Whether it’s expensive, time-consuming maintenance, an inferior customer experience, or the absence of high performance functionality, there are some key signs that it’s time to upgrade your b2b ecommerce solution. Let’s take a closer look at indicators that signal the need for change…
The cost of an ecommerce platform is more than just its implementation and deployment. There’s also the on-going expense of operating the system and its maintenance to consider. High and unexpected operating and maintenance costs usually mean you should evaluate your current platform against an alternative solution and see where savings and efficiency improvements can be made.
For example, does your customer service team spend an endless amount of time manually inputting data and customer order details because your system isn’t automated? And are you experiencing too many order errors as a consequence? Is your IT manager wrapped up in maintaining multiple siloed business systems that replicate tasks but don’t communicate with each other? Does your ecommerce technology constantly require software updates and development just to operate at a basic level? And is it easy to add or change customer-facing content – or do you need to involve a digital design agency every time you want an amendment?
All these factors can add cost to the TCO of your ecommerce system – both in terms of human and financial resource. Companies that move to an ecommerce platform that integrates with business and accounting systems, and automates the entire ordering process (allowing customers to self-serve 24/7) can save time, reduce cost and eliminate unnecessary human errors.
Increasingly, b2b companies are recognising that the customer experience is a critical differentiator, particularly online. Delivering a great buying experience is rooted in the quality, capabilities and performance of your ecommerce platform. Companies that we work with know that business buyers want a slick b2c type of buying experience, and they understand the importance of investing in the kind of ecommerce technology that can bring them competitive advantage.
Buyers want to see real-time information in areas such as product data, stock availability, personalised pricing, discounts and payment terms to help them make informed decisions. They want to be able to place and track orders easily, view their order history in a click, and reorder frequently purchased items without having to wade through pages of admin.
To find out how your current site stacks up, just ask your customers for their views. Find out what they like and dislike about the self-service process, what would make them use the site more often, and whether they need to ask customer service teams for assistance. You’ll soon be able to work out what features need upgrading or developing – or whether it’s best to invest in updating your entire system.
Business-to-business selling is more complex than b2c, and ecommerce platforms require specialist features in order to optimise the buying experience – and to ensure that orders can be quickly and accurately processed. This type of functionality is offered by b2b ecommerce service providers that have a deep understanding of the procedures and processes involved, including the need for detailed search facilities, along with the ability to personalise prices, promotions and product offerings to individual customers.
If your ecommerce platform is really a dressed-up b2c platform without any of the b2b integrated ecommerce features demanded by today’s business buyers, talk to a specialist provider who can explain how other b2b companies have benefited from moving to a solution built from the ground up for business-to-business selling – and how you might benefit too.
Business needs change all the time – does your ecommerce solution have the flexibility to meet new requirements, to scale as your business grows, or keep pace with evolving priorities? For example, if your business expands internationally, can your system deal with different currencies, languages and tax laws? Can you easily add new product categories, or address different markets and evolving customer needs?
Business evolution can be complex, so you need to check the fit of your b2b ecommerce technology against your long term development plans and strategy. If you have doubts about the ability of your current solution to support your business journey, it’s a good opportunity to research other options.