Effective change management for B2B companies demands close attention to operational requirements, capabilities, and challenges. Continuing our investigative approach to ecommerce, the Redstage team regularly meets with B2B executives to discuss the challenges inherent in driving change on a massive scale. In this interview, we speak with a marketing specialist responsible for guiding multiple B2B companies through the ecommerce transformation process.
In the Q&A that follows, we explore learnings from the cultural, technological, and organizational hurdles he’s faced to help others understand the procedures that drive successful transformations. As he notes, leading digital change is no easy feat. As you will learn, the outcome is entirely dependent on forming a united front within your organization.
Q1: What have been your biggest digital transformation challenges in the past year?
“It’s tough to find the right partners that can communicate what you’re planning and bring your vision to reality.”
A: That depends on your perspective. Mindset and process change are the biggest part, because going digital is very different if your company hasn’t adopted digital already. Internally, trying to take people-oriented processes and digitize them for an ecommerce experience means creating new roles and departments; making people at all levels take on new responsibilities, and combating a lot of kicking and screaming on whether or not this is a good direction for the company.
Externally, it’s tough to find the right partners that can articulate what you’re planning and bring your vision to reality. It’s usually hard getting them to understand your business and how to get you to where you want to go.
Q2: What has been your biggest challenge with regard to ecommerce?
“If the data isn’t already in your ERP, you have to change the way you do business in order to make it all fit.”
A: Ecommerce is such a big universe. There are so many moving parts involved in making a B2B ecommerce experience a reality. With many SKUs, our focus was putting a PIM (product information management system) in place to create a more robust, data-driven experience for the end user. If your company is not data-driven already, restructuring your company for ecommerce is a tremendous undertaking. All of your info needs to be there. If the data isn’t already in your ERP, you have to change the way you do business in order to make it all fit… and if you don’t, you end up attempting all kinds of customizations that will ultimately lead to failure.
Q3: What are some solutions you would recommend that allowed you to solve past challenges?
“More or less, the ecommerce initiative needs to be driven from the top down.”
A: More or less, an ecommerce initiative needs to be driven from the top down. If you don’t have the backing of the executive group and the resources and patience to do this — that’s the challenge.
Q4: What are your biggest fears and challenges about digital transformation in the year ahead and why?
“Executive management needs patience.”
A: There are so many obstacles along the way and pressures to quickly launch – but do not launch a site until it’s ready. Set the right expectations with executive management and allow yourself extra time on your roll-out plan for unforeseen circumstances. Ecommerce implementations can fail if you don’t have everything working in sync, but I’d also recommend you get the entire roadmap planned out and not just pieces of it.
“Some system integrators we’ve worked with, the big guns come into the office, they’re very knowledgeable, and then you don’t see them again…”
I had yet to come across a partner that says “Okay, you’re looking at Magento and here’s the 10 things you should worry about…” No questions about the quality of data you have, where you’re going to house product images, your plans internationally, or how you’re going to implement tokenization to meet privacy laws.
Some system integrators we’ve worked with, the big guns come into the office, they’re very knowledgeable, and then you don’t see them again… or the people hired for your initiative start working on another project, and you need to reach them but can’t. Delay, delay, delay, delay.
Q5: If you could give one piece of advice to B2B business owners, what would it be?
“You’re going to need to solve an awful lot of problems along the way, and you need to make sure you have the right people.”
A: Be a problem solver. You’re going to need to solve an awful lot of problems along the way, and you need to make sure you have the right people involved in your project. Lastly, don’t announce to the world what you’re doing until you’re ready, so there are no expectations. When the expectations are set, make sure you’ve given all parties involved an accurate and well-informed scope of what’s coming, and be investigative with your partners.
At Redstage, our engineers are dedicated to helping B2B companies understand the full extent of their needs, challenges and obstacles. Download our B2B Power Index for Manufacturing, Wholesale & Distribution for a better understanding of your current tech stack, and the technologies that can help you become a true digital leader.
Despite changing customer habits across the commerce industry, sales strategies have largely remained static. That is, until now. With a noticeable rise in account based marketing adoption and “hyper-personalization” software that utilizes machine learning, today’s sales teams are better equipped than ever to engage prospects across digital platforms; new territory for B2B companies. Here are the top 5 ways sales teams are taking advantage of new tech.
