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E-COMMERCE PROCESSES IN PRACTISE
B2B and B2C implementation
Knowledge from experts
Useful hints and tips
A LITTLE
BOOK OF SUCCESS
B2B Commerce
How to become successful
Marcin Moska / mmoska@divante.pl
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction...................................................................................................................
B2B customers’ expectations in 2015........................................................................
Lean analytics in B2B....................................................................................................
Emotions and shopping lists.......................................................................................
How to implement B2B in a large trading organization..........................................
How to choose B2B platform software.....................................................................
Marketing automation in B2B. 5 ways to acquire a business customer.................
Contact..........................................................................................................................
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www.divante.co
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INTRODUCTION
Divante is one of the largest eCommerce agencies in Europe. We employ over
150 people working on projects for major companies. We are partners with eBay
Magento and SAP hybris.
Divante has been working for B2B customers for many years. We analyzed several
large and successful B2B eCommerce projects to develop a document that
presents the most critical B2B success factors.
More information about us can be found at www.divante.co.
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www.divante.co
B2B CUSTOMERS’
EXPECTATIONS IN 2015
Despite of the clear evidence that proves that customers prefer to search and
purchase goods online, B2B companies are reluctant to develop themselves in the
eCommerce field. Consequently, they lose the possibility to reach the customers
and, what is even worse, they give the opportunity to other companies to fill in this
gap. Therefore, let us define the expectations of B2B customers.
New habits
First of all, the Internet and technology play an important role in creating new
habits. In accordance with the studies conducted by Google, 84% of respondents
use the Internet to search for information about the products they want to buy.
54% compare the products online, while 37% of respondents claim that the reviews
posted online have a significant impact on their purchasing decisions. It should
come as no surprise - such a behavior allows the users to satisfy their needs
straightaway and gives them the possibility to verify their knowledge.
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It would be naive to think that the B2B sector customers do not act in the same
way. After all, the Internet has been present in their everyday, private lives for many
years now. They expect the same possibilities during the performance of their
professional duties.
Moreover, in accordance with the Intershop eCommerce 2012 report, the
customers expect a coherent communication pattern in many channels. New
technologies offer such a possibility, increasing the level of expectations at the
same time. It has become a huge problem for many companies. Users not only
expect similar experience as in the case of B2C (online stores), but also demand
solutions adjusted to their mobile devices. In many cases, the bar needs to be
raised two times in order to meet their needs.
Over 62% of the sales performed by TIM electrical wholesaler (a detailed case study
is presented in another part of the report) are generated by B2B eCommerce. Just
a year after its platform was established, a roof racks manufacturer Thule processes
80% of its orders through its thuleconnect.com website. The list of examples may
go on and on. B2B system is no longer an option to be considered, but rather
becomes a necessity.
B2C functionalities in B2B solutions
B2B businesses borrow the functionalities of B2C. There are many reasons for that,
but the most important one is related to the fact that the customers are used to
typical B2C eCommerce businesses (Amazon, eBay).
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Online product search and online transactions are conventionalized and the users
expect certain solutions. Everyone knows that the cart can be found in the upper
right corner of the browser.
The list below presents other well-known B2C functionalities that need to be
applied to B2B:
• High quality photos of the product, taken from various perspectives,
• Intelligent search engine with auto-suggest option,
• Multi-level categories with multi-attribute filters,
• Information on the product availability and delivery costs,
• SMS / Mobile notifications,
• LiveChat and other channels of contact.
The elements mentioned above are merely a part of the whole. There are many
many more. Most of them can be applied to B2B. However, B2B sales are much
more complicated. A good eCommerce business needs to map a complex trading
process. Without the use of appropriate functionalities, the entire platform would
be useless.
In his book titled “Effortless experience”, Matt Dixon presents the results of his long-
term studies that show the method in which the character of interaction between
the customers and companies change. More and more people start to choose
self-service software (self-care) rather than direct contact with a living person. B2B
platform fits this trend ideally.
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Dedicated B2B functions
In order to attract the users, the platform has to facilitate their professional
obligations. Price is the first and most basic matter. Individual adjustment is a must.
Does it make any sense to use an online solution if we cannot see the costs of our
purchase in real time? If the customers are forced to calculate the price on their
own, they will simply give up. They will write emails or make calls in order to have
these calculations performed for them by the seller. That is why it is so important to
pay much attention to the integration of ERP/CRM systems during an eCommerce
implementation process. Such systems are used to store the negotiated discount
conditions.
What is more, the customers want to place their orders in a form and at a time that
is convenient to them. Many users spend whole days on a site, for instance on a
construction site. They often need to order the goods on an ongoing basis, when
they run out of things they require for their work. If the supplier does not provide a
mobile application or a responsive website, such a user will be discouraged.
Good B2B platforms make it possible to save the cart contents or add products
to the cart during the whole day, allowing to place an entire order at the end of
the delivery window (e.g. at 3 pm). Such a solution saves the time of customers -
knowing that the product they ordered will be delivered to the specified location
on the next day.
Many customers want to place their orders in the evening,in front of their computers,
at home. During their working hours, they are not certain, so they perform other
tasks to save time. In the afternoon, using their laptops or tablets, they look for
information they need, compare products and consider other alternatives. No call
center works for that long. A B2B system will satisfy such needs. There are several
dozen of functionalities that can be used to map the complex purchase process in
B2B eCommerce. It would take too much space to present them here.
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The most common and typical B2B functionalities include:
• List of contractors with verification,
• Individual or collective negotiation of discounts / price lists,
• Presentation of a product catalogue adapted to a large assortment and taking
into account the users who know the assortment (for instance facilitating the
product code search),
• Wholesale ordering system with the use of advanced techniques, such as order
files or offer creation,
• Consultants who can accept the order on behalf of the customer by the phone /
email / during a meeting,
• Saving and sharing the cart contents,
• Forms of payments that are typical for B2B (for instance trade credit).
To conclude - in 2015, B2B customers learn quickly about the new technologies and
expect solutions that can meet their expectations. They want to have the ability to
order products at any time and by any channel - more and more often they choose
eCommerce.
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LEAN ANALYTICS IN B2B
Lean analytics philosophy is based on a quick and iterative learning cycle. Learning
process may be presented in the form of a following loop: creation -> measurement
-> conclusion -> creation.
Lean analytics method allows for the measurement of the progress made,
encourages to ask simple, yet precise questions and to find the answers. It is often
noted that the companies tend to get lost in the excess of information and data.
In most cases, it would be more efficient to focus on one, most important factor,
determine its reference value and try to achieve it. At the same time, to limit does
not mean to lower the quality or costs.
It is much easier to transpose the lean analytics philosophy to the actions performed
by B2C companies. Does it mean that such an approach does not have make any
sense in the case of B2B?
Quite the contrary! The fundamental assumption telling us that all decisions
should be made on the basis of the obtained data is applicable to all kinds of
organizations. What we need to remember is that the observed factors and metrics,
which differ from those that fit the B2C sector companies, need to be appropriately
adjusted. Frequently, the methods of data acquisition have to be adjusted as well.
The ultimate effect however – more knowledge that allows to make good decisions
– is priceless.
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The most important analytical factors in the company market (B2B) include:
• Customers’ involvement
Are the customers involved in the purchase process related to our product or
service? Are they willing to talk? Do they communicate their feelings about our
offer? Are they interested? Answers to those questions may give us an image of
our future sales. Whether the customers use our product with visible involvement
or not, should also be considered. How often do they do it? How much time has
passed since the last time they used it? Can we transpose the use of our product
to increase our efficiency?
• Publishing the first versions of the product
In the case of B2B companies, it is possible to monitor the interest (actual or
declarative) in the first versions of the new products, test versions, proofs of
concept or beta versions. This interest may not translate into actual revenue, but
will allow for an estimation of the future sales revenue.
• Product usability
The product needs to be simple and easy to use for all interested users. The
customers should not need any additional training to be able to use the offered
product.
• Costs of the integration process
In the case of B2B sector, the integration process may turn out to be the most
important cost generator. That is why a precise measurement of this factor is
especially important. The following questions may be asked: How much does it
cost us to provide a pre-sale service? How much does it cost us to provide a post-
sale service? How much does it cost us to personalize the offer to adjust it to a
specific customer? How much does it cost us to train the customers to use the
product? How much does it cost us to provide support in case of any problems?
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• Limitation of the scope of cooperation
This aspect of customer support service is often neglected. Some customers cause
more problems than profit – for instance by asking disproportionate amount of
questions to the customer support employees. In order to scale the operation, we
need to define a good and efficient method to gradually get rid of such customers.
A good solution may be to divide the customers into segments and determine, in
accordance with the Pareto principle, which 20% of them generate 80% of costs.
• Obtaining feedback
Another important aspect of B2B operations is to acquire the return information
from the customers and partners of the company. Maintenance of appropriate
relations with the customers may become one of the most efficient sources of new
sales leads. Continuous acquisition of feedback makes it possible to modify and
adjust the offered product to the market needs. Customers will be happy feeling
that their opinion matters, while we will be able to create a more attractive product.
It is a win-win situation.
It is also a good idea to introduce the elementary assumptions of a well-performed
analytics into our B2B system. Certainly, it will help us to draw valid conclusions and
make right decisions in the future.
The article was written on the basis of the book: Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build
a Better Startup Faster, written by: Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz
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EMOTIONS
AND SHOPPING LISTS
A B2B online store will never replace a professional seller. Nevertheless, it should
be designed in such a way to create a shopping experience, that is as close to the
conversation with a good consultant as possible. That is why it is important to have
an efficient search engine and appropriate navigation system.
Spontaneous decisions and calculated budgets
The obvious difference between B2B and B2C lies in the principles that govern
the purchase process. In the case of the store – consumer relations, it is the buyer
who decides about the transaction. As for the company – in company relations, the
amount of decision-makers is usually higher. B2B does not give much space for
spontaneous shopping, for rapid purchasing decisions dictated by the brand loyalty.
Positive emotions are less important than the transparency of the ordering system
and quality of the provided information about the product. Instead of their hearts,
buyers follow a shopping list designed by their employers. It means that not all
business solutions that generate online retail store profits will be equally efficient
in the B2B sector. When the offer is presented, the emphasis should be put not on
showing the most popular or fashionable products, but on making it possible to
find the goods in a quick and easy manner.
