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Guide

The Guide to Powering Up Your People with B2B eCommerce

B2B eCommerce is a powerful tool that can radically transform your business by opening new channels, addressing new markets and providing data-driven recommendations that drive more business with your current customers.

But it can’t be properly integrated or embraced without the work and support of your entire team.

From the CEO to the field technician, everyone has an important role in ensuring that the customer experience is seamless across all touch points: digital, phone, and in person. This is about more than just launching a new website – this is about revolutionizing how you do business so your customers keep coming back year-after-year.

At Insite, we understand that in the world of manufacturing and wholesale distribution, complexities run deep. You need digital commerce and omnichannel solutions built specifically for the way your business operates – and for every single member of your team. Where you can help eliminate mundane tasks and maximize sales opportunities. Where everyone has access to the data they need to do their jobs quickly and efficiently. Where productivity is not only maximized, it’s part of the end game.

Start exploring to set everyone up for success with B2B eCommerce.

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B2B eCommerce is a powerful tool that can radically transform your business by opening new channels, addressing new markets and providing data-driven recommendations that drive more business with your current customers.

But it can’t be properly integrated or embraced without the work and support of your entire team.

From the CEO to the field technician, everyone has an important role in ensuring that the customer experience is seamless across all touch points: digital, phone, and in person. This is about more than just launching a new website – this is about revolutionizing how you do business so your customers keep coming back year-after-year.

At Insite, we understand that in the world of manufacturing and wholesale distribution, complexities run deep. You need digital commerce and omnichannel solutions built specifically for the way your business operates – and for every single member of your team. Where you can help eliminate mundane tasks and maximize sales opportunities. Where everyone has access to the data they need to do their jobs quickly and efficiently. Where productivity is not only maximized, it’s part of the end game.

Start exploring to set everyone up for success with B2B eCommerce.

Get Started

Overview

More than 70% of

B2B buyers find

purchasing from

a website more

convenient

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A New Reality

A seamless online shopping experience is the new handshake.

Of course, relationships will always be important for business growth but today’s customers want direct access on their own unique terms. Research shows that today’s B2B buyer prefers self-service and discovery more than ever. They spend a greater amount of time researching and making purchases online. According to a 2018 Forrester survey, more than 70% of B2B buyers find purchasing from a website more convenient than buying from a sales representative.1 Not only that, 3 of 4 report researching half their work purchases online.2

As this trend sets sail, so does a new reality for manufacturers and wholesalers. It’s simple, if you want your business to survive, you must be present where your customers are.

As you contemplate bringing on an eCommerce solution, keep these key questions in the back on your mind:

  • What role does each person in my company play in eCommerce?
  • If our customers have a means of researching and purchasing from us electronically, how does that change the role of our CSRs?
  • With a new intuitive and helpful website in place, how do we drive adoption from customers and employees?
  • Is my employee experience as strong as my customer experience? How can I make both better?

All Hands on Deck

An eCommerce solution should not just be viewed as a convenience for individual buyers – it is a catalyst for faster and more reliable operations. It increases customer satisfaction, allows for more upsell opportunities and removes tedious job functions like placing orders and checking inventory levels.

The B2B companies that thrive in today’s world fully embrace eCommerce as a holistic system capable of transforming the entire business, not just an online ordering tool. But perhaps more important than the technology and platform itself, is the support and adoption by ALL team members. When you have alignment and buy-in from both leadership and employees, you have the foundation for something truly revolutionary.

This guide will help you better understand the key players needed to undergo such a paradigm shift. You’ll see that everyone has a role to play in the digital revolution. Launching an eCommerce site cannot take place in a silo or be implemented by just one team. Everyone – and we mean everyone – has to be all-in because it’s their collective action that will drive transformation.

Want to Learn More?

B2B Commerce Suites Finally Come of Age 1

John Bruno, Senior Forrester Analyst unpacks the findings from The Forrester Wave™: B2B Commerce Suites, Q3 2018.

Make Your B2B Business a Digital Business 2

This playbook examines today’s B2B eCommerce landscape and illustrates how companies are using digital.

