For the last 6 months or so, our team has been focused on telling better stories about our customers. We’ve shared stories about companies like Amerhart, Jones Healthcare and George T. Sanders who are shaping the future through digital transformation.
As we’ve been hearing the stories of these innovative companies, we’ve had a revelation. Our manufacturing and distribution customers have been serving their customers for a long time, often for more than 75 years, many for even more than a century!
How have our customers created businesses with such staying power?
For manufacturers and distributors, creating a business that lasts for decades requires an astute ability to lean into change and a relentless passion to prioritize the customer.
For a B2B tech company like us? Success is achieved by placing a priority on our customers. Plus, it requires a laser-focused product and an innovative team.
Last month, we announced that we’ve been acquired by Episerver. This has been a wild ride for Insite. We’re eager to roll up our sleeves and work with our new Episerver colleagues to build even better, customer-centric products.
How did our founders envision, create and eventually sell a successful B2B tech company? They focused on building a product that delivers value, serving the customer first and building an innovative team ready for anything.
1. Building an eCommerce Product Designed for B2B
Our personal shopping experiences have shaped our expectations for B2B buying experiences. As consumers, we’ve grown used to seamless, Amazon-like experiences. More and more, we expect the same seamless online experience in B2B. In fact, according to Forrester, nearly 70% of B2B buyers prefer to self-serve whenever possible. Following the lead of powerhouses like Grainger and Ferguson, manufacturers and distributors are starting to get digital right.
Though some B2B companies have lagged behind their B2C counterparts in terms of digital transformation, the manufacturing and distribution industries have always had a large, powerful footprint in the U.S. economy. Insite’s founders recognized the importance of helping them build sustainable businesses.
In 1999, Insite Group was formed. Through 2004, Insite Group provided custom eCommerce solutions and an integrated shipping application called InsiteShip for manufacturing and distribution companies. In 2004, Insite Software was born. For more than 15 years Insite Software has been serving the needs of manufacturers and distributors with eCommerce solutions like InsiteCommerce, InsiteCommerce Mobile App, InsiteAnalytics for eCommerce, InsitePortfolio and InsitePIM.
Though Insite’s products, team and leadership has shifted over the years, our company’s mission has always been to help manufacturers and wholesalers transform their businesses for the future. Years later, we’ve helped hundreds of B2B companies do just that.
So, how did Insite create a product that was hyper-focused on B2B? It certainly didn’t happen overnight. Unlike many other eCommerce providers, Insite didn’t get our start in B2C. We created a solution tailored to manufacturers and distributors from day one.
B2B is a different ballgame than B2C. Insite’s solutions were built to handle complexities like workflows, customer-specific pricing, multiple personas, budget approvals and multiple ship-to locations, to name a few.
Above all, we created a product that delivers real value. Our solution isn’t just a website. InsiteCommerce can impact direct change in manufacturing and distribution businesses right away. It goes beyond getting more traffic to your website or building an online shopping cart. Insite’s native B2B capabilities were designed to drive revenue, efficiency and customer engagement.
2. Our Customers Ruled Everything…and They Still Do
Every decision we make at Insite is focused on putting the customer first. Our customers are all manufacturers and distributors. They are manufacturers and distributors who have been in the game for a long time.
Saying you put the customer first and actually putting the customer first are very different things. We’re not just smoke and mirrors. We go beyond what our customers ask of us. We work hand-in-hand with them to focus on their business outcomes.
We are committed to ensuring that our products are delivering the value we promised at the moment of sale. Our team works to understand our customers’ businesses and focus on their bottom line. That means focusing on the key business drivers they’re accountable for delivering to their internal stakeholders and their customers. It means responding to concerns right away. It means predicting and assuming challenges. It means showing empathy. Struggling when they struggle. Winning when they win.
We’ve developed a Customer Advisory Board that directly impacts more than 20% of our product roadmap. We connect customers with each other for the sharing of experiences. Our customers join us for an annual user conference, leverage our customer community and give us feedback through surveys and interviews.
Our customer success directors are dedicated to ensuring the success of every single customer. But, the success of our customers is up to every single person on the team.
Our new company, Episerver is dedicated to building experiences that put the customer at the center of everything. The products are literally customer-centric experiences. That could not be more aligned with what Insite has always been about. We’re excited to continue the journey we started back in 1999.
3. Our Team Pushed and Continues to Push the Envelope in B2B eCommerce
We’re a small but mighty team at Insite. We’ve hired people that aren’t afraid of the constant change facing the industry. Our team is full of passionate, innovate, technically minded people.
Our CEO, Steve Shaffer likes to call us builders, finders and sustainers. Builders shape and build our leading-edge eCommerce products. Finders work to build industry relationships and earn the trust of manufacturers and distributors. Finally, sustainers focus on customer support, knowledge and learning and the day-to-day operations.
We don’t hire based on skills or experience alone. It’s also about personality and beliefs. Our company culture is about collaboration. We win and lose together. We’re doers, not talkers. We deliver results and meet deadlines. We’re forward thinking and committed to driving continuous improvement. We roll with punches. We’re flexible. We don’t sugar coat things. No B.S. is a core value at Insite. We give each other regular feedback to improve ourselves and our teams. We’re always hungry to get better.
What’s going to make us successful in 2020? It’s the same thing that’s made our customers successful for all those years. A relentless pursuit of serving the customer well and the willingness and fortitude to challenge the status quo and adopt new approaches to solving complex problems.
Now that we’ve shed the holiday hangover, and have our eyes clearly focused on 2020, we could not be more energized about building innovative technology that helps our customers improve their businesses. Here’s to the start of what expect to be a really great year.