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Growing expectations of the customers
Online shopping is easy, convenient and fast – it needs to be, in order to satisfy
demanding consumers, who in turn will shift their expectations to B2B sales
services. Easy search for relevant information on the Internet has already become a
standard, therefore finding a product must not be troublesome. Even though every
seller is aware of that fact, the “easy, convenient and fast” remains only a marketing
slogan, instead of becoming a specific demand towards the sales system. Such
demands may be determined on the basis of the best marketing practices.
What should we demand of our search engine?
The easiest method to determine the demands towards a search engine is to specify the
things that should not be demanded from the customer – for instance the knowledge of
a detailed catalogue name of the product, correct spelling of the phrase in the search
box, knowledge of the orthography or foreign names. In other words – the search
system needs to be fault-tolerant in terms of spelling. Regardless of the mistake made
by the customer, the search results should present an appropriate offer.
If the buyer does not know the catalogue name of the product, the search engine
should have the possibility to find it by searching the data provided in the descriptive
fields, checking various attributes – e.g. color, size, length, width. TIM’s customers are
pleased with the search engine that allows them to review the offer by referring to the
barcode or producer’s symbol. Such a solution saves their time, because regardless of
the information possessed by the buyers, they are still able to find the products in the
supplier’s system.
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The list below presents questions that may be used to check whether the
applied search system makes it easier for the customers to review the offer:
• Is the customer able to find a product if he/she does not know its catalogue
name?
• Is the customer able to find the product if he/she knows its most important
features – i.e. does the search engine support the so called “long tail” –
queries such as “copper cable twin-lead”?
• How does the search engine cope with typos and spelling mistakes?
Getting to the point - Features of a good
navigation system
When making a regular purchase for a company in accordance with the detailed
guidelines, the customer may be assisted by an efficient search engine. But when
a product needs to be selected from a large product group, the customer will
have to count on the navigation system. If we were to compare such search to a
conversation with the seller: the customers do not need to precisely specify their
expectations - to do so, they will have to know everything about the product.
Instead, a qualified and experienced seller should ask the customer the basic yes-
no questions. This way, the seller will be able to provide the customer with the best
possible option.
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The list below presents questions that may be used to check whether the
applied navigation system serves its purpose:
• Is the customer able to choose a product on the basis of important criteria
(e.g. producer’s name)?
• Are the important selection criteria (e.g. price) always well visible?
• Will the customer obtain the same list of products when checking the
same parameters – regardless of the chosen menu?
A good filtering system, that does not confuse
the customer
That is why it is very important to apply the same product segmentation rules to the entire
shopping system – i.e. if customers can make a choice with the use of an upper or side
menu (usually located on the left side), then regardless whether they prefer to click in the
upper or left section of the page,they should navigate within the same product groups.
In the case of more advanced product information management systems, the most
popular filters should be always visible. If most users check the producer – filter
with producers should be located at the top. If they are interested in size – this filter
should be in the top position. This way, the customers start to make their queries
more precise, starting from the most important guidelines. If apart from the given
criterion, the customers are provided with the amount of products that meet the
specified requirement, they will see whether they have only 3 products to choose
from, or whether they have for instance 200 options, forcing them to narrow their
search by applying several more filters.
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Information for the seller
B2B search systems can help the seller as well. Implemented in internal systems,
they make it possible to quickly find information about the offer, price, availability
etc. The technology can assist the seller in checking the offer, i.e. in searching
through databases that often contain several hundred thousand products. Due to
such solutions, the seller has more time to talk with the customer. And even though
the purchase process in B2B is associated with fewer emotions than spontaneous
shopping in B2C, the H2H – human to human relation is still the most important one.
The text was written by:
Katarzyna Jeznach, FACT-Finder.
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HOW TO IMPLEMENT
B2B IN A LARGE TRADING
ORGANIZATION
TIM is a distributor of electro-technical products.The company is proud of the sales
that it made through the Internet, in December 2014. 3 years ago, online sales were
virtually absent in TIM.
The interview was given by Artur Piekarczyk, Vice-President of TIM’s Management
Board.
eCommerce has been present at TIM for almost two years now and it turned out
to be a huge success. B2B sector displays a considerable aversion and reluctance
towards Internet sales. How did it happen that you chose to take such an intense
direction towards the Internet?
Indeed, during the last two years we have staked everything on eCommerce. The
first thought about the Internet sales appeared already in 2006, when we decided
to build a logistics center in Siechnice, near Wrocław, Poland.
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President of TIM SA Management Board, Krzysztof Folta, developed a strategy that
included the ability to serve our customers directly from this center, without the use
of local warehouses. Back then, we didn’t think about eCommerce. It was rather a
vision that needed couple of years to become a strategy for the entire TIM holding.
Our adventure with the Internet sales began three years ago. We started with B2C
sector and our BankKabli.pl portal. We bought shares of Marketeo.com company
(currently Rotopino.pl) and learned how to achieve the professional level of
customer service in B2B model, which has always been and will be dominant at
our company. We managed to gather a group of eCommerce professionals and
enthusiasts and we began the biggest transformation in the 25 years history of TIM
SA – we developed and launched the TIM online store (www.tim.pl).
Was it a success? This matter is always verified by time. Changes that take place in
the widely perceived trading market are huge, it is difficult to follow the progress in
this field. Companies such as Amazon.com show how the way in which the products
and services are sold can be changed.It is crucial not to overlook this.Our president,
Krzysztof Folta, has always been and still is the main driving force responsible for
the introduction of this new model at TIM SA. It was him who noticed the need for
change in the company, long before the market trends managed to reach us. He
used to quote Peter Drucker’s words: “Demography and technology determine
the strategies that will prevail in the future”. We simply followed this advice...
Since July 2014, TIM SA has been a rightful member of the world of eCommerce-
we do not use local warehouses anymore, we only maintain trading offices that
help our customers to handle our trading platform and prepare the offers for key
customers. A month earlier, we became a member of the Polish e-Chamber, which
gathers companies operating in the Polish eCommerce sector. Success... I still wait
for it, but for now, we focus on hard and arduous work that needs to be done
to introduce the electro-technical industry into the world of the Internet. We are
pioneers, so we hope that the success will become our ally.
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From the perspective of time, what was the
most difficult challenge on your way towards
the online channel? Did the expected
challenges prove to be the most difficult?
We feel that we are creating this company from scratch. Every day brings new
challenges, our plans that were developed a month ago, are already outdated. Each
owner or employee of a startup company knows what I’m talking about.
As for the challenges - certainly it is difficult to convince the employees to introduce
new ideas, especially such radical ones. Moreover, our vision and strategy need to be
legible to the Board of Directors and owners. We cannot begin without their support
and - as you can see - the project is planned to last for many years. The capital that is
required to introduce such changes is huge.For the last several years,TIM SA has spent
almost 40 million zlotys to acquire the know-how and to modernize our IT and logistics
systems. In fact, we had to create a completely new company, so we needed to have
access to a considerable amount of financial means and we had to obtain the consent
to use them.
Today’s challenge is to meet our customers’ expectations. It has been our primary
objective since the very beginning, but we did not anticipate such a huge interest in
such a short time. Despite the fact that TIM SA has one of the best logistics systems in
the industry, we constantly need to adjust ourselves to the increasing scale - we did not
expect such intensity.It causes the necessity to accelerate the investments related to the
development of our logistics center in Siechnice. To put it simply, time in eCommerce
flies faster. You need to remember about that. The only thing we don’t have today is
time to prepare ourselves for the rising wave of the interest in our services and products.
Our slogan “TIMe is money!” has just taken on a new dimension.
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Were you afraid that your relations with the
market will deteriorate? How did you cope
with this situation?
The market is a difficult subject. All producers, wholesalers or other distributors
want to increase their sales, but everybody wants stabilization and peace as well.
The ideal is to earn a lot of money and have time for your family. And then you
retire... eCommerce changes this idyll in a way that is uncontrollable from the
perspective of traditional business models. Changes are quick and profound - they
influence the distribution channels, levels of acceptable margins and profitability,
you need to make strategic decisions that were not needed earlier. This causes
aversion towards the pioneers.
The fear of the uncertain future is so bad that many companies act even against
themselves, trying to stop the inevitable. The leaders are left alone. Nobody wants
to help. You need to have nerves out of steel and patience to go through this initial
stage. The Internet cannot be stopped, you have to live with it. No one will escape
it, but you will always find those who support the old, proven methods, who try to
save their businesses by putting the cart before the horse. We were also afraid of
our customers’ reactions. Actually, some of our old customers did not accept the
new model and service methods. But the new ones - especially those operating in
the area that are not directly related to our field - help us to achieve our assumed
goals.
Conclusion - you need to think about those who are ready. The rest will come
back anyway, sooner or later. Generally speaking, it’s not easy, and you need to
remember about this problem as well.
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Is there anything you would have done
differently, if you had the knowledge you
have now? If so, what is it and why would
you change it?
Today we know much more, but still not enough to give any advice on how to
perform such a process in a perfect way. If you want to begin the eCommerce
adventure, you will certainly have to learn two strategies: proven method of the
bottlenecks elimination and the method of successive approximation.
If you think: “I have everything planned up”, “nothing will surprise me”, “I know
everything, I’ve learned it already”, you are certainly off the track. The world of the
Internet is no longer as predictable as the traditional trade model, there are no
unambiguous rules and business schools that can teach you in this field. You need
to have an open mind, flexibility and you have to be open to the things that are
different, to large amounts of eager collaborators, large amounts of cash and huge
amounts of work. Everyday work, like in the case of a startup - from night to night,
nonstop.
Transition from the classic model to eCommerce is a difficult task. Everyone who
decides to pick up the gauntlet needs a lot of coherency, patience and a little bit
of luck. From today’s perspective, I wouldn’t have changed anything, even though I
would have made some strategic decisions much quicker if I had known things that
I know now. However, I have no simple recipe for success. For sure, one needs to
be determined to achieve the assumed goals and be conscious of numerous traps
and troubles that lurk in the way.
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HOW TO CHOOSE A B2B
PLATFORM SOFTWARE?
