Merchants and manufacturers take note: B2B is here to stay, and it carries a remarkable potential to increase your turnover. However, due to fear of high programming costs that are slow to pay off, boardrooms are often quick to throw any idea of a B2B online shop overboard. But in order to remain a leader in modern trade, companies can no longer avoid digitisation. Here are a few tips to kick-start your journey into successful B2B trade.
1. Market research & benchmarking
You should first get an overview of the market situation. Market research is distinguished by primary and secondary research, where primary research involves a high degree of effort and expense. Secondary research involves investigating external and internal sources of information. The advantage over primary data research is that costs are kept within bounds and data can be gathered more quickly.
Examples of data that should be collected in advance:
- Current customer base - demographic data, touchpoint analysis over the course of the year
- Customer base of the future - demographic data, trend research
- Own distribution structures
- The largest competitors in the industry
- Sales structures of competitors
- Balance sheets and annual reports of competitors
- Industry turnover statistics
- Price lists of competitors
- Prices of potential new competitors
- Analysis of strengths and weaknesses
2. Establishing an eCommerce team within the company
When building your eCommerce team, think ahead of time which employees from your different departments should be involved in the implementation process and project itself. The implementation of an online shop should also involve input from parties outside the IT department. This includes the purchasing department, sales team and marketing department.
Think about how the responsibilities should be delegated. Should there be an eCommerce department of its own or should it be closely connected with the existing sales team? Weigh the advantages and disadvantages and decide which process best suites your individual business model.
3. Anchoring change management
Once plans are put in place, it’s important the entire workforce is informed about what changes they can expect in the near future. Show your employees the benefits of including an online platform in your business plan in order to increase acceptance early on in the project.
Some employees might fear losing their jobs due to the misconception that digitisation means machine will inevitably replace the human. The opposite is actually true – processes must be constantly evaluated and optimised through human intelligence. Especially in the case of products that require individual consulting, and an online shop is rarely able to replace the entire customer service department.
It must also be made clear to the sales team that an online shop can help increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. If your B2B shop is designed as an all-encompassing portal where the customer can order spare parts and pull up their customer data, this may lead to a reduction in workload for the customer service team.
Gather ideas, suggestions, concerns and evaluate employee feedback. Other employees may want to participate in the implementation and have expertise in certain areas you do not yet know about, which could be beneficial to the project.
4. Create a profile of your requirements
In order to define the requirements for your online shop, you should first gather an overview of all processes together with your employees and map the touchpoints of the individual departments.
Then look towards the requirements of your customers. What services do your customers expect throughout the consultation and purchasing process? Are there any reoccuring problems that could be solved in the online shop?
The “Business Model Canvas” is a great way for creating a clear presentation of your business processes, as it’s a template that can be used to centralise the nine key factors for the success of a business model on one page.
5. Finding the right implementation partner
Especially for companies with complex structures, it makes sense to contact an external partner. Shopware has a rich partner network of agencies that specialise in eCommerce and help companies successfully implement their projects.
When selecting a partner, make sure they have experience implementing projects in your branch. Look at their references and compare your requirements with the services they offer. Our partner listing provides you with an overview of the Shopware partners in your area.
In the best case, you have already defined a project team in advance that can be involved in the entire pitching process. The chemistry between the internal and external project teams is incredibly important to the success of the project.
6. Create a strategic marketing concept early on
Actually, the term "project" in connection with the implementation of a B2B shop is the wrong term, because a project has a beginning and an end. In reality there is no end to a fundamental change in the sales process, rather one goal that should be clearly focused.
With it comes to your strategic orientation, measurable, realistic and controllable key figures must be defined. These should keep your eyes on the goal and help you define measures and carry out a mid-term evaluation (and possible reorientation) of the sales strategy.
In order to effectively introduce your online shop with your customers and create acceptance, you have to start planning marketing measures will in advance. How would you like to inform existing and potential customers of the services offered by your new shop?
Next to case studies and customer reviews, which are particularly suitable for B2B business, you can market directly through your own employees. Provide them with thorough training so that they are prepared to offer your customers authentic advice.
Even if online business is not yet booming in your industry, investing now in a scalable system is absolutely worth your while. One thing is certain: digitalisation is an irreversible process. The Internet is here to stay.
With Shopware Enterprise, you can rely on an extremely powerful and highly agile platform to support the growth of your business. Find out how Shopware can serve your B2B project and learn more about the various enterprise extensions in our free whitepaper.