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Posted by Todd Hockenberry ● Jan 15, 2019

Why B2B E-commerce Should Be a Strategic Initiative

“E-commerce doesn’t work for me.”

“Why?” “Well, we tried it.” “What does that mean?”

Many B2B manufacturing and distribution companies don’t view building like building another physical location. You must invest as you go in the necessary features of the store. Many suffer from having disparate systems that are not well integrated, interrupting their prospects' buyer journey.

This is where Karie Daudt, VP of Marketing and Customer Experience at Insite Software, expertly helps B2B manufacturing and Distribution companies build e-commerce sites that keep buyers engaged through the buying process.

In this episode, Karie outlines why every B2B manufacturing or Distribution company should use e-commerce as a strategic initiative now.

Should Every B2B Manufacturing or Distribution Company Use E-commerce as a Strategic Initiative?

The short answer: yes.

Customer expectations are changing. Customers are doing more and more research online. They’re educating themselves before they engage with salespeople.

Consequently, salespeople are not the conduit anymore. The role they often fit into is a consultative one.

“The more complex your product, the more consultative your salespeople need to be.” - Karie Daudt

This all started when companies first began e-commerce. By putting their product’s information online, prospects were able to read head about the products, comparison shop online, and self-educate.

Over time, e-commerce changed the way buyers shop by enabling them to thoroughly research on their own.

Karie explains that while B2C and B2B are still different, buyers in the B2C world have so thoroughly adapted to this that so much has translated over into the B2B world.

How Do Inbound Marketing and Conversion Fit Together in B2B E-commerce?

Karie explains that it’s not uncommon for manufacturing companies to invest heavily in a splashy website, but not have the same sort of conversion tools used in B2C.

However, there is more and more overlap between the marketing top of the funnel and conversion to buy.

Karie says that changes we are starting to see are:

  • B2B manufacturers facilitating the buying process without making the prospect go to another site to buy.
  • Manufacturers going direct-to-consumer
  • And Manufacturers that support their channel still using commerce in a way that doesn’t break the buyer journey.

Additionally many systems like Marketing Automation, CRM and Product Information Management are starting to overlap together.

How Companies With Non-Overlapping Legacy Systems Deliver E-commerce that Spans the Buyer Journey

Karie says this is what her company deals with every day.

Many question whether to deal with data first or look at commerce. Karie’s contention is that you cannot wait. The market is changing rapidly and brand loyalty is fading.

This is not just about trying commerce, it’s about thinking differently; companies that make integrated e-commerce a strategic initiative are having a great deal of success.

The most important thing is integration. Companies have their data spread across disparate systems.

“The digital ecommerce systems built for B2B need to be designed around integration” - Karie Daudt

Good news: as long as there is a way for one system to talk with another, they can integrate.

However, Karie says that along with integration companies should be thinking about simplification. As technology takes over processes originally designed to be handled by people there is a great opportunity for simplification.

If a company simplifies and integrates its backend systems well, the commerce platform becomes a system of engagement.

4 Things Every Executive Should be Thinking About or Questioning

Finally, I asked Karie what she thinks every Industrial Executive and Senior Leader should be thinking about or Questioning and her advice was on point:

  • This is not about a website, It’s a new way for you to do business and It is strategic.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just a website. This is strategic to your business and the top executives should be involved. This is the future, so it’s about survival. You don’t want to be irrelevant in a couple of years.

  • You need to bring in your key players

This includes senior executives, IT folks, marketing, and sales all coming together and understanding how this is important to all of them.

  • Look at how you solve business problems

What things should you be thinking about that maybe you haven't even reached yet? Really think about this strategically and take an outside-in view of your business, being open to the fact that you may need to make some pretty significant changes.

  • Don’t get hung up on features

Many executives read a “list of 500 features your e-commerce platform needs to have” and think they really need all of those things.

“Don’t get hung up on the tech, really think about how you want to run your business.” - Karie Daudt

Insite takes a consultative approach. They look at the 20-30% of things your company sells that account for 80% of your business and help you choose the features you need the most so you’re not investing in things you don’t need.

There is a digital assessment company’s can request that Insite offers to help prioritize features; Karie recommends taking it as a team.

To get more information on how to build commerce that is strategic and engaging, check out Karie’s Executive Leadership Guide.

This post is based on a interview with Karie Daudt of Insite Software. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Industrial Executive Podcast.


Topics: Industrial Executive