The choice of a shopping platform is a decision that is difficult to revoke in the
future. Implementation of new technology is a time-consuming and expensive
process. Especially if the selected platform needs to be adjusted to the specific
business needs. Nevertheless, it is still cheaper than the change of the platform in
the future.
Evolution of needs
Today’s market offers a whole variety of the Internet sales platforms. There are
numerous licensing models and implementation scenarios. The choice of a
proper software is crucial, because it influences not only the time and cost of
implementation, but also determines the capability to develop the given platform
in the future.
Thefirststageof thesoftwareselectionprocessistodeterminethekeyrequirements.
It is very important to specify detailed and precise functional and non-functional
requirements.
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To do so, you may ask yourself the following questions:
• How will we use our administration panel? Do we have many products that we
would like to edit simultaneously?
• What options of discounts and promotions need to be available to make it
possible for us to present our products in accordance with the business model?
• Are our products unusual in some way (e.g. configurable, composed of
numerous elements etc.)?
• Do we need integrations (e.g. with the chosen accounting system)?
• How will we deliver our products? Which freight forwarding agent will we use?
How will we manage the payments?
When determining the requirements, we will be able to answer the question: “Is there
a software that meets all our requirements or will we have to introduce any dedicated
changes?”. If the software will require some changes, it is important to answer the
followingquestions:“Dowewanttointroducethesechangesonourownordowehave
to employ programmers, graphic designers or a technical team? Will we outsource the
introduction of changes, because we lack the internal competence to introduce them
ourselves?”.
Another key question is: “How much money are we willing to spend to start our platform
and what perspectives for the development will appear (will we have to add some new
functionalities, product types in a year or two years’ time)?”. Knowing the answers, we
will be able to review the available platforms and make an appropriate decision.
Apart from the specific software brands and available functionalities, eCommerce
platforms may be divided into:
1. Dedicated platforms.
2. Boxed software:
• Boxed proprietary software (purchased),
• Boxed proprietary software (leased),
• Boxed open source software.
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Such a division is based on several key parameters:
• Possibility (or lack of possibility) to introduce dedicated changes and
functionalities available in the standard,
• Method of settlement/payment, including implementation costs,
• Licenses and openness to modifications.
A choice that is ideal for a beginning enterprise may be ineffective in the case of a
company that has been operating in the market for some time and is now looking
for new development perspectives. All available options should be reviewed and
the decision should not be made hastily. It is easy to make a cost-efficient choice,
but it may limit the capabilities of our business. On the other hand, it is equally easy
to choose software that offers many functions that we will not be able to use.
Small companies and startups frequently choose boxed software – mainly due to
the costs. Regardless of the form (software installed on a server or available as
SaaS), such a decision is often justified. Costs are small and we get a possibility to
verify our business model and to quickly start our platform.
However, these advantages are accompanied by the drawbacks, which tend to
appear very quickly, especially in the case of B2B platforms. They are related to
the need of development, modification and integration of the given software
with IT systems used in the company. Due to licensing reasons or because of the
form of distribution (SaaS), proprietary software is very difficult to modify. In many
cases, the user needs to commission the modifications to the producer, and some
changes may not be possible at all.
If we need to integrate our store with any existing system, such as ERP, CRM, WMS,
we quickly reach the limit of our capabilities. In such a situation, the only choice is
to replace the platform with a more flexible one.
We will have two options left – boxed software with open source license or a
dedicated platform.
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Comparison of the available software
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100% dedicated software myth
One advantage of such an approach is the possibility of developing a platform that is
perfectly adjusted to an IT environment that exists in the given company (for instance-
easy integration with the accounting or warehouse systems). Sometimes, such an
approach is the only one that is possible. If we want to apply an unusual business
model (for example group shopping), we need to handle an atypical product (e.g.
configurable or digital products) or we have to manage a complex purchase path, then
our only way is to modify our software.
However,dedicatedsoftwareimpliesresponsibility.Apartfromthecostandtimeaspect
(developing software from scratch is usually very expensive and time-consuming), you
will have to evaluate your ability to design and implement a system with competitive
advantageous features. What if this process takes too much time? The existing
applications are developed over many years. During that time, their creators make
and eliminate hundreds of errors. We will have to design the entire system, develop
documentation, perform programming works and tests (other producers spend
several dozen of hours every month to test their software). We will not be able to count
on the updates issued by the producer (we are the producer!). We will not get any
additional functionalities, any potential issues will not be solved by free updates. The
cost of a software modification and maintenance can be much higher than the cost of
implementation of the first version.
Advantage of open source solutions
The market offers several good open source solutions, for instance Magento platform,
which has gained much popularity. Due to its open source license, such software may
be freely adjusted to its users’ needs.The users may modify only those mechanisms that
should work in a dedicated manner, while the rest may operate without any changes.
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You need to remember however, that if you decide to introduce any significant system
modification on your own, you will probably lose the possibility of installing new
updates published by the producer. If an update requires any base code modification,
it is likely that you will have to compare and merge files manually.
Development of the open source projects is also beneficial to the producers of
commercial solutions. IBM, RedHat, Varien, Intel and others develop and support
open source projects. On the one hand, big companies perceive such a model as an
advertisement (open source solutions give them the possibility to reach more users,
who will learn about the given solution and may need the commercial versions or
support in the future). On the other hand, such an approach allows them to use the
knowledge and experience of programmers or programming enthusiasts, who will
deliver new modules or detect and eliminate any possible errors.
Due to the high business safety,relatively low implementation costs and flexibility,open
source software is an ideal choice for B2B platforms, allowing for the introduction of
dedicated changes (like in the case of a platform developed from scratch), but without
the loss of the producer’s support and updates. We stand on the shoulders of giants to
create a solution adjusted to our business.
Choosing a platform for medium and large
companies
In the case of the medium and large companies, we should answer one key question
about the possibility of software development and maintenance. Companies that
are just starting out may go for a ready-made platform that does not allow to change
anything but the looks. In the course of time however, the company begins to develop
itself andsoonerorlateritwillfacenewchallengesthatwillrequirecertainmodifications.
28
When it comes to the software development, the IT departments often need to cope
with such problems as:
• License that makes it impossible to introduce any changes. Developer licenses (with
expanded scope, giving the possibility to develop the software on one’s own) are too
expensive.Restrictivelicensesontheotherhand,disablethepossibilityof introducing
any changes without the producer’s contribution.
• Confusing code - introduction of changes is very time-consuming and programmers
are afraid to modify anything.
• No documentation - changes need to be introduced by trial and error, which may
cause measurable losses in sales.
• No support from the producer - when an error occurs, the programmers are on
their own.
There are cases in which the software of companies (even the big ones) needs to
be migrated and “rewritten”. Drastic changes may be avoided by performing an
appropriate pre-implementation analysis.
It is just like in the case of marriage — you need to learn something about each
other first. If not, the subsequent revolutions will bring about significant losses.
First of all - license
There are many types of software licenses. If our software was released in a
subscription model (SaaS - Software as a Service), it will be practically impossible
to introduce any changes. If our software works on our servers, we will need to
carefully study its license. In the case of open source licenses, such as OSL, GPL,
BSD, LGPL, we will be able to introduce modifications.
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29
www.divante.co
Open source software encourages the use of plugins. When using the plugins, it
is necessary to check if and how we will be able to modify them. Plugins are often
released under their own licenses, which can be different than the base software
license.
Open source licenses differ in details — including the models of distribution of the
introduced changes. This model is very important. We will not be willing to share
our source codes with other companies, when creating unique programming
solutions that can be used as a competitive advantage.
Some open source licenses are based on the following assumption: if our changes
were introduced within the modules (plugins that do not alter the base code of
the platform), then we can release them under any license (open source is not
obligatory). In the case of the changes introduced in the base software, the license
provisions may vary. Therefore, it may be a good idea to consult your choice with a
lawyer, in order to avoid an improper interpretation.
In the case of the commercial software, the situation is more complicated. We
will have to learn whether the producer accepts the possibility to introduce our
own changes. Will we have access to the source code at all? In most cases, the
possibility of changing the code is guaranteed only after a special developer
license is acquired. The price of such a license may be very high.
Our implementation agreement should include a provision that would guarantee
the transfer of copyright to all performed modifications and works. For instance,
without the right to modify the graphic files of our store, the introduction of further
changes may be as difficult as in the case of no access to the source codes.
30
www.divante.co
Implementation portfolio
In order to check whether the given platform is easy to develop and maintain, you
may want to check its implementation portfolio. It is a good idea to verify whether
the platform is being modified by its current users. You may ask them (for instance
on an Internet forum) about the modification process, how it looked like and
whether it was difficult. The amount of customers itself may tell us whether the
software is good or not.
An implementation portfolio and the amount of users are especially important in
the case of open source software. Checking the amount of new stores and users,
you will be able to evaluate whether the software is still being actively developed.
Producer’s support
Even if we use an open source platform, we often may be able to purchase the
producer’s support. The fact that the authors of the given software offer such a
service is a sign of professionalism. In crisis situations, the producer’s support may
help us to quickly eliminate any possible errors.
In the case of the proprietary platforms, such a support is very important. When a
problem occurs, we will not be able to consult the community (for instance on an
Internet forum). Stability of the producer is another important factor. If the producer
is a small company, it may cease to develop the software or terminate its operation.
31
Documentation
Documentation supports the programmers during the application development
process. Technical documentation that describes the source code architecture,
methods of adding modules and performing the most basic programming
operations is a minimum. Documentation development is a relatively tedious and
laborious process. In the case of the open source projects, it is frequently assumed
that the source code documents itself. Documentation is ignored by the authors.
Such an approach can be justified to some extent. This way, we do not have to face
the descriptions that are outdated or misleading.
However, in the case of a large-scale system, a documentation is a must. Without
it, such actions like hiring and introducing a new programmer would take a
disproportionate amount of time. Time that such a programmer would have to
spend to learn the software by trial and error.
In the case of dedicated software, before an agreement is signed, you should
review the documentation attached to the developer license.
Architecture
The software architecture is of crucial importance in terms of the technical aspects.
Before a specific platform may be chosen, the programmers should analyze its source
code. The possibility to review the fragments of the code of a proprietary platform
speaks well of its producer. The software should allow for the creation of plugins and
work in the event model.
