For most B2B organizations, ecommerce initiatives are created and drive from one of two perspectives: creative/salesy or technologically/operationally focused.
The trouble with this approach is that when the creative and salesy folks are driving the project, the IT and operational considerations can be left until the very end of the project or left out entirely. Likewise, when either the IT or the operations group is driving an ecommerce effort, the focus often ends up on integration and technical specifications without considering site usability, branding or customer experience.
There are 5 key groups of stakeholders that must be included on any successful B2B e-commerce team:
Executives – If your executive team is not clear about the importance of B2B ecommerce or what you hope to achieve with such an initiative, it’s going to be very hard to get the resources – human and financial – you need to successfully launch your ecommerce site. C-Suite buy-in assures that your project has the muscle it needs to be successful over the long haul.
Marketing – The marketing department is known for being your organization’s branding police and will have a considerable number of requirements for a successful B2B ecommerce site from the perspective of marketing. Without involving a key player from the marketing department on your ecommerce team, you may end up with an ecommerce site that is limited in how it can promote and sell your products or one that is not visually appealing to your customers. If only marketing carries the ball, chances are good that there will be little consideration as to how the ecommerce site will integrate with other critical business systems.
Sales – A leader from your sales area must be included on any successful ecommerce team to ensure that your website accurately reflects the sales arrangements offered to your customers in one-on-one personal sales. For example, if certain customers are offered specific negotiated pricing for the products that they purchase from you, your site will need to reflect that pricing arrangement.
IT – Ecommerce is often mistakenly assumed to be an IT project because the business transaction happens on a computer. While IT will play a role in making sure that your ecommerce system integrates properly with your ERP and other back-end systems, the implementation and day-to-day management of an enterprise B2B ecommerce should rarely fall solely on the backs of the IT group. IT should be included in ecommerce discussions as a resource on integration between systems and site deployement, but putting such a project solely in their care will likely result in an integrated, but utilitarian site.
Operations – Having a member of your operations team on the ecommerce launch team will help ensure that you consider all of the ways ecommerce can generate efficiencies for your organization as well as what operational hurdles you will need to watch out for.
If your ecommerce team doesn’t include key players from each of these areas, you will run into trouble launching your B2B ecommerce site. Involving stakeholders from each area will help you avoid problems in the future and will ensure that your ecommerce initiative is as successful as possible.
To learn more about how to maximize the success of your B2B ecommerce initiative, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Intiative.