5. Stepping Up the Mobile Game
In a recent article, Genius Ecommerce notes “91 percent of B2B buyers complete searches using mobile devices and one in four buyers makes a purchase using a mobile device.” With millennials making up more than 35% of the US workforce, there’s an industry-wide push to create simple, elegant, and frictionless online experiences that cater to the generation’s habits and expectations. To do this, sales teams must begin thinking like millennials and driving engagement through smartphones, their device of choice.
For millennials, a downloadable product list doesn’t go a long way, especially on a phone. It’s too time consuming, and millennials know there’s a high probability another company (i.e. your competitor) will have a simpler online experience that shortens their workday and makes their lives easier.
4. Increasing Repeat Purchases
Redstage CEO Adam Morris notes, “Modern B2B sales teams have begun tracking online customer behavior to predict when customers will need to reorder. These teams can use the same tech to order on behalf of customers and even set up automatic subscription reordering.”
These options remove strain from the customer’s decision to buy and encourage repeat purchases. Send a simple reminder to customers recommending they buy again or to buy a related product and watch AOV increase along with order frequency. Imagine what this does for sales commissions.
3. New Ways To Interact & Engage
With all these new modes of selling, teams need to broaden their reach to maximize sales opportunities. Tackling this challenge is easy with the right toolset. Chatbots act as an extension of the sales person, becoming the first-line of defense for customer assistance. Through chatbots, sales reps can help users find a product they might’ve missed, share in-depth details to make a sale, and further engage prospects in real time.
Like chatbots, social media is another tool that extends the sales team’s skillset and enhances reach. DemandGen’s 2018 B2B Buyer’s Survey reports that 34% of B2B buyers are spending more time on social media to research vendors. 52% say they use social media to drive purchasing decisions, and 82% of B2B buyers say the winning vendor’s social media content has a significant impact on their decision to buy. Using social media is much friendlier than cold-calling and helps create a community around your products. Sharing is caring!
2. The Power of Feedback
Customer reviews drive sales. End of story. In G2 Crowd’s 2018 B2B Sales & Marketing Report, 92.4% of consumers said they were more likely to buy a product or service if they were able to read reviews (5.5% were unsure, and only 2.1% said no). The reason? There’s a ceiling on how much buyers trust brands, which makes them trust customers more than the vendors themselves. According to Mashable, “Millennials, in particular, trust user-generated content 50% more than other media.”
Reviews also help sales teams identify specific product attributes consumers love. These attributes can then be highlighted, promoted, and shared with prospects who may be interested in the same products to facilitate additional orders. Positive reviews typically decrease cart abandonment, increase time spent viewing products, and of course, increase sales by helping buyers get honest, trustworthy feedback.
1. Becoming a Customer Experience Expert
A 2017 Walker study concluded that “Customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020,” beating out the traditional “4 P’s” of the marketing mix. As a result, it’s now up to sales teams to lock-on to customer preferences to maximize reach and engagement. Personalization platforms like Bronto help sales and marketing teams understand the preferred devices and channels each customer uses. When it’s time for a customized message, you’ll know how to get their attention.
If you ran a shoe store and a customer came to the register, only to cancel or return their order, you would want to learn why. In the digital world, if customers put an item in their cart but later remove it, it only follows that sales teams should investigate. Maybe a confusing or lackluster product description made them hesitate, perhaps it was a question of quality, source, or price. For B2B’s, fitment is a big factor, and finding replacement parts should be easy for customers. This is the time to send targeted messaging to help narrow down customer “unknowns” and increase the likelihood of a sale.
Using customer, cart, and product data, sales teams can now identify trends faster and easier than ever, pinpoint bottlenecks in the purchasing process, and refine experiences to increase sales and customer satisfaction. For more tips and tricks B2B sales teams can use, find our free Digital Sales Engagement Handbook here, and let us know if you’re interested in enhancing your sales team with Bronto.
On June 14th during Adobe’s first earnings call since the announcement of the Magento acquisition, the company reported, “The addition of Magento Commerce will enable commerce to be seamlessly integrated into Adobe Experience Cloud, delivering a single platform that serves both B2B and B2C customers globally while providing the flexibility to scale to serve mid-market and large enterprise customers.” No clear details of the software giant’s Magento roadmap were divulged on the call in June, setting off alarm bells across the world of internet retail… This week, we received some much needed clarity.