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32
Such an architecture makes it possible to add new functionalities and to change the
operation of the existing functionalities without the need to modify the base code. It is
difficult to imagine a platform that does not support a template mechanism that can be
used to modify the appearance without the need to change the code. Especially in the
beginning, such modifications will be very frequent.
The source code should be written with the use of design patterns as well. Not only do
they increase the flexibility — their most basic function is to make the communication
between the developers easier. The use of patterns enables better understanding of
the way the code works. The application should be divided into layers. Minimum
set includes: Model, View, Controller (MVC — a division commonly known as the
pattern). The layers are separated, so the changes introduced in one layer do
not cause any changes in other layers. Due to such a division, the introduction
of changes, for instance in the database communication, does not influence the
operation of the code responsible for the form logics. At least theoretically.
The source code should be documented at least at a basic level (roles of classes
and methods, obligatorily the types and meanings of the method arguments,
especially in the case of script languages without strict standardization). Moreover,
we should verify whether the code is written in accordance with the uniform coding
standards. Are the variables named in accordance with the same pattern, are there
any code fragments that are written in a different language (for instance Polish
and English names). Such factors are not superficial. If the code is not ordered, the
application will increase its entropy (chaos) much quicker, limiting the possibility of
its development.
If we want to create various language versions of our software, we should check
whether the code was written with the use of such tools as gettext or in accordance
with the internationalization standards. The matter also concerns the support of
various cultural aspects (currencies, numerals and date formats).
www.divante.co
33
The possibilities of embedment in the
IT enviroment
Sales platforms are usually “adapted” to an IT environment of the given company.
In such cases, they need to be integrated with the existing systems that are used
to support the sales. Standard integrations include ERP, CRM and WMS systems
or PIM system, if it exists (or MDM – Master Data Management, a system used to
gather and categorize product descriptions). Not all platforms are equally easy
to integrate. You need to check the availability of programming interfaces and
possibilities of data import/export.
Considering the aspects that merge the functionalities with the source code, we
need to verify whether the given application has a WebAPI (e.g. SOAP) or does it
have an API at all. API is an Application Programming Interface that can be made
available by adding libraries to the code or through the network (WebAPI) in the
form of network services. API shares more complicated algorithms and allows the
developers to automate their operations without the need to change the base
code of their system. If data may be imported/exported through the API, then
future integrations will be much easier.
Certainly, the introduced changes will require many modifications in the database
operations. You should make sure that the base structure is compatible with the
market standards. Is the database normalized? Are the commonly known patterns
applied? Does the base support the EAV model (Entity-Attribute-Value), which
makes it possible to add the fields and attributes to all data models? Is the naming
convention uniform? Did the authors think about the proper use of indexes and
search mechanisms?
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34
Automated tests
Changing the code that we did not create ourselves is very stressful. With scarce
documentation and no support from the authors, the stress is even greater.
Automated unit tests constitute a great advantage in such a situation. In such a
case, even if the source code requires refactoring (change of structure without the
change of operation), the tests will make it possible to quickly detect any possible
errors in the operation of the modified application.
However, a situation when a large system is fully covered by unit tests is very rare.
Open source software (like Prestashop or Magento) usually offer automated tests
that cover only a small amount of modules. Therefore, the automated tests cannot
be treated as a key factor during the software selection process, but we should
appreciate them if they are available. It speaks well of the authors’ responsibility.
History of changes
If we take over an existing platform from another company, it is important to get all
information about the changes introduced during the entire development process.
If a revision control system and ticket system (such as Redmine) were applied, the task
will be simple. In most cases, these systems contain key information about the changes
introduced in the system.
However,ifthecontractordidnotactinaccordancewiththegoodsoftwaredevelopment
practice, the takeover may be difficult. We can compare this situation to a construction
site, where the contractor forgot to mark the location of the electrical wiring in the walls
of a building. You may drill, but it is risky. It may turn out that many algorithms work
completely different than it was described in the documentation. In such a case, we
have to ask for an update of the project and documentation.
www.divante.co
35
www.divante.co
MARKETING
AUTOMATION IN B2B.
5 WAYS TO ACQUIRE A
BUSINESS CUSTOMER
Contact forms, landing pages, lead nurturing, lead routing, contact scoring and
alerts efficiently support the work of sales departments in business to business
relations. We may use the available mechanisms to optimize and automate the
entire process from establishing the contact to acquiring the customer.
Change in the purchase process
50% of B2B buyers begin their purchases by browsing for offers online. Direct
phone contact with the company is now the 4th most popular way to make the first
contact and to begin a B2B purchase process. Moreover, such an online search is
performed by as much as 90% of all buyers. It means that the majority of purchasers
moved online. It also means that the purchase and sales processes, which used to
be performed in parallel, became separated.
36
The purchase process is a set of actions that need to be performed in order to buy
something. Analogically speaking, the sales process is a set of actions performed
in order to sell something. If the first contact with the company is made by phone
or during a visit in the office, then these processes begin at the same moment.
Today, the sales process begins at the moment when roughly 70% of the purchase
process is complete when the customer had already performed an online search
and gathered a sufficient amount of information to be ready to make direct contact
with the given company. Conclusion: the companies lose control over the buyers.
Study of the customers’ interests
In such a situation, the primary objective of all companies should be to ensure
the highest possible probability of being chosen by the customer. Appropriate
marketing automation processes can help to achieve that goal. Such systems
allow for the identification and monitoring of people and companies that visit our
website. This functionality informs us about the interest of our potential customers
already at the beginning of the purchase process.
We do not only know about the customers’ interest, but also about the subject
of their interest. Each action performed by a person or company in practically
every marketing channel is monitored and helps to create a behavioral profile of
the subject, which in turn allows us to adapt our marketing operations in order to
provide all customers with information they specifically need at that given moment.
This way, we may lead our customers straight to the purchase. Ok, but what exactly
should we do? The further part of this article presents 5 ideas that may help you to
acquire a B2B customer.
www.divante.co
37
www.divante.co
Inbound Marketing – attracting and acquiring
the customers with the content
If customers begin their purchases with an online search, then the online contents
can be used to attract them. A company’s blog is a perfect way to encourage the
customers to visit the company’s website. Interesting articles about the industry,
giving advice, presenting good practices or report analyses attract the customers
who look for specific information in their browsers.
After we catch their attention, it is time for a certain bargain. Here we may use
some simple elements, such as eBooks or our originally developed reports. When
a user wants to download our own work, we should allow it, but only after the user
gives us an email address. Simple barter – cool and valuable work in exchange for
contact data. Sharing the contents completely “for free” makes us lose the potential
customers and new sources of income.
Lead nurturing
– prepare the customer to make a purchase
Do you think that our new contact, who has just downloaded our eBook or other
reports, is ready to make a purchase and contact our sales department? In 80%
of cases, the answer is no. Identification and monitoring of contacts will make it
possible to point out these 20% of those who are ready to buy. What about the
rest? These people are still performing the first 70% of their purchase processes
and need more information before they can be contacted directly. Lead nurturing
is a solution for this problem. SALESmanago Marketing Automation allows for the
performance of educational operations that will prepare our potential customers
to make a decision on the purchase.
38
Lead nurturing involves providing the customer with educational messages to:
• Present the company and its operations;
• Describe the key features of the offered product;
• Show the values associated with the purchase;
• Present the ways the product can be used and its potential results;
• Provide other information necessary to make a purchase.
Educating the contacts and delivering them to the sales department only after they
received an appropriate batch of information from the company, makes them more
eager to buy. Moreover, our sellers will work with people whose needs are already
known to the company and who possess the necessary amount of knowledge.
Companies that use lead nurturing methods increase their sales conversion rate
by 50% on average.
Lead routing – contacts flow management
So, we managed to acquire and prepare our customer to contact our sellers. The
first direct contact with an employee usually sets the direction of further talks and
strongly conditions the “sales winning” probability. Therefore, we should deliver
the contact to an appropriate person. If we have several services or product
segments in our offer and employ specialized traders, or if we have several
customer segments, then regardless of the given customer’s interests or group,
the contact may be automatically delivered to an appropriate seller.
This way, from the very beginning, the customer will be confronted with a person
that is most competent in the given situation and the whole sales process will be
performed much smoother and quicker and is more likely to be successful.
www.divante.co
39
www.divante.co
Contact scoring
– prioritization of potential customers
Each company that possesses a CRM system and operates in the B2B sector uses
various mechanisms to determine the priority of contacts and to match their
potential customers with the company’s offer. Frequently, such an evaluation
is based on the position and decisiveness of the acquired contact, size of the
company, turnover, potential budget and several other factors.
SALESmanago adds another element that was not available earlier – involvement.
The customer’s involvement is measured with the use of contact scoring. Each
activity of potential customers causes an attribution of the specified amount of
points. Adding such a parameter to the evaluation of the given customer’s potential
may completely alter the priority of this contact.
If a large company with a big budget does not react at all and is not active, its
priority is reduced. On the other hand, a smaller company, which has a theoretically
lower priority, but responds actively and visits our website to look for information
turns out to be a very important potential customer that is more likely to sign
an agreement with us. Moreover, the complete image of the given company’s
purchasing interests will help us to manage our sales representatives.
Each business trip costs money, so the ability to send the representatives only to
those more perspective customers will entirely change the efficiency of the sales,
their cost and performed goals.
40
Automated sales alerts
Identification and monitoring of the contacts’ behavior allows for one more
neat operation. If we precisely monitor the activity on our website and in other
marketing channels, we may automatically inform our sellers that their potential
customer has just:
• Viewed the price list,
• Received an email offer,
• Exceeded a certain threshold of scoring points,
• Downloaded a material from the website,
• Moved on to the next stage of our sales campaign or is very active at the current stage,
• Attended an online meeting,
• Behaved in another way that is important from the sales perspective.
Summary
These elementary actions can be performed by any B2B company to bring about
measurable benefits. Obviously, the methods presented above are just a fraction
of all capabilities of the marketing automation systems. Nevertheless, even those
basic actions will help any company to generate more potential customers and
more potential customers that are ready to buy.
The company will start to sell more and due to the introduced automation and
better use of the sales department’s potential, it will be able to optimize the sales
costs and obtain substantial savings.
www.divante.co
41
www.divante.co
Contact
Want to talk about B2B? Contact us!
