eCommerce PunchOut is a little-understood (and rarely supported) function for most B2B eCommerce...
Who is responsible for your website?
Back in 2001 when Commerce Vision was founded our interactions with prospects and customers was very different from what it is today.
Thinking about this over the last weeks and following on from an article I wrote some weeks ago (Rackham was right) it struck me that there has been a dramatic business shift over the last 15 years from the back office to the front office.
Then the lights came on and it raised the big question... had we re-engineered our business processes to accommodate the shift? Because if we haven’t we are likely to be missing out on maximising the value of our investment in online channels.
So here’s a question for you... “Who is responsible for your website?"
Going back to 2001 for a moment... business owners and management, especially in mid-market companies, relied heavily on their IT Managers for their eCommerce presence. It made a lot of sense as solutions like ours were technically and business focussed with customers relying on faultless integration of orders, self service of key functions by customers, and ensuring business logic was maintained from the back end to the web.
Online channels were seen as extensions of the back office systems like your PRONTO ERP or some other ERP system, so IT and Finance played key roles around integrating that business logic and accounting data.
Now back to 2016... If your online web presence and eCommerce platform is the sole responsibility of IT and/or Finance you may be missing out on unlocking lots of value.
So here’s why…
Modern eCommerce systems today are a lot more than transaction systems. Sure if you are running a platform like our Customer Self Service, the platform can take orders, handle order tracking, provide availability and handle lots of other functions that your customers can now self-serve. But the big benefit today, which you could be missing, is using the platform to support your marketing and brand. This is especially relevant today as your potential customers are doing up to 90% of their product and service research online before they speak to you. Content is critical and the personas that you are aiming it at are equally important. Content and personas are two of the hottest subjects in marketing today and getting these right is a key remit of your marketing team... and they are supported by good content management systems.
So if your marketing team don’t have a seat and a say in your web and eCommerce channel you should get them involved immediately. Not only get them involved, get accountability and input as the marketing team are your allies in driving engagement and furthering your brand. In a perfect world your marketing team will have been with you on your digital journey from day one but our experience is that this often hasn’t been the case.
Our recommendation is to:
- Form a web/eCommerce team that involves senior management i.e the Managing Director or a Senior Director of the business and then the key managers across finance, operations, supply chain, sales and of course marketing.
- Pragmatically evaluate your current web/eCommerce systems and document strengths and weaknesses of the system across a number of areas including UI (User Interface), UX (User Experience), functionality, content, and geographical reach.
- Tools like Google Analytics and Inspectlet are your friends when performing this analysis
- Build an action plan to address weaknesses identified above and get marketing to brief the team on how best to define personas and drive content. This plan should break down the actions into phases over time that identify key goals and expected ROI.
- Meet regularly to drive and revise the plan based upon the business strategic direction
- Most importantly - ensure you execute the plan!
So if you’re reading this article and silently nodding while thinking that this sounds like your organisation, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help get you thinking about how to start addressing the problem:
- Who runs our website?
- Are they the right people?
- If not, do we have the right people already at the company to get involved?
- If we have the people but they need to upskill, how do they get these skills? What courses are available?
- Do we have the right tools of the trade to support these marketing activities? (Tip: A lot of them are either very cheap or completely free!)