Optimising ROI for your B2B eCommerce solution
Budgeting for a new B2B eCommerce platform or improvements to an existing solution generally involves four key stages to ensure money is allocated to areas that will deliver the best ROI:
• Collecting information and insights
• Establishing priorities
• Evaluating proposals and quotations from providers
• Re-assessing priorities and allocating budgets
The first two stages are the most critical and time-consuming parts of the process – let’s take a closer look at what’s involved…
Collecting information and insights: This needs to be undertaken on a number of levels with a view to aligning the capabilities of your eCommerce platform with business objectives and strategic goals. Start by clearly defining your company’s overall aims over the budgeting period, and drill down to individual departmental targets, then carefully examine how your eCommerce solution can support their delivery.
You’ll need to benchmark the performance of your system in order to assess its contribution to achieving your these goals. For example, calculate the proportion of sales that come through your website, work out purchase conversion rates and average order values, and plot changes and trends over time. If you sell through wholesalers or distributors, think about the kind of support they require and ask whether your site provides this.
Establishing priorities: After you’ve determined how well your B2B eCommerce site supports the delivery of business goals, focus on analysing areas such as hosting, marketing, and software and development to highlight potential opportunities for enhancement.
Consider whether your hosting environment is optimised for your needs – is your site loading quickly enough, does it lag at peak traffic times, have there been any outages, and can it scale with any anticipated increase in customer traffic? If you have any concerns over hosting performance, share them with your provider and ask for proposals on how their services can better meet your needs.
For marketing, think about the way you’re using content, email, and SEO techniques – and question how you could better use these to drive more revenue. For example, are the latest versions of product catalogues and guides available on your site? Are you using triggered emails for events such as cart abandonment? Where do you feature on Google rankings when people search on your industry keywords? Again, if you believe you could work smarter in any of these areas, ask your provider for their recommendations.
With software and development, look specifically at the quality of your system’s integration with key business processes and accounting systems (such as Sage and Pegasus) and assess the likely impact of any future changes to your site on the way these will work. Factors such as the customer’s ability to view their own prices and discounts, tailored offers and real-time inventory levels are essential to creating a personalised, high quality user experience. Also consider your site’s mobile performance, in particular conversion rates for mobile traffic.
Closer examination of issues like these will help you determine how well your eCommerce solution is able to support future business growth and strategic goals. It will enable you to identify opportunities for improvement, assess the likely impact of any enhancements, and establish your priorities.
Evaluating proposals and allocating budgets, briefing your eCommerce providers on these priorities will allow them to respond with their proposals, recommendations and costs – which in turn means you can fine-tune your priorities based on accurate predictions of ROI.