Tomasz Karwatka
CEO
tkarwatka@divante.co
Ernest Trochimczuk
CSO
etrochimczuk@divante.co
Marta Miszczak
Sales Manager
mmiszczak@divante.co
Krzysztof Podeszwa
Sales Manager
kpodeszwa@divante.co
42
Divante LTD
14 Kosciuszki Street
50-038 Wroclaw, Poland
sales@divante.co
(+48) 797 340 458
www.divante.co

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B2B Commerce - how to become successful

  • 1. E-COMMERCE PROCESSES IN PRACTISE B2B and B2C implementation Knowledge from experts Useful hints and tips A LITTLE BOOK OF SUCCESS B2B Commerce How to become successful Marcin Moska / mmoska@divante.pl
  • 2. 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction................................................................................................................... B2B customers’ expectations in 2015........................................................................ Lean analytics in B2B.................................................................................................... Emotions and shopping lists....................................................................................... How to implement B2B in a large trading organization.......................................... How to choose B2B platform software..................................................................... Marketing automation in B2B. 5 ways to acquire a business customer................. Contact.......................................................................................................................... 3 4 9 12 17 22 35 41 www.divante.co
  • 3. 3 INTRODUCTION Divante is one of the largest eCommerce agencies in Europe. We employ over 150 people working on projects for major companies. We are partners with eBay Magento and SAP hybris. Divante has been working for B2B customers for many years. We analyzed several large and successful B2B eCommerce projects to develop a document that presents the most critical B2B success factors. More information about us can be found at www.divante.co. www.divante.co
  • 4. 4 www.divante.co B2B CUSTOMERS’ EXPECTATIONS IN 2015 Despite of the clear evidence that proves that customers prefer to search and purchase goods online, B2B companies are reluctant to develop themselves in the eCommerce field. Consequently, they lose the possibility to reach the customers and, what is even worse, they give the opportunity to other companies to fill in this gap. Therefore, let us define the expectations of B2B customers. New habits First of all, the Internet and technology play an important role in creating new habits. In accordance with the studies conducted by Google, 84% of respondents use the Internet to search for information about the products they want to buy. 54% compare the products online, while 37% of respondents claim that the reviews posted online have a significant impact on their purchasing decisions. It should come as no surprise - such a behavior allows the users to satisfy their needs straightaway and gives them the possibility to verify their knowledge.
  • 5. 5 www.divante.co It would be naive to think that the B2B sector customers do not act in the same way. After all, the Internet has been present in their everyday, private lives for many years now. They expect the same possibilities during the performance of their professional duties. Moreover, in accordance with the Intershop eCommerce 2012 report, the customers expect a coherent communication pattern in many channels. New technologies offer such a possibility, increasing the level of expectations at the same time. It has become a huge problem for many companies. Users not only expect similar experience as in the case of B2C (online stores), but also demand solutions adjusted to their mobile devices. In many cases, the bar needs to be raised two times in order to meet their needs. Over 62% of the sales performed by TIM electrical wholesaler (a detailed case study is presented in another part of the report) are generated by B2B eCommerce. Just a year after its platform was established, a roof racks manufacturer Thule processes 80% of its orders through its thuleconnect.com website. The list of examples may go on and on. B2B system is no longer an option to be considered, but rather becomes a necessity. B2C functionalities in B2B solutions B2B businesses borrow the functionalities of B2C. There are many reasons for that, but the most important one is related to the fact that the customers are used to typical B2C eCommerce businesses (Amazon, eBay).
  • 6. 6 Online product search and online transactions are conventionalized and the users expect certain solutions. Everyone knows that the cart can be found in the upper right corner of the browser. The list below presents other well-known B2C functionalities that need to be applied to B2B: • High quality photos of the product, taken from various perspectives, • Intelligent search engine with auto-suggest option, • Multi-level categories with multi-attribute filters, • Information on the product availability and delivery costs, • SMS / Mobile notifications, • LiveChat and other channels of contact. The elements mentioned above are merely a part of the whole. There are many many more. Most of them can be applied to B2B. However, B2B sales are much more complicated. A good eCommerce business needs to map a complex trading process. Without the use of appropriate functionalities, the entire platform would be useless. In his book titled “Effortless experience”, Matt Dixon presents the results of his long- term studies that show the method in which the character of interaction between the customers and companies change. More and more people start to choose self-service software (self-care) rather than direct contact with a living person. B2B platform fits this trend ideally. www.divante.co
  • 7. 7 Dedicated B2B functions In order to attract the users, the platform has to facilitate their professional obligations. Price is the first and most basic matter. Individual adjustment is a must. Does it make any sense to use an online solution if we cannot see the costs of our purchase in real time? If the customers are forced to calculate the price on their own, they will simply give up. They will write emails or make calls in order to have these calculations performed for them by the seller. That is why it is so important to pay much attention to the integration of ERP/CRM systems during an eCommerce implementation process. Such systems are used to store the negotiated discount conditions. What is more, the customers want to place their orders in a form and at a time that is convenient to them. Many users spend whole days on a site, for instance on a construction site. They often need to order the goods on an ongoing basis, when they run out of things they require for their work. If the supplier does not provide a mobile application or a responsive website, such a user will be discouraged. Good B2B platforms make it possible to save the cart contents or add products to the cart during the whole day, allowing to place an entire order at the end of the delivery window (e.g. at 3 pm). Such a solution saves the time of customers - knowing that the product they ordered will be delivered to the specified location on the next day. Many customers want to place their orders in the evening,in front of their computers, at home. During their working hours, they are not certain, so they perform other tasks to save time. In the afternoon, using their laptops or tablets, they look for information they need, compare products and consider other alternatives. No call center works for that long. A B2B system will satisfy such needs. There are several dozen of functionalities that can be used to map the complex purchase process in B2B eCommerce. It would take too much space to present them here. www.divante.co
  • 8. 8 The most common and typical B2B functionalities include: • List of contractors with verification, • Individual or collective negotiation of discounts / price lists, • Presentation of a product catalogue adapted to a large assortment and taking into account the users who know the assortment (for instance facilitating the product code search), • Wholesale ordering system with the use of advanced techniques, such as order files or offer creation, • Consultants who can accept the order on behalf of the customer by the phone / email / during a meeting, • Saving and sharing the cart contents, • Forms of payments that are typical for B2B (for instance trade credit). To conclude - in 2015, B2B customers learn quickly about the new technologies and expect solutions that can meet their expectations. They want to have the ability to order products at any time and by any channel - more and more often they choose eCommerce. www.divante.co
  • 9. 9 LEAN ANALYTICS IN B2B Lean analytics philosophy is based on a quick and iterative learning cycle. Learning process may be presented in the form of a following loop: creation -> measurement -> conclusion -> creation. Lean analytics method allows for the measurement of the progress made, encourages to ask simple, yet precise questions and to find the answers. It is often noted that the companies tend to get lost in the excess of information and data. In most cases, it would be more efficient to focus on one, most important factor, determine its reference value and try to achieve it. At the same time, to limit does not mean to lower the quality or costs. It is much easier to transpose the lean analytics philosophy to the actions performed by B2C companies. Does it mean that such an approach does not have make any sense in the case of B2B? Quite the contrary! The fundamental assumption telling us that all decisions should be made on the basis of the obtained data is applicable to all kinds of organizations. What we need to remember is that the observed factors and metrics, which differ from those that fit the B2C sector companies, need to be appropriately adjusted. Frequently, the methods of data acquisition have to be adjusted as well. The ultimate effect however – more knowledge that allows to make good decisions – is priceless. www.divante.co
  • 10. 10 The most important analytical factors in the company market (B2B) include: • Customers’ involvement Are the customers involved in the purchase process related to our product or service? Are they willing to talk? Do they communicate their feelings about our offer? Are they interested? Answers to those questions may give us an image of our future sales. Whether the customers use our product with visible involvement or not, should also be considered. How often do they do it? How much time has passed since the last time they used it? Can we transpose the use of our product to increase our efficiency? • Publishing the first versions of the product In the case of B2B companies, it is possible to monitor the interest (actual or declarative) in the first versions of the new products, test versions, proofs of concept or beta versions. This interest may not translate into actual revenue, but will allow for an estimation of the future sales revenue. • Product usability The product needs to be simple and easy to use for all interested users. The customers should not need any additional training to be able to use the offered product. • Costs of the integration process In the case of B2B sector, the integration process may turn out to be the most important cost generator. That is why a precise measurement of this factor is especially important. The following questions may be asked: How much does it cost us to provide a pre-sale service? How much does it cost us to provide a post- sale service? How much does it cost us to personalize the offer to adjust it to a specific customer? How much does it cost us to train the customers to use the product? How much does it cost us to provide support in case of any problems? www.divante.co
  • 11. 11 • Limitation of the scope of cooperation This aspect of customer support service is often neglected. Some customers cause more problems than profit – for instance by asking disproportionate amount of questions to the customer support employees. In order to scale the operation, we need to define a good and efficient method to gradually get rid of such customers. A good solution may be to divide the customers into segments and determine, in accordance with the Pareto principle, which 20% of them generate 80% of costs. • Obtaining feedback Another important aspect of B2B operations is to acquire the return information from the customers and partners of the company. Maintenance of appropriate relations with the customers may become one of the most efficient sources of new sales leads. Continuous acquisition of feedback makes it possible to modify and adjust the offered product to the market needs. Customers will be happy feeling that their opinion matters, while we will be able to create a more attractive product. It is a win-win situation. It is also a good idea to introduce the elementary assumptions of a well-performed analytics into our B2B system. Certainly, it will help us to draw valid conclusions and make right decisions in the future. The article was written on the basis of the book: Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster, written by: Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz www.divante.co
  • 12. 12 EMOTIONS AND SHOPPING LISTS A B2B online store will never replace a professional seller. Nevertheless, it should be designed in such a way to create a shopping experience, that is as close to the conversation with a good consultant as possible. That is why it is important to have an efficient search engine and appropriate navigation system. Spontaneous decisions and calculated budgets The obvious difference between B2B and B2C lies in the principles that govern the purchase process. In the case of the store – consumer relations, it is the buyer who decides about the transaction. As for the company – in company relations, the amount of decision-makers is usually higher. B2B does not give much space for spontaneous shopping, for rapid purchasing decisions dictated by the brand loyalty. Positive emotions are less important than the transparency of the ordering system and quality of the provided information about the product. Instead of their hearts, buyers follow a shopping list designed by their employers. It means that not all business solutions that generate online retail store profits will be equally efficient in the B2B sector. When the offer is presented, the emphasis should be put not on showing the most popular or fashionable products, but on making it possible to find the goods in a quick and easy manner. www.divante.co
