The real eCommerce challenge for B2B manufacturers & distributors

By |
September 1, 2018

B2b eCommerce Project Team

Now that B2B manufacturers and distributors are realising that they have to provide eCommerce experiences for their customers, they are racing to catch up and coming across an unexpected hurdle:

Attracting and retaining talented eCommerce staff.

If you’re traditional B2B company about to start your eCommerce journey, you’re probably looking at the project thinking your biggest challenge is building your powerful, beautiful and robust site. Yes, that’s a big job and takes some highly skilled pros to execute properly; but it’s kind of the easy part.

It’s finding the resources to manage, nurture and promote your eCommerce sales channel that is presenting the biggest difficulty for B2B companies.

It’s extremely common for B2B business owners and senior management to underestimate the time, effort and expertise required for eCommerce asset management. And when you think about it, this makes sense, as these types of digital platforms and experiences have never been a requirement for your business or industry until recently.

So you just hire someone right? Problem solved.  

Most B2B manufacturers and wholesalers will put ads out for an eCommerce digital professional or manager with an outrageous list of skill sets. You’ll have to sift through a bunch of wildly different applications which may or may not be lies – how would you know? You’ve never hired for the roles nor have you personally done any work like this before.

Most likely you will hire the first person who tells you they can do it all:

  • Platform strategy & management
  • SEO Guru
  • Google Adwords
  • Copywriting and editing
  • Content strategy
  • Social media management
  • UI/X design

While it seems like every second millenial you meet is involved in digital, how can you be sure they know what they’re doing?

eCommerce in a B2B company takes a unique understanding of your position in the market, and where you want to be. In addition, most B2B companies have some unique requirements and business rules that make doing business online not all that straightforward.

Most successful wholesalers and distributors have very limited digital knowledge. In any business hiring for roles you don’t fully understand sets off alarm bells.

Having the wrong team or not being able to hold onto the right team can set you back years and a lot of damage can be done without you even realising.

Expert eCommerce resources looking for work in B2B are rare.

The harsh truth is there’s a real shortage of eCommerce experts who understand the B2B eCommerce space. Why doesn’t this sector attract good talent?

To be perfectly blunt – it’s just not sexy. While eCommerce is a hot industry and the talent is out there, many of the hot-shots are often working for agencies, cool brands and big city corporations paying top dollar.

Location also matters. It can be extra hard for manufacturers and distributors that may be located outside the inner city suburbs as the talent tends to gravitate to areas which have an array of lifestyle options. Also, the products sold in B2B are often not sexy or understood properly by those outside the industry.

So how do you hire staff to manage your eCommerce business?

Acquiring your eCommerce capability is a huge investment in your company’s future and needs to become an asset to your business. In this space, having the wrong team or not being able to hold onto the right team can set you back years and a lot of damage can be done without you even realising.

You could hire an inhouse team of professionals you need; but you might be looking at a $250K – 1M per year outlay on wages depending on the size of your business and the complexity.

WHAT! I hear you shout. Well, here is the reality of the wage costs for digital resources.

  • Digital Marketing Manager: $100-150K
  • Senior B2B Strategist: $120 – 180K
  • Web Developers $80-180K
  • Content Managers: $50-70K
  • UI/UX Designer: $100 – 150K
  • Social Media Specialist: $60-80K

Our solution to the problem

We created an eCommerce as a Service model which is a partnering approach that allows B2B manufacturers and wholesale companies to use best practice eCommerce technology and work with expert eCommerce resources at an affordable price.

Our typical approach starts with the B2X Digital team being more hands-on in the implementation and management of your eCommerce business and then over time we help you build out your internal capabilities. This partnering and transition approach lowers your risk and ensures you get the right foundations in place from day one.

At the end of the day, you need to get to know what you don’t know without the pain of the opportunity costs of a bad hire.