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CEO

Have you ever heard the saying, attitude reflects leadership? This motto certainly holds true for the CEO when it comes to rallying the troops around B2B eCommerce. Top leadership must embrace it, believe in it and understand the business impact for the entire organization. For many manufacturers and wholesalers, the selection and deployment of digital technologies has been delegated to IT or marketing leadership, with limited participation by senior executives. As companies recognize the strategic value of digital, organizations need a much higher level of executive participation and buy-in if they want true transformation.

As the face and leader of the company, the CEO should focus on three key contributions during the planning and execution of a successful digital commerce transformation:

  1. Play an active role in the creation of a digital strategy, bringing in the greater perspective of the organization’s goals and mission.
  2. Champion the need to invest robustly to achieve a true transformation – sponsor the digital transformation.
  3. Set performance metrics and stay engaged throughout the entire project lifecycle.
Nate Wotruba

“Our company noticed that younger buyers were entering the workplace and wanted a more consumer-like feel when placing their orders electronically. We’ve always put our customers first so we knew it was time to reinvest and build something better. Sponsorship from leadership was crucial for a successful transformation. Our CEO, Mark Kasper composed a team of decision makers including myself, VP of IT Rick Johnson and VP of Finance Chad Warpinski.”

Nate Wotruba

Sr. Systems Architect, Amerhart

Jim Nerone

“The effective digital strategy for Buyers Products began with the understanding that we had to build a good solution. If we had to migrate customers to an online solution instead of traditional mechanisms like fax and phone, we had to make it worth their while. So we made a tremendous investment in product content and worked to build the solution around the complexities our business faces. Building a strong platform from day zero was mission critical.”

Jim Nerone

Chief Information Officer, Buyers Products

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IT & Operations

This group is key in ensuring the smooth operations during the implementation of an eCommerce system. They must have experience in developing site architecture, be able to identify and implement the right software and ensure data is being integrated accordingly and in a way that aligns with the company’s overarching IT strategy. They will be responsible for the synchronization of data into the commerce platform and handle integrations with an organization’s systems of record such as ERP, PIM and CRM.

When IT handles the integration of your ecommerce solution with your ERP, you’ll see many benefits including:

  1. Avoid data duplication
  2. Eliminate manual data entry
  3. Keep multiple systems in sync
  4. Keep inventory and pricing accurate

An integrated eCommerce solution will help you increase online revenue and improve customer self-service.

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IT & Operations

This group is key in ensuring the smooth operations during the implementation of an eCommerce system. They must have experience in developing site architecture, be able to identify and implement the right software and ensure data is being integrated accordingly and in a way that aligns with the company’s overarching IT strategy. They will be responsible for the synchronization of data into the commerce platform and handle integrations with an organization’s systems of record such as ERP, PIM and CRM.

When IT handles the integration of your ecommerce solution with your ERP, you’ll see many benefits including:

  1. Avoid data duplication
  2. Eliminate manual data entry
  3. Keep multiple systems in sync
  4. Keep inventory and pricing accurate

An integrated eCommerce solution will help you increase online revenue and improve customer self-service.

Jim Nerone

“The effective digital strategy for Buyers Products began with the understanding that we had to build a good solution. If we had to migrate customers to an online solution instead of traditional mechanisms like fax and phone, we had to make it worth their while. So we made a tremendous investment in product content and worked to build the solution around the complexities our business faces. Building a strong platform from day zero was mission critical.”

Jim Nerone

Chief Information Officer, Buyers Products

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eCommerce Manager or Director

Say hello to the day-to-day champion of your eCommerce initiative. This is the person who needs to help lead strategy, set goals and monitor business impact. They play a crucial role in decision making and are ultimately the one to handle how product and catalog details are implemented and merchandised. Your eCommerce manager should be well versed in digital marketing as they will be in charge of managing the overall user experience, including site navigation, content development, checkout funnel and promotional campaigns. They literally sit at the epicenter of the larger team and are connected to everyone in the organization impacted by the eCommerce journey. They’ll help ensure KPIs are being met and shared with key data personnel as well as work with marketing on campaigns that increase engagement and revenue.