  • 13. 13 Growing expectations of the customers Online shopping is easy, convenient and fast – it needs to be, in order to satisfy demanding consumers, who in turn will shift their expectations to B2B sales services. Easy search for relevant information on the Internet has already become a standard, therefore finding a product must not be troublesome. Even though every seller is aware of that fact, the “easy, convenient and fast” remains only a marketing slogan, instead of becoming a specific demand towards the sales system. Such demands may be determined on the basis of the best marketing practices. What should we demand of our search engine? The easiest method to determine the demands towards a search engine is to specify the things that should not be demanded from the customer – for instance the knowledge of a detailed catalogue name of the product, correct spelling of the phrase in the search box, knowledge of the orthography or foreign names. In other words – the search system needs to be fault-tolerant in terms of spelling. Regardless of the mistake made by the customer, the search results should present an appropriate offer. If the buyer does not know the catalogue name of the product, the search engine should have the possibility to find it by searching the data provided in the descriptive fields, checking various attributes – e.g. color, size, length, width. TIM’s customers are pleased with the search engine that allows them to review the offer by referring to the barcode or producer’s symbol. Such a solution saves their time, because regardless of the information possessed by the buyers, they are still able to find the products in the supplier’s system. www.divante.co
  • 14. 14 The list below presents questions that may be used to check whether the applied search system makes it easier for the customers to review the offer: • Is the customer able to find a product if he/she does not know its catalogue name? • Is the customer able to find the product if he/she knows its most important features – i.e. does the search engine support the so called “long tail” – queries such as “copper cable twin-lead”? • How does the search engine cope with typos and spelling mistakes? Getting to the point - Features of a good navigation system When making a regular purchase for a company in accordance with the detailed guidelines, the customer may be assisted by an efficient search engine. But when a product needs to be selected from a large product group, the customer will have to count on the navigation system. If we were to compare such search to a conversation with the seller: the customers do not need to precisely specify their expectations - to do so, they will have to know everything about the product. Instead, a qualified and experienced seller should ask the customer the basic yes- no questions. This way, the seller will be able to provide the customer with the best possible option. www.divante.co
  • 15. 15 The list below presents questions that may be used to check whether the applied navigation system serves its purpose: • Is the customer able to choose a product on the basis of important criteria (e.g. producer’s name)? • Are the important selection criteria (e.g. price) always well visible? • Will the customer obtain the same list of products when checking the same parameters – regardless of the chosen menu? A good filtering system, that does not confuse the customer That is why it is very important to apply the same product segmentation rules to the entire shopping system – i.e. if customers can make a choice with the use of an upper or side menu (usually located on the left side), then regardless whether they prefer to click in the upper or left section of the page,they should navigate within the same product groups. In the case of more advanced product information management systems, the most popular filters should be always visible. If most users check the producer – filter with producers should be located at the top. If they are interested in size – this filter should be in the top position. This way, the customers start to make their queries more precise, starting from the most important guidelines. If apart from the given criterion, the customers are provided with the amount of products that meet the specified requirement, they will see whether they have only 3 products to choose from, or whether they have for instance 200 options, forcing them to narrow their search by applying several more filters. www.divante.co
  • 16. 16 Information for the seller B2B search systems can help the seller as well. Implemented in internal systems, they make it possible to quickly find information about the offer, price, availability etc. The technology can assist the seller in checking the offer, i.e. in searching through databases that often contain several hundred thousand products. Due to such solutions, the seller has more time to talk with the customer. And even though the purchase process in B2B is associated with fewer emotions than spontaneous shopping in B2C, the H2H – human to human relation is still the most important one. The text was written by: Katarzyna Jeznach, FACT-Finder. www.divante.co
  • 17. 17 HOW TO IMPLEMENT B2B IN A LARGE TRADING ORGANIZATION TIM is a distributor of electro-technical products.The company is proud of the sales that it made through the Internet, in December 2014. 3 years ago, online sales were virtually absent in TIM. The interview was given by Artur Piekarczyk, Vice-President of TIM’s Management Board. eCommerce has been present at TIM for almost two years now and it turned out to be a huge success. B2B sector displays a considerable aversion and reluctance towards Internet sales. How did it happen that you chose to take such an intense direction towards the Internet? Indeed, during the last two years we have staked everything on eCommerce. The first thought about the Internet sales appeared already in 2006, when we decided to build a logistics center in Siechnice, near Wrocław, Poland. www.divante.co
  • 18. 18 President of TIM SA Management Board, Krzysztof Folta, developed a strategy that included the ability to serve our customers directly from this center, without the use of local warehouses. Back then, we didn’t think about eCommerce. It was rather a vision that needed couple of years to become a strategy for the entire TIM holding. Our adventure with the Internet sales began three years ago. We started with B2C sector and our BankKabli.pl portal. We bought shares of Marketeo.com company (currently Rotopino.pl) and learned how to achieve the professional level of customer service in B2B model, which has always been and will be dominant at our company. We managed to gather a group of eCommerce professionals and enthusiasts and we began the biggest transformation in the 25 years history of TIM SA – we developed and launched the TIM online store (www.tim.pl). Was it a success? This matter is always verified by time. Changes that take place in the widely perceived trading market are huge, it is difficult to follow the progress in this field. Companies such as Amazon.com show how the way in which the products and services are sold can be changed.It is crucial not to overlook this.Our president, Krzysztof Folta, has always been and still is the main driving force responsible for the introduction of this new model at TIM SA. It was him who noticed the need for change in the company, long before the market trends managed to reach us. He used to quote Peter Drucker’s words: “Demography and technology determine the strategies that will prevail in the future”. We simply followed this advice... Since July 2014, TIM SA has been a rightful member of the world of eCommerce- we do not use local warehouses anymore, we only maintain trading offices that help our customers to handle our trading platform and prepare the offers for key customers. A month earlier, we became a member of the Polish e-Chamber, which gathers companies operating in the Polish eCommerce sector. Success... I still wait for it, but for now, we focus on hard and arduous work that needs to be done to introduce the electro-technical industry into the world of the Internet. We are pioneers, so we hope that the success will become our ally. www.divante.co
  • 19. 19 From the perspective of time, what was the most difficult challenge on your way towards the online channel? Did the expected challenges prove to be the most difficult? We feel that we are creating this company from scratch. Every day brings new challenges, our plans that were developed a month ago, are already outdated. Each owner or employee of a startup company knows what I’m talking about. As for the challenges - certainly it is difficult to convince the employees to introduce new ideas, especially such radical ones. Moreover, our vision and strategy need to be legible to the Board of Directors and owners. We cannot begin without their support and - as you can see - the project is planned to last for many years. The capital that is required to introduce such changes is huge.For the last several years,TIM SA has spent almost 40 million zlotys to acquire the know-how and to modernize our IT and logistics systems. In fact, we had to create a completely new company, so we needed to have access to a considerable amount of financial means and we had to obtain the consent to use them. Today’s challenge is to meet our customers’ expectations. It has been our primary objective since the very beginning, but we did not anticipate such a huge interest in such a short time. Despite the fact that TIM SA has one of the best logistics systems in the industry, we constantly need to adjust ourselves to the increasing scale - we did not expect such intensity.It causes the necessity to accelerate the investments related to the development of our logistics center in Siechnice. To put it simply, time in eCommerce flies faster. You need to remember about that. The only thing we don’t have today is time to prepare ourselves for the rising wave of the interest in our services and products. Our slogan “TIMe is money!” has just taken on a new dimension. www.divante.co
  • 20. 20 Were you afraid that your relations with the market will deteriorate? How did you cope with this situation? The market is a difficult subject. All producers, wholesalers or other distributors want to increase their sales, but everybody wants stabilization and peace as well. The ideal is to earn a lot of money and have time for your family. And then you retire... eCommerce changes this idyll in a way that is uncontrollable from the perspective of traditional business models. Changes are quick and profound - they influence the distribution channels, levels of acceptable margins and profitability, you need to make strategic decisions that were not needed earlier. This causes aversion towards the pioneers. The fear of the uncertain future is so bad that many companies act even against themselves, trying to stop the inevitable. The leaders are left alone. Nobody wants to help. You need to have nerves out of steel and patience to go through this initial stage. The Internet cannot be stopped, you have to live with it. No one will escape it, but you will always find those who support the old, proven methods, who try to save their businesses by putting the cart before the horse. We were also afraid of our customers’ reactions. Actually, some of our old customers did not accept the new model and service methods. But the new ones - especially those operating in the area that are not directly related to our field - help us to achieve our assumed goals. Conclusion - you need to think about those who are ready. The rest will come back anyway, sooner or later. Generally speaking, it’s not easy, and you need to remember about this problem as well. www.divante.co
  • 21. 21 Is there anything you would have done differently, if you had the knowledge you have now? If so, what is it and why would you change it? Today we know much more, but still not enough to give any advice on how to perform such a process in a perfect way. If you want to begin the eCommerce adventure, you will certainly have to learn two strategies: proven method of the bottlenecks elimination and the method of successive approximation. If you think: “I have everything planned up”, “nothing will surprise me”, “I know everything, I’ve learned it already”, you are certainly off the track. The world of the Internet is no longer as predictable as the traditional trade model, there are no unambiguous rules and business schools that can teach you in this field. You need to have an open mind, flexibility and you have to be open to the things that are different, to large amounts of eager collaborators, large amounts of cash and huge amounts of work. Everyday work, like in the case of a startup - from night to night, nonstop. Transition from the classic model to eCommerce is a difficult task. Everyone who decides to pick up the gauntlet needs a lot of coherency, patience and a little bit of luck. From today’s perspective, I wouldn’t have changed anything, even though I would have made some strategic decisions much quicker if I had known things that I know now. However, I have no simple recipe for success. For sure, one needs to be determined to achieve the assumed goals and be conscious of numerous traps and troubles that lurk in the way. www.divante.co
  • 22. 22 HOW TO CHOOSE A B2B PLATFORM SOFTWARE? The choice of a shopping platform is a decision that is difficult to revoke in the future. Implementation of new technology is a time-consuming and expensive process. Especially if the selected platform needs to be adjusted to the specific business needs. Nevertheless, it is still cheaper than the change of the platform in the future. Evolution of needs Today’s market offers a whole variety of the Internet sales platforms. There are numerous licensing models and implementation scenarios. The choice of a proper software is crucial, because it influences not only the time and cost of implementation, but also determines the capability to develop the given platform in the future. Thefirststageof thesoftwareselectionprocessistodeterminethekeyrequirements. It is very important to specify detailed and precise functional and non-functional requirements. www.divante.co
  • 23. 23 www.divante.co To do so, you may ask yourself the following questions: • How will we use our administration panel? Do we have many products that we would like to edit simultaneously? • What options of discounts and promotions need to be available to make it possible for us to present our products in accordance with the business model? • Are our products unusual in some way (e.g. configurable, composed of numerous elements etc.)? • Do we need integrations (e.g. with the chosen accounting system)? • How will we deliver our products? Which freight forwarding agent will we use? How will we manage the payments? When determining the requirements, we will be able to answer the question: “Is there a software that meets all our requirements or will we have to introduce any dedicated changes?”. If the software will require some changes, it is important to answer the followingquestions:“Dowewanttointroducethesechangesonourownordowehave to employ programmers, graphic designers or a technical team? Will we outsource the introduction of changes, because we lack the internal competence to introduce them ourselves?”. Another key question is: “How much money are we willing to spend to start our platform and what perspectives for the development will appear (will we have to add some new functionalities, product types in a year or two years’ time)?”. Knowing the answers, we will be able to review the available platforms and make an appropriate decision. Apart from the specific software brands and available functionalities, eCommerce platforms may be divided into: 1. Dedicated platforms. 2. Boxed software: • Boxed proprietary software (purchased), • Boxed proprietary software (leased), • Boxed open source software.
