) the site? As they say, this is not: “if you build it, they will come.” For this phase, you will need to give people the information and reason to be excited to visit your site. This includes:
- Internal training and communications
- Sales staff incentives
- External communications and promotions
- PR and marketing
- Customer service (e.g. email, phone and live chat).
- Start Search Engine Optimization to drive organic search traffic to your site
Find the Customer Adoption Framework here.
The benefit of your DigitalBranch is you can see in real time how your business is performing and why. Looking at your business plan, how is your site lining up with expectation? How is the site performing? Drawing from customer testing, surveys, and analytics, where can the site be improved?
- What tools can be implemented to support an excellent customer experience? For example: live chat, email marketing or onsite notifications
- What user experience can be tweaked to make it easier for customers to find products and checkout?
- What design changes can make your site easier to scan quickly for information?
- What content and marketing campaigns (email, print, SEO, social media) can help educate, inform, delight and drive your customers to purchase?
- Create a calendar to plan marketing and content activities
- Test and learn from new campaigns and initiatives
We think of this like building a house before inviting new guests in. Once your house is built, the trim is done, the fixtures are installed, the floor is finished and the pictures are hung, then you invite new people over. Having implemented, launched and optimized your site, now you are ready to start focusing on driving new traffic to your website. Start with a plan: define your target audiences, budget, and ROI. From there, create audience-specific content (webinars, landing pages, email and ad campaigns). Then develop creative ad campaigns (PPC, media, and social media). Finally, launch, manage and monitor your ad campaign.