Josh Schoonmaker

“Rather than leading with technology, we lead with the idea that our relationship with our customers would inform us about what we could build for them that would be useful in their roles. After we understood our customers needs, we built a solution that had a powerful combination of technology and personal touch.”

Josh Schoonmaker

Director of Digital Solutions, Consolidated Supply

Want to Learn More?

Executive Leadership’s Guide to Digital Transformation

The success of digital initiatives is tied to the commitment of the organization’s leadership. Learn about the roles executives play in digital transformation.

Robust Integration Architecture

IT Leader? Learn how InsiteCommerce is built to integrate with common systems like your ERP and PIM.

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Sales

While B2B salespeople sometimes view eCommerce as their competition, what they need to understand most is that when implemented correctly, eCommerce creates a stronger customer experience and helps everyone do their jobs more effectively. The salesperson’s job is not suddenly irrelevant, their role simply changes to adjust to the new norm.

The best part is that your sales team will be freed up from tedious tasks and often menial work so they can foster deeper relationships with customers. Successful eCommerce initiatives take low-value tasks away from the sales team, empowering them to do the work they should do best, which is providing consultative expertise and guiding customers to the right buying decisions, focusing most on the more complex, higher value buying scenarios.

Max King

“We developed a system that encouraged and incentivized sales folks to leverage the solution. Even if a part was sold online, our reps still received their commission which proved to be a key factor in making the eCommerce solution a success. After one year, our most reluctant sales reps turned to become the websites biggest advocates.”

Max King

VP Aftermarket Sales, Cleaver-Brooks

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Customer Service Representative

In B2B eCommerce, the role of the CSR remains a critical one due to the complexities within manufacturing and distribution. Some even believe it’s the most valuable asset within the commerce ecosystem – but it should NOT make their jobs more difficult.3 Fortunately, the role of the CSR is one in which digital transformation via a strong B2B commerce environment can improve task efficiency, boost productivity and increase job satisfaction. Similar to the sales team, the CSR can be relieved from managing disparate transactions and instead become the responsibility of the B2B commerce system itself.

A unified B2B commerce strategy takes every role into account. Instead of being left out of the customer experience conversation, CSRs are acknowledged and incorporated into the hybrid, omnichannel environment. This is one of the ways that eCommerce can transform the organization by creating an opportunity for new processes to emerge. Instead of just adding another layer to the buying cycle, a strong B2B commerce solution that provides a hybrid online/full-service experience can also strengthen the CSR’s experience as well.

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Marketing

Marketing plays a major role in driving up B2B eCommerce conversion numbers. They are the team responsible for coming up with engaging content that is SEO friendly, working with the rest of the team to use promotional tools to drive awareness and engagement campaigns. They help ensure you have robust product content that will make the purchasing process easier for buyers – everything from supporting documentation and warranty information to high resolution visuals, how-to videos, blogs, technical articles and rich data showing the features and benefits on specific products. These efforts will help prioritize content that drives customers through the buying cycle more efficiently.

They are also responsible for devising a content strategy for the site that aligns with key goals within the organization, such as introducing new product lines or engaging a new customer base.

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Accounting

A strong solution will need to incorporate complex, custom business rules for payment and payment approvals so your representative from accounting will play a crucial role in the planning and set up phase of your back-end business operations. You should be able to store and search every customer account, contract, purchase order, invoice, authorization and warranty with your new electronic system. The right platform will make it easier to discover issues with spending, any type of mismanagement, and identify failures during the procurement process. Analytics can be used to automatically surface relevant information, and an all-in-one digital data repository will provide full control and transparency on the invoice process – which should result in less errors or payment issues.

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Field Service Technician

Because techs work mainly onsite at a customer location, it’s important to have a robust mobile experience that can handle complex information and ordering needs. Unfortunately, many eCommerce initiatives view mobile as just an extension of a responsive website. When the mobile strategy stops there, it is often the field service technician who is left with a cumbersome website, multiple portals, and an ordering process that often fails to recognize their unique needs. Field staff need access to a totally functional native app. They should be able to access user-specific product catalogs, pricing and product searches as well as have the ability to easily place an order. The more that the user experience mirrors the customers’ buying journey all the way through to their post-purchase activities, the more productive the technician will become in the field.