  • 24. 24 Such a division is based on several key parameters: • Possibility (or lack of possibility) to introduce dedicated changes and functionalities available in the standard, • Method of settlement/payment, including implementation costs, • Licenses and openness to modifications. A choice that is ideal for a beginning enterprise may be ineffective in the case of a company that has been operating in the market for some time and is now looking for new development perspectives. All available options should be reviewed and the decision should not be made hastily. It is easy to make a cost-efficient choice, but it may limit the capabilities of our business. On the other hand, it is equally easy to choose software that offers many functions that we will not be able to use. Small companies and startups frequently choose boxed software – mainly due to the costs. Regardless of the form (software installed on a server or available as SaaS), such a decision is often justified. Costs are small and we get a possibility to verify our business model and to quickly start our platform. However, these advantages are accompanied by the drawbacks, which tend to appear very quickly, especially in the case of B2B platforms. They are related to the need of development, modification and integration of the given software with IT systems used in the company. Due to licensing reasons or because of the form of distribution (SaaS), proprietary software is very difficult to modify. In many cases, the user needs to commission the modifications to the producer, and some changes may not be possible at all. If we need to integrate our store with any existing system, such as ERP, CRM, WMS, we quickly reach the limit of our capabilities. In such a situation, the only choice is to replace the platform with a more flexible one. We will have two options left – boxed software with open source license or a dedicated platform. www.divante.co
  • 25. 25 Comparison of the available software
  • 26. 26 100% dedicated software myth One advantage of such an approach is the possibility of developing a platform that is perfectly adjusted to an IT environment that exists in the given company (for instance- easy integration with the accounting or warehouse systems). Sometimes, such an approach is the only one that is possible. If we want to apply an unusual business model (for example group shopping), we need to handle an atypical product (e.g. configurable or digital products) or we have to manage a complex purchase path, then our only way is to modify our software. However,dedicatedsoftwareimpliesresponsibility.Apartfromthecostandtimeaspect (developing software from scratch is usually very expensive and time-consuming), you will have to evaluate your ability to design and implement a system with competitive advantageous features. What if this process takes too much time? The existing applications are developed over many years. During that time, their creators make and eliminate hundreds of errors. We will have to design the entire system, develop documentation, perform programming works and tests (other producers spend several dozen of hours every month to test their software). We will not be able to count on the updates issued by the producer (we are the producer!). We will not get any additional functionalities, any potential issues will not be solved by free updates. The cost of a software modification and maintenance can be much higher than the cost of implementation of the first version. Advantage of open source solutions The market offers several good open source solutions, for instance Magento platform, which has gained much popularity. Due to its open source license, such software may be freely adjusted to its users’ needs.The users may modify only those mechanisms that should work in a dedicated manner, while the rest may operate without any changes. www.divante.co
  • 27. 27 www.divante.co You need to remember however, that if you decide to introduce any significant system modification on your own, you will probably lose the possibility of installing new updates published by the producer. If an update requires any base code modification, it is likely that you will have to compare and merge files manually. Development of the open source projects is also beneficial to the producers of commercial solutions. IBM, RedHat, Varien, Intel and others develop and support open source projects. On the one hand, big companies perceive such a model as an advertisement (open source solutions give them the possibility to reach more users, who will learn about the given solution and may need the commercial versions or support in the future). On the other hand, such an approach allows them to use the knowledge and experience of programmers or programming enthusiasts, who will deliver new modules or detect and eliminate any possible errors. Due to the high business safety,relatively low implementation costs and flexibility,open source software is an ideal choice for B2B platforms, allowing for the introduction of dedicated changes (like in the case of a platform developed from scratch), but without the loss of the producer’s support and updates. We stand on the shoulders of giants to create a solution adjusted to our business. Choosing a platform for medium and large companies In the case of the medium and large companies, we should answer one key question about the possibility of software development and maintenance. Companies that are just starting out may go for a ready-made platform that does not allow to change anything but the looks. In the course of time however, the company begins to develop itself andsoonerorlateritwillfacenewchallengesthatwillrequirecertainmodifications.
  • 28. 28 When it comes to the software development, the IT departments often need to cope with such problems as: • License that makes it impossible to introduce any changes. Developer licenses (with expanded scope, giving the possibility to develop the software on one’s own) are too expensive.Restrictivelicensesontheotherhand,disablethepossibilityof introducing any changes without the producer’s contribution. • Confusing code - introduction of changes is very time-consuming and programmers are afraid to modify anything. • No documentation - changes need to be introduced by trial and error, which may cause measurable losses in sales. • No support from the producer - when an error occurs, the programmers are on their own. There are cases in which the software of companies (even the big ones) needs to be migrated and “rewritten”. Drastic changes may be avoided by performing an appropriate pre-implementation analysis. It is just like in the case of marriage — you need to learn something about each other first. If not, the subsequent revolutions will bring about significant losses. First of all - license There are many types of software licenses. If our software was released in a subscription model (SaaS - Software as a Service), it will be practically impossible to introduce any changes. If our software works on our servers, we will need to carefully study its license. In the case of open source licenses, such as OSL, GPL, BSD, LGPL, we will be able to introduce modifications. www.divante.co
  • 29. 29 www.divante.co Open source software encourages the use of plugins. When using the plugins, it is necessary to check if and how we will be able to modify them. Plugins are often released under their own licenses, which can be different than the base software license. Open source licenses differ in details — including the models of distribution of the introduced changes. This model is very important. We will not be willing to share our source codes with other companies, when creating unique programming solutions that can be used as a competitive advantage. Some open source licenses are based on the following assumption: if our changes were introduced within the modules (plugins that do not alter the base code of the platform), then we can release them under any license (open source is not obligatory). In the case of the changes introduced in the base software, the license provisions may vary. Therefore, it may be a good idea to consult your choice with a lawyer, in order to avoid an improper interpretation. In the case of the commercial software, the situation is more complicated. We will have to learn whether the producer accepts the possibility to introduce our own changes. Will we have access to the source code at all? In most cases, the possibility of changing the code is guaranteed only after a special developer license is acquired. The price of such a license may be very high. Our implementation agreement should include a provision that would guarantee the transfer of copyright to all performed modifications and works. For instance, without the right to modify the graphic files of our store, the introduction of further changes may be as difficult as in the case of no access to the source codes.
  • 30. 30 www.divante.co Implementation portfolio In order to check whether the given platform is easy to develop and maintain, you may want to check its implementation portfolio. It is a good idea to verify whether the platform is being modified by its current users. You may ask them (for instance on an Internet forum) about the modification process, how it looked like and whether it was difficult. The amount of customers itself may tell us whether the software is good or not. An implementation portfolio and the amount of users are especially important in the case of open source software. Checking the amount of new stores and users, you will be able to evaluate whether the software is still being actively developed. Producer’s support Even if we use an open source platform, we often may be able to purchase the producer’s support. The fact that the authors of the given software offer such a service is a sign of professionalism. In crisis situations, the producer’s support may help us to quickly eliminate any possible errors. In the case of the proprietary platforms, such a support is very important. When a problem occurs, we will not be able to consult the community (for instance on an Internet forum). Stability of the producer is another important factor. If the producer is a small company, it may cease to develop the software or terminate its operation.
