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salesforce.com Inc.

07/12/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/12/2019 10:59

B2B Businesses: How to Tell When It’s Time for a Digital Commerce Platform

It's difficult to cater to the diverse and complex needs of B2B buyers, who are often harder to pin down then their consumer counterparts. But across industries, at least one demand is resoundingly clear: easier, more convenient options to browse, research, and purchase products.

For B2B businesses, the ability to provide streamlined experiences is becoming a critical competitive factor. Eighty-nine percent of B2B decision makers tie future business growth to the success of their digital commerce platform, according to Salesforce research.

So what does that mean for you? Depending on your readiness and the needs of your buyers, it might be time to invest in a digital commerce platform.

Here are three ways to determine if you can and should take the digital plunge.

Gather customer feedback

Before doing anything, you need a comprehensive understanding of what your customers want from your business, and how they engage with it. Ask questions and listen to their feedback.

  • What are their frustrations?
  • How do they currently order your products and how can that be improved?
  • Do you find it difficult to reach your customers via phone calls or even face-to-face meetings?

These answers can determine whether or not you're ready to adopt a digital commerce platform. Moreover, they'll tell you exactly how to prioritize the features you need if you are building a platform.

While the idea of ecommerce might be overwhelming, it's easier to focus on how you can immediately help your customers with the features that are most important to them, whether it's self-service reordering, guided selling, or automated price quotes. Start with the basics and launch a minimum viable product (MVP). From there, you can improve and evolve your site over time.

Assess the scalability of your backend systems

Launching a digital commerce platform can be less daunting with the right solutions, but it still requires preparation. Effective digital experiences require the right backend systems that can support them. Assess your CRM, ERP, and warehouse management systems to gauge whether they're flexible and scalable enough to integrate with your new system.

  • Will your systems allow you to increase inventory visibility?
  • Do they provide order statuses to customers?
  • Will you have the inventory and support to take on a potentially massive uptick in sales once you launch your website?

If the answer is yes, you're ready. If not, you may need to invest in more flexible, scalable backend technologies that can easily integrate with an eCommerce platform.

Ensure your business goals align with a digital commerce strategy

Before expanding into digital commerce, it's also important to take a close look at your business readiness.

A B2B ecommerce platform might not accommodate every customer or product at once. Depending on the complexities of your offerings and the nature of each customer relationship, it probably won't (and shouldn't) completely replace your traditional business processes. For example, while customers might demand an ecommerce platform for its self-service options, sales staff are still necessary to achieve better margins, influence solution outcomes and offer critical insights.

You might decide it's best to sell certain products online while keeping others relegated to more traditional processes. Or, you might create new SKUs designed exclusively for your ecommerce platform. Whatever you decide, a thorough and forward-thinking plan is necessary for the success of a new implementation.

Depending on your customers, systems, and business readiness, you may be ready to embrace digital commerce. Even if it's not now, it will be soon. A B2B ecommerce platform can streamline and personalize your customer experience, reduce the workload on your staff, and ultimately drive sales.

Learn more about how digital can help your B2B business grow today.