Lisa Li

“At Jones Packaging I am focused on data management and user adoption. Product content is all about building better user experiences. Every day, I aim to bring innovative ideas forward to improve our eCommerce site.”

Lisa Li

eCommerce Data and Adoption Coordinator, Jones Packaging

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Product Content Specialist

The reality is that end-to-end management of your product content and online catalog takes time and resources. Once you have a plan for how you will collect and enrich the data you need, it’s time to consider how you will keep the product information up to date. You likely have hundreds or even thousands of products which means endless documents, images and digital assets. To build powerful eCommerce experiences and keep your customers coming back for more, you have to gain control of all of this content. Most organizations do this with a PIM, which will allow you to collect and store information about products, enforce content standards, upload assets and collaborate with contributors all in one place. PIMs give you an efficient, centralized way to gather, organize and curate all your product information.

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Product Content Specialist

The reality is that end-to-end management of your product content and online catalog takes time and resources. Once you have a plan for how you will collect and enrich the data you need, it’s time to consider how you will keep the product information up to date. You likely have hundreds or even thousands of products which means endless documents, images and digital assets. To build powerful eCommerce experiences and keep your customers coming back for more, you have to gain control of all of this content. Most organizations do this with a PIM, which will allow you to collect and store information about products, enforce content standards, upload assets and collaborate with contributors all in one place. PIMs give you an efficient, centralized way to gather, organize and curate all your product information.

Lisa Li

“At Jones Packaging I am focused on data management and user adoption. Product content is all about building better user experiences. Every day, I aim to bring innovative ideas forward to improve our eCommerce site.”

Lisa Li

eCommerce Data and Adoption Coordinator, Jones Packaging

Want to Learn More?

The Guide to Mastering Product Content

Product Content Specialist? Learn how to master product content in this guide for wholesale distributors.

Why is Customer Service Important to an Organization 3

Customer Service isn’t just about being courteous to your customers – it’s a vital element of business ops.

7 Points of Failure in B2B Sales Enablement

Learn how sales enablement misses the boat with next-gen buyers and influencers.

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The Implementation Partner

The right partner will help you achieve success with eCommerce. There are companies that have specialized expertise in eCommerce, from account portal implementation, product catalog implementation, to eCommerce optimization and beyond. Here are some important skills to look for:

  1. Digital commerce – Providing you with everything you need from start to finish. Able to handle the complexities of B2B from the first conversation.
  2. Saas First – The software as a service distribution model is designed to help your company stand out. It enables you to customize and extend the online experience to meet your specific needs. Find a partner that focuses on keeping your business secure, code protected and safe.
  3. Robust integration architecture – It’s important to be able to integrate with core systems like PIMs, ERPs and more so that you can offer up a truly holistic commerce experience.
  4. Mobile apps – Whether users are behind a desk or in the field, your team and your customers need access to information quickly. A partner versed in mobile apps will ensure your people have immediate access to search products, check order stats and more – anytime or anywhere – whether they are on a desktop computer or an iPhone.
  5. Customer support – Do you have a regular contact that is dedicated to your business? Choose a partner who provides you with a dedicated account executive who helps funnel any and all questions or concerns you have.
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Web Developer

The web developer is integral to a successful eCommerce site launch. They are ultimately responsible for collaborating with the platform provider, ensuring brand guidelines are followed and the site is leading-edge in terms of design, flow, format and usability. They should also help build out appropriate content and SEO to ensure your eCommerce platform ranks well on search engines.

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eCommerce Consultant

Choosing the right eCommerce consultant is important for your company’s long-term success. They will ultimately help you define your goals and identify how and what you should consider key performance indicators. In addition, you’ll want to consult them anytime you intend to launch a new product or want to reach a new channel. They’ll help determine the type of marketing tactics you need to deploy such as SEO and paid social campaigns. Given their niche focus, they will serve as great business partners who can help you strategize the right approach for anything you are doing in the digital realm.

