It seems that everyone knows how to implement B2B eCommerce systems. We have over 10 years of experience and projects for companies, such as TIM (one of the biggest electro-technical goods distributor in Europe), on this market and we have seen how popular advice and common assumptions have led many companies astray.
Below we have compiled the most widespread myths, often repeated by IT companies – which are false (at least partially).
Collect the requirements of your business
Gathering business requirements from all departments of the company seems to be a great idea. Unfortunately, these people usually don’t know what their customers really need. Thus, they submit any information that comes to mind. About 40% of briefs that are conducted by Divante have contradictory, mutually exclusive requirements. Meanwhile, B2B customers already use online shopping and you can start from proposing them a system that will allow them to order in a familiar way. Start with the implementation of features known from B2C systems. Customers will voluntarily submit their requirements, which you can, in turn, implement into your system.
Gather customer needs
Asking customers is, of course, important, but their actions are much more important than their declarations. By asking, you won’t learn whether customers will actually use the system. If you start a project by asking customers about their opinion, you may get stuck on a never-ending design process. It will make the implementation longer and more complicated, increasing the risk of failure. The best solution is to run a ready-made, proven solution and listen carefully to the needs of customers. You can use tools such as online surveys, a/b tests, livechat, and/or user tests. All of them will show you how real customers uses the system and what their needs are. Think about the reversed order – first run, then examine, develop and optimize.
Typical B2B companies are not IT companies. They believe that IT is not their core competence, so they decide to outsource it. However, in our experience, all the companies most successful in B2B eCommerce develop their IT skills. Lack of IT competences disables your long-term planning, and prevents you from utilizing the full potential of technology and synergy. Outsourcing will allow you to create and run the application faster, but you need to develop your competence at the same time. Therefore, the choice of Open Source (as we have done with Magento) may be the best option. The first version of the application is built by an external contractor, bringing its know-how and transferring it to your organization. Unfortunately, it is impossible to realize such a model with SaaS software, thus, it’s not a good choice for companies seriously thinking about B2B eCommerce.
Find our more about how to build a profitable B2B eCommerce and read about the case of TIM.