4 ways you are killing your B2B eCommerce

Picture of Tomasz Karwatka
Tomasz Karwatka

Supervisory Board Member at Divante. Leading industry voice who believes eCommerce can improve our world. Co-founder of Vue Storefront and Open Loyalty, angel investor, and founder of Tech To The Rescue. CoFounder at Catch The Tornado eCommerce Startup Studio

Care to share?

Currently, eCommerce area is growing but there are lots of B2B companies whose eCommerce sales got stuck at 10% share of total sales. Why can’t they grow online? Here are the main reasons.

No clear business model

Many companies don’t know how to create a coherent business model for online. Going into eCommerce means you will acquire customers directly. This might create distribution conflicts. You need a clear idea how to deal with it. And remember – 70% of successful omnichannel implementations start with Strategy.

No board involvement

To build effective eCommerce operations you must connect warehouses in your company and create new processes. There will be the people who don’t like this type of changes. You need direct involvement of the management board to do this. A great idea would be to take your C-level managers to eCommerce conferences (only to those with case studies presented). You could also visit eCommerce companies to learn firsthand about their experience. Remember: CEOs like to talk to the other CEOs. Just create this possibility for them!

Little talent

Unless it’s 3M, a typical B2B company isn’t the sexiest place for internet geeks to work in. Sometimes B2B companies have offices close to their factories or logistic centers on the outskirts of the city. This won’t help you too. Great developers like to work with other great developers so they prefer to work for pure-player companies or for IT companies. That’s why you should build a virtual team – some seasoned developers at an IT company + young developers on your side. These new guys will be happy to learn from experts and you will build your own team, without risking system stability.

IT is in a mess

To build eCommerce you need to connect plenty of internal systems. Unfortunately, a lot of companies still use old ERP, WMS and CRM systems that are hard to integrate. Suddenly, it occurs that you need to rebuild your IT architecture to be able to implement an eCommerce. I strongly recommend starting an eCommerce as a separate system in this case. It’s better to create workarounds rather than wait 3 years for new ERP system and, as a result – lose market share.

IT Department doesn’t cooperate

From time to time the problem is not the system itself but the attitude of IT guys. Some CTOs treat their departments as their own kingdoms. They can’t stand external contractors. They see them as competitors. Again – that’s why you need the management board in the process. Just set business goals and if they’re ambitious enough, your CTO will understand that it’s safer to outsource risk to external contractors. An IT department is usually great at maintaining core systems, but to build something new it’s usually better to use a dedicated software house.

What do you think? Have I missed anything?

Read also: What your software house won’t tell you

Published April 6, 2016