Want to Learn More?

B2B eCommerce Partners

View Insite’s trusted network of B2B eCommerce implementers, strategists and marketers.

InsiteCommerce SaaS

Find out how InsiteCommerce is built so you can configure, not code.

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The Researcher

The Internet has dramatically changed the manner in which most researchers work. A study by Google, B2B Path to Purchase, surveyed more than 3,000 B2B researchers and found they typically conduct 12 searches on average before going to a specific brand’s site.4 Google also found that over a third of B2B researchers search for a product name or capability, not by looking for a specific manufacturer or distributor. Nearly half of those surveyed reported they discovered entirely new brands simply from using a search engine. This is proof your site must provide everything that the researcher needs in an easy to understand format, or they will shop the competition.

To achieve increases in productivity, the following must exist:

  • The commerce environment must be easy to navigate
  • The mobile component has to have full B2B commerce capability, not be merely responsive
  • Data both requested and generated by the work of the B2B researcher must be incorporated into the enterprise

This means that eCommerce platforms must be very specific when it comes to sharing information on the products that they sell. Application-specific photos, specifications, illustrations, usage details and relevant how-to information should be searchable on your site.

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The Buyer

Traditionally, B2B buyers were fiercely loyal to their business partners. They put their relationships first and rarely shopped the competition, even when mistakes were made. But as digital technologies have advanced and younger buyers have entered the workplace, the profile of the B2B buyer has evolved. Buyers are used to Amazon-like buying experiences and have come to expect it on the job as well.

But, you have to take it even further than Amazon does – because they are doing business with consumers and you are not. The best user experience in the world will hold little value if the B2B eCommerce solution doesn’t provide a buying environment that is customized for that specific buyers’ needs, from products to special customer pricing, to all the tools that support the order process. With the right eCommerce platform, information otherwise spread across disparate systems, becomes shared, not siloed and B2B buyers can find the information they are looking for quickly and efficiently. Whether it’s through a digital channel, working with a salesperson, or through new emerging touch points, B2B buying requires a world class experience.

Dennis Karpinski

“Our customers love the clean design of our site. They can easily navigate to products by clicking a menu item, searching, using the quick order feature, and easily submitting small and large requests for quotes. We have drastically improved the customer experience.”

Dennis Karpinski

Director of eCommerce & Business Analysis, Eastern Industrial Supply

Want to Learn More?

The Changing Face of B2B Marketing 4

Learn about the research and purchasing habits of B2B decision makers in this Think with Google article.

How B2B eCommerce is Changing the Buying and Selling Journey

Learn about the impacts eCommerce has on the B2B customer journey.

A More Robust B2B Site Leads to Better Training & Customer Service

In specialty industries like heavy-duty vehicle parts distribution, it’s difficult to ensure customers always have access to what they need. After struggling with an online commerce system that wasn’t meeting the needs of customers, Macpek, a parts distributor located in Quebec, turned to Insite.

Macpek is now leveraging its InsiteCommerce® B2B site to help customers self-serve with 24/7 access to real-time inventory checkers, centralized product information, order history and invoices. In addition, they’ve been able to use the platform as a training tool for new team members to learn about the company and what it does. This has reduced the training period for team members from one year to three months. This transition has allowed Macpek’s team to provide more valuable customer service while augmenting processes that had previously been conducted by people, thus allowing both its team and customers to be more efficient.

Going Beyond the Order Leads to Better, Faster Access to Meaningful Information

Family-owned since 1940, Amerhart is a Midwest wholesale distributor of lumber and building materials. This is a company committed to going Beyond the Order by delivering exceptional customer service every step of the way; a company that knew they would need to transform the customer journey as digital technology became available.

Before partnering with Insite, day-to-day work was labor intensive, search was not user-friendly, managing product content was difficult, marketing tools were non-existent, and extendibility was limited. Now staff are finding they have better and faster access to meaningful information and more than 880 users have registered for the online product catalog. Everyone has more time to give to making data-driven decisions based on self-service customer events and transactions.

