Selecting a B2B eCommerce platform is no easy task, however by addressing the following 6 questions, you’ll ensure you’ve got a rock-solid foundation that’ll lead to a successful platform/vendor selection that produces results well into the long-term.
1. Have you written a business case?
Consider this your roadmap. Your business case should include a return on investment based on hard data like site traffic, conversion and average order value and soft data like reduced operational cost and cost per customer call.
Key takeaway: your Business Case needs to prioritise what needs to be done first and how the effectiveness of each decision will be measured.
2. Do you have solid understanding of an eCommerce system?
As they say, knowledge is power so it’ll pay you to be informed in relation to every aspect of eCommerce. Put the B2B part to the side for the moment and focus solely on understanding customer experiences, merchandising, getting your head around what out of the box (OOTB) means, promotions, product information, a shopping cart, orders… each of these make-up standard features that typically span across various platforms.
Key takeaway: there’s a lot of work involved so don’t attempt to bite off more than you can chew.
3. Are the IT and business elements and teams working together?
Any platform that is likely to work well for your organisation in the longer-term, needs to achieve that perfect balance between what needs to be delivered and how it should all be put together. Use cases, requirements and your Business Case all need to work together and should cover off merchandising tools (product relationships), experience management as well as architecture.
Key takeaway: your IT and Business crews need to work as a team and help one another out. See below.
IT: remember, customer experience is always a priority. Work out what your business colleagues require and why, as this is what will lead you to the tools that you’ll also need on-hand.
Business: acknowledge that your IT team is crucial to the B2B platform and may even have to work insane hours to make it all happen. Keep this in mind when taking into account what is out of the box and what the solution actually needs to do.
4. Have you detailed the requirements that are unique to both your industry and business?
Here’s a hot tip: when developing requirements, don’t simply focus on what makes you unique. Why? Simply because it’s difficult for any platform to provide all of those unique requirements considered out of the box and you don’t want to get stuck in a situation where it’s a race as to who can build your solution fastest.
Key takeaway: focus on understanding what’s out of the box and from there, how your company can customise a certain solution that has been deemed most appropriate.
5. Are you using Cases or RFP’s?
When you put your money and resources into building use cases, a project is less likely to turn sour. Develop use cases addressing standard features and others that will illustrate how you can customise the solution for your unique requirements. Your entire team should be involved in reading and agreeing with all of the use cases involved. Better still, everyone should be included in developing the use cases and constructively considering the merits involved with each. Oh and don’t forget to…
Key takeaway: question everything! Is this case going to make our customers job easier? Have we covered the entire user journey?
6. Can everything be integrated?
Ah, that golden word: integration. Put simply, integration is vital to your success as enterprise Commerce is one big ecosystem made-up of numerous back and front office systems. ERP, CRM, pricing engines, order management, Content Management Systems (CMS), product information (PIM) and so on – all should be considered during the integration phase. Prior to meeting with vendors start to understand your existing systems integrations capabilities.
- What integration methods can we potentially use? (i.e. Rest API, SOAP, XML/CSV Import Export)
- How about Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)?
- Are there any data quality problems?
Key takeaway: understand everything – integration options, their consequences, your environment and so on. Remember, vendors understand their software, while you understand your unique environment. Work together to achieve the best results.
Selecting a B2B eCommerce Platform for your organisation is tough going but start addressing these questions first to ensure the process is as seamless as possible.