The approach you take in launching a B2B ecommerce site has a direct effect on the success of your ecommerce initiative. Specifically, a tendency toward one approach over another can reveal what matters most to your organization as well as expose potential pitfalls you should take care to avoid.
Design-focused approach. In this common approach, the design and branding of a site is paramount to functionality and integration. How the site looks matters more than how it functions. Reasons to be concerned: Focusing on design to the exclusion of everything else on your ecommerce site can result in a site that is pretty to look at but that is hard to use and/or doesn’t integrate with your back-end business systems. Solution: Make sure your design driven ecommerce site is built on a strong functional foundation that is easy to use and that it seamlessly integrates with your back-end business systems.
Functionality-focused approach. This approach looks at site usability and customer experience first and then to either design or integration as a next step. Reasons to be concerned: Focusing solely on functionality can result in a site that works well, but is hard to look at or doesn’t integrate with back-end systems, thereby derailing the power of ecommerce and turning your site into an overpriced order taking system. Solution: Focus on usability as a means to support design and integration, not as a sole driver for ecommerce success.
Integration-focused approach. Most often seen in the world of bolt-on ERP ecommerce modules, the integration approach to ecommerce asks and demands and answer to only one question—will it integrate with my ERP and back-end systems. Reasons to be concerned: While integration is an extremely critical part of the equation for ecommerce success, it’s not the only consideration. The integration-only approach focuses solely on integration and results in ugly websites that are hard to use. Solution: Make sure that any ERP module you purchase gives you the ability to change the look and feel of your site as well as offer the functionality you need to maximize the success of your business in the ecommerce space.
In an ideal world, every B2B organization looking at ecommerce would approach their project with a balanced approach, taking design, functionality and integration into consideration before selecting an ecommerce platform. Considering each of these critical ingredients ensures that the organization maximizes the success of its ecommerce efforts.
Which approach are you taking to B2B ecommerce?
To learn more about how t maximize the success of your B2B ecommerce initiative, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.