A Full eCommerce Team Journeys Through Self Discovery and Builds a Frictionless Order Experience

For more than 135 years, Jones Healthcare has been committed to putting their customers first. A manufacturer of printed packaging, contract packaging and healthcare products and services, Jones prides themselves on being the partner of choice for their customers. As the healthcare pharmaceutical industry has evolved, Jones has discovered new ways to serve their customers.

Jones took a full team approach to digital transformation. With the Director of Finance and Operations, the eCommerce Project Lead and the E-Commerce Data & Adoption Coordinator leading the charge, Jones built an eCommerce system that streamlines the supply ordering process and provides an experience unlike any other pharmacy ordering platform. Prior to the transformation, the company’s product portfolio was unorganized. Thus, the transformation was a period of self-discovery for Jones. They had to understand what products they were selling, how to best group them, how to categorize them and so forth. The benefits were far and beyond the eCommerce piece. Just one week after the national launch of InsiteCommerce, Jones saw more than 1,000 registered website user accounts surpassing the goal they set for the entire first year after launch.

Digital Engagement Specialists Build Even Higher Return on Investment

From the moment the company opened its doors over 90 years ago, to this day, Consolidated Supply has been committed to delivering extraordinary customer service and the highest quality plumbing, heating and water works solutions to professional plumbers and utility contractors. In an effort to continue delivering extraordinary service in an ever-evolving industry, Consolidated Supply transformed their business with eCommerce.

Consolidated recognized that eCommerce wasn’t just a project. It wasn’t something they would deploy then move away from. After the initial launch, Consolidated was receiving feedback from customers about certain struggles and questions with the website. Three months after launch, the company hired two Digital Engagement Specialists solely dedicated to building a better eCommerce experience. The Digital Engagement Specialists (DES) interact directly with customers, utilizing feedback from employees and customers to improve the website and create a user-friendly experience that promotes efficiency and growth with Consolidated’s customers. Since hiring the Digital Engagement Specialists, Consolidated has seen more than 10 times growth of super users. In addition, Active Ordering customers (those that have ordered multiple times in the last 90 days) has increased by 146% since the Digital Engagement Specialists began.

Want to Learn More?

Our Customers

Want to hear more from our customers? Check out our other success stories.

Building Your Team

eCommerce succeeds when you understand that it goes far beyond a website and requires multiple hands on deck. For small teams of 1 or 2, that can seem overwhelming. However, rather than seeing it as a number of roles, home in on the skills and resources that are available to you. What skills do each of your team members have? What company or service provider can I partner with to make transformation happen?

We’ll leave you with a checklist of people that will empower you to take action and begin getting the right feet in the right shoes. Keep in mind, you don’t need someone in every one of these roles, you need people who have these skills.

Download the white paper below for a complete eCommerce Skills Checklist

Jennie Stenback

“Our internal cross-functional leadership team included Marketing, Project Management, Information Technology, ERP Strategists, Business Analysts, Customer Care, Finance, Logistics, and, of course, sales leadership. Once you have your team assembled, you can get to work on the business case – guided by functional requirements, market intelligence and systems ramifications. “

Jennie Stenback

VP Marketing and eCommerce, Marmon Link

Now What?

If you’ve come this far, we hope you’ve realized that this is far from a one man job. Digital transformation and eCommerce impacts everyone involved in the complex B2B buying cycle.

This isn’t a project. It’s not something you implement then go away from. It’s a revolutionary way of doing business that completely shifts multiple people’s roles.

Luckily, you don’t have to tackle it alone.
Insite has built an eCommerce assessment that helps you build your unique requirements for eCommerce. We’ll start there. After that, our experts and trusted partners will help guide you through building a team with the right skills, gaining buy-in across the board and implementing technology that scales and grows as your business does.

Want to Learn More?

eCommerce Assessment

Begin identifying your unique B2B eCommerce requirements with Insite’s eCommerce assessment.

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