  • 31. 31 Documentation Documentation supports the programmers during the application development process. Technical documentation that describes the source code architecture, methods of adding modules and performing the most basic programming operations is a minimum. Documentation development is a relatively tedious and laborious process. In the case of the open source projects, it is frequently assumed that the source code documents itself. Documentation is ignored by the authors. Such an approach can be justified to some extent. This way, we do not have to face the descriptions that are outdated or misleading. However, in the case of a large-scale system, a documentation is a must. Without it, such actions like hiring and introducing a new programmer would take a disproportionate amount of time. Time that such a programmer would have to spend to learn the software by trial and error. In the case of dedicated software, before an agreement is signed, you should review the documentation attached to the developer license. Architecture The software architecture is of crucial importance in terms of the technical aspects. Before a specific platform may be chosen, the programmers should analyze its source code. The possibility to review the fragments of the code of a proprietary platform speaks well of its producer. The software should allow for the creation of plugins and work in the event model. www.divante.co
  • 32. 32 Such an architecture makes it possible to add new functionalities and to change the operation of the existing functionalities without the need to modify the base code. It is difficult to imagine a platform that does not support a template mechanism that can be used to modify the appearance without the need to change the code. Especially in the beginning, such modifications will be very frequent. The source code should be written with the use of design patterns as well. Not only do they increase the flexibility — their most basic function is to make the communication between the developers easier. The use of patterns enables better understanding of the way the code works. The application should be divided into layers. Minimum set includes: Model, View, Controller (MVC — a division commonly known as the pattern). The layers are separated, so the changes introduced in one layer do not cause any changes in other layers. Due to such a division, the introduction of changes, for instance in the database communication, does not influence the operation of the code responsible for the form logics. At least theoretically. The source code should be documented at least at a basic level (roles of classes and methods, obligatorily the types and meanings of the method arguments, especially in the case of script languages without strict standardization). Moreover, we should verify whether the code is written in accordance with the uniform coding standards. Are the variables named in accordance with the same pattern, are there any code fragments that are written in a different language (for instance Polish and English names). Such factors are not superficial. If the code is not ordered, the application will increase its entropy (chaos) much quicker, limiting the possibility of its development. If we want to create various language versions of our software, we should check whether the code was written with the use of such tools as gettext or in accordance with the internationalization standards. The matter also concerns the support of various cultural aspects (currencies, numerals and date formats). www.divante.co
  • 33. 33 The possibilities of embedment in the IT enviroment Sales platforms are usually “adapted” to an IT environment of the given company. In such cases, they need to be integrated with the existing systems that are used to support the sales. Standard integrations include ERP, CRM and WMS systems or PIM system, if it exists (or MDM – Master Data Management, a system used to gather and categorize product descriptions). Not all platforms are equally easy to integrate. You need to check the availability of programming interfaces and possibilities of data import/export. Considering the aspects that merge the functionalities with the source code, we need to verify whether the given application has a WebAPI (e.g. SOAP) or does it have an API at all. API is an Application Programming Interface that can be made available by adding libraries to the code or through the network (WebAPI) in the form of network services. API shares more complicated algorithms and allows the developers to automate their operations without the need to change the base code of their system. If data may be imported/exported through the API, then future integrations will be much easier. Certainly, the introduced changes will require many modifications in the database operations. You should make sure that the base structure is compatible with the market standards. Is the database normalized? Are the commonly known patterns applied? Does the base support the EAV model (Entity-Attribute-Value), which makes it possible to add the fields and attributes to all data models? Is the naming convention uniform? Did the authors think about the proper use of indexes and search mechanisms? www.divante.co
  • 34. 34 Automated tests Changing the code that we did not create ourselves is very stressful. With scarce documentation and no support from the authors, the stress is even greater. Automated unit tests constitute a great advantage in such a situation. In such a case, even if the source code requires refactoring (change of structure without the change of operation), the tests will make it possible to quickly detect any possible errors in the operation of the modified application. However, a situation when a large system is fully covered by unit tests is very rare. Open source software (like Prestashop or Magento) usually offer automated tests that cover only a small amount of modules. Therefore, the automated tests cannot be treated as a key factor during the software selection process, but we should appreciate them if they are available. It speaks well of the authors’ responsibility. History of changes If we take over an existing platform from another company, it is important to get all information about the changes introduced during the entire development process. If a revision control system and ticket system (such as Redmine) were applied, the task will be simple. In most cases, these systems contain key information about the changes introduced in the system. However,ifthecontractordidnotactinaccordancewiththegoodsoftwaredevelopment practice, the takeover may be difficult. We can compare this situation to a construction site, where the contractor forgot to mark the location of the electrical wiring in the walls of a building. You may drill, but it is risky. It may turn out that many algorithms work completely different than it was described in the documentation. In such a case, we have to ask for an update of the project and documentation. www.divante.co
  • 35. 35 www.divante.co MARKETING AUTOMATION IN B2B. 5 WAYS TO ACQUIRE A BUSINESS CUSTOMER Contact forms, landing pages, lead nurturing, lead routing, contact scoring and alerts efficiently support the work of sales departments in business to business relations. We may use the available mechanisms to optimize and automate the entire process from establishing the contact to acquiring the customer. Change in the purchase process 50% of B2B buyers begin their purchases by browsing for offers online. Direct phone contact with the company is now the 4th most popular way to make the first contact and to begin a B2B purchase process. Moreover, such an online search is performed by as much as 90% of all buyers. It means that the majority of purchasers moved online. It also means that the purchase and sales processes, which used to be performed in parallel, became separated.
  • 36. 36 The purchase process is a set of actions that need to be performed in order to buy something. Analogically speaking, the sales process is a set of actions performed in order to sell something. If the first contact with the company is made by phone or during a visit in the office, then these processes begin at the same moment. Today, the sales process begins at the moment when roughly 70% of the purchase process is complete when the customer had already performed an online search and gathered a sufficient amount of information to be ready to make direct contact with the given company. Conclusion: the companies lose control over the buyers. Study of the customers’ interests In such a situation, the primary objective of all companies should be to ensure the highest possible probability of being chosen by the customer. Appropriate marketing automation processes can help to achieve that goal. Such systems allow for the identification and monitoring of people and companies that visit our website. This functionality informs us about the interest of our potential customers already at the beginning of the purchase process. We do not only know about the customers’ interest, but also about the subject of their interest. Each action performed by a person or company in practically every marketing channel is monitored and helps to create a behavioral profile of the subject, which in turn allows us to adapt our marketing operations in order to provide all customers with information they specifically need at that given moment. This way, we may lead our customers straight to the purchase. Ok, but what exactly should we do? The further part of this article presents 5 ideas that may help you to acquire a B2B customer. www.divante.co
  • 37. 37 www.divante.co Inbound Marketing – attracting and acquiring the customers with the content If customers begin their purchases with an online search, then the online contents can be used to attract them. A company’s blog is a perfect way to encourage the customers to visit the company’s website. Interesting articles about the industry, giving advice, presenting good practices or report analyses attract the customers who look for specific information in their browsers. After we catch their attention, it is time for a certain bargain. Here we may use some simple elements, such as eBooks or our originally developed reports. When a user wants to download our own work, we should allow it, but only after the user gives us an email address. Simple barter – cool and valuable work in exchange for contact data. Sharing the contents completely “for free” makes us lose the potential customers and new sources of income. Lead nurturing – prepare the customer to make a purchase Do you think that our new contact, who has just downloaded our eBook or other reports, is ready to make a purchase and contact our sales department? In 80% of cases, the answer is no. Identification and monitoring of contacts will make it possible to point out these 20% of those who are ready to buy. What about the rest? These people are still performing the first 70% of their purchase processes and need more information before they can be contacted directly. Lead nurturing is a solution for this problem. SALESmanago Marketing Automation allows for the performance of educational operations that will prepare our potential customers to make a decision on the purchase.
  • 38. 38 Lead nurturing involves providing the customer with educational messages to: • Present the company and its operations; • Describe the key features of the offered product; • Show the values associated with the purchase; • Present the ways the product can be used and its potential results; • Provide other information necessary to make a purchase. Educating the contacts and delivering them to the sales department only after they received an appropriate batch of information from the company, makes them more eager to buy. Moreover, our sellers will work with people whose needs are already known to the company and who possess the necessary amount of knowledge. Companies that use lead nurturing methods increase their sales conversion rate by 50% on average. Lead routing – contacts flow management So, we managed to acquire and prepare our customer to contact our sellers. The first direct contact with an employee usually sets the direction of further talks and strongly conditions the “sales winning” probability. Therefore, we should deliver the contact to an appropriate person. If we have several services or product segments in our offer and employ specialized traders, or if we have several customer segments, then regardless of the given customer’s interests or group, the contact may be automatically delivered to an appropriate seller. This way, from the very beginning, the customer will be confronted with a person that is most competent in the given situation and the whole sales process will be performed much smoother and quicker and is more likely to be successful. www.divante.co
  • 39. 39 www.divante.co Contact scoring – prioritization of potential customers Each company that possesses a CRM system and operates in the B2B sector uses various mechanisms to determine the priority of contacts and to match their potential customers with the company’s offer. Frequently, such an evaluation is based on the position and decisiveness of the acquired contact, size of the company, turnover, potential budget and several other factors. SALESmanago adds another element that was not available earlier – involvement. The customer’s involvement is measured with the use of contact scoring. Each activity of potential customers causes an attribution of the specified amount of points. Adding such a parameter to the evaluation of the given customer’s potential may completely alter the priority of this contact. If a large company with a big budget does not react at all and is not active, its priority is reduced. On the other hand, a smaller company, which has a theoretically lower priority, but responds actively and visits our website to look for information turns out to be a very important potential customer that is more likely to sign an agreement with us. Moreover, the complete image of the given company’s purchasing interests will help us to manage our sales representatives. Each business trip costs money, so the ability to send the representatives only to those more perspective customers will entirely change the efficiency of the sales, their cost and performed goals.
  • 40. 40 Automated sales alerts Identification and monitoring of the contacts’ behavior allows for one more neat operation. If we precisely monitor the activity on our website and in other marketing channels, we may automatically inform our sellers that their potential customer has just: • Viewed the price list, • Received an email offer, • Exceeded a certain threshold of scoring points, • Downloaded a material from the website, • Moved on to the next stage of our sales campaign or is very active at the current stage, • Attended an online meeting, • Behaved in another way that is important from the sales perspective. Summary These elementary actions can be performed by any B2B company to bring about measurable benefits. Obviously, the methods presented above are just a fraction of all capabilities of the marketing automation systems. Nevertheless, even those basic actions will help any company to generate more potential customers and more potential customers that are ready to buy. The company will start to sell more and due to the introduced automation and better use of the sales department’s potential, it will be able to optimize the sales costs and obtain substantial savings. www.divante.co
  • 41. 41 www.divante.co Contact Want to talk about B2B? Contact us! Tomasz Karwatka CEO tkarwatka@divante.co Ernest Trochimczuk CSO etrochimczuk@divante.co Marta Miszczak Sales Manager mmiszczak@divante.co Krzysztof Podeszwa Sales Manager kpodeszwa@divante.co
  • 42. 42 Divante LTD 14 Kosciuszki Street 50-038 Wroclaw, Poland sales@divante.co (+48) 797 340 458 www.divante.co