Back when the acquisition first occurred, we learned more about how “Adobe Magento” (Now Commerce Cloud) will create a premiere eCommerce experience for customers. Various Adobe and Magento execs have since shed light on how we can expect the Magento-verse to fold into the new cloud offering.
Adobe: Reimagining Experience Driven Commerce
The addition of Magento to the Experience Cloud portfolio creates a comprehensive suite of integrated tech to help merchants maximize their commerce capabilities. On the other side of this coin, current Magento customers gain the added advantage of real-time personalization and optimization from Adobe Sensei (the AI behind Adobe’s “intelligent experiences”). Altogether, this makes one compelling opportunity for Adobe Commerce users to upgrade to the new Magento Commerce stack.
Now, online retailers will be able to leverage the combined power of Magento BI and Adobe Analytics as an industry leading data tool, giving them unique insight into customer buying habits. With both Magento BI and Adobe Analytics pumping data to store owners, merchants can monitor exactly what’s happening with their products online and act quickly to get a leg up on competition.
“Consumers expect every interaction with a brand to be contextual, intuitive and meaningful, but companies have struggled to consistently deliver personalized experiences across the myriad of touchpoints. The innovations we are bringing to market enable companies of all sizes and across industries to make every experience shoppable.”Mark Lavelle, senior vice president of commerce, Adobe and former CEO of Magento
Adobe Cloud, Magento Managed Services Offering
Adobe’s Director of Commerce Program and Strategy, Errol Denger, explains “We’ve taken care of that primary integration between Experience Cloud and Magento.” Customers can now acquire the combined offering of Magento and Adobe Experience Cloud as a managed service. The bundle is integrated with Magento, I/O Runtime for experience extensibility and integration, Target Premium, Analytics Foundation, and 90 hours of engineering service.
“We’re excited to see Adobe integrate world class ecommerce into their suite of high-end experience platforms. Adobe Commerce Cloud will undoubtedly offer incredibly advanced B2B features backed by the firepower of best in class user experience tools.”Adam Morris, CEO, Redstage
The platform is built on top of Magento’s robust cloud ecommerce platform, with direct links to all of Adobe’s powerful marketing and experience tools. “For Adobe, that’s really important because it actually closes the last mile in its Experience offering,” Jason Woosley, Adobe’s VP of commerce product and platform (and Magento’s former VP of product and technology) told Tech Crunch. “It’s no mystery that they’ve been looking at commerce offerings in the past. We’re just super glad that they settled on us.”
Delivering Best In Class Omnichannel Commerce
“Adobe and Magento provide and integrated omnichannel platform to meet every commerce requirement, unlike competitive platforms that limit control and flexibility. We believe there’s a better way…” Denger says, “the combined solution of Adobe and Magento will help merchants create a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”
Some merchants already working with the combined power of both platforms include: LD Products, Harbor Freight and Abbott Labs. And don’t worry, your Magento 2 extensions will still work on Adobe’s Commerce Cloud. However, if you’re on Magento 1, we recommend you take a look at this.
“It is easier to invent the future than it is to predict it.”
This variation of a quote by computer scientist Alan Kay was the last line of a 1994 job listing written by Jeff Bezos, and still holds true to this day. While Redstage’s team of forward thinkers possess a knack for accurate predictions, we’ve also helped shape the future of ecommerce through our mobile research initiatives.
Throughout 2018, our team made strides to advance the cause of B2B ecommerce, offering insight into new technology, mobile commerce, and the millennial customer experience. We remain dedicated to helping clients and readers alike stay informed of emerging trends and the strategies you can use to master them. With this said, here are the top insights and articles of the past year:
“B2B ecommerce has several types of customers, each with their individual requirements for how they define their success. These customer types include B2B consumers (the company plans to resell the product or service to them). Other customer types include wholesalers/distributors who will sell your products and services to other B2B companies and dealers who sometimes resell the company’s product for them. Knowing your customers, here’s a few things to consider when selecting the best e-commerce platform for your online store.” — Read More
“Will it be the illustrious AI, the illuminating abilities of augmented reality, delivery drones, or perhaps… chatbots? With the emergence of all this new tech, marketers are left to base their budget allocation for 2018 on speculation. As a result, I am inclined to believe that without a doubt, 2018 will be somewhat of a plateau for marketing; defined by a knowledge-gap surrounding new avenues for advertising and the deteriorating value of current methods. Here’s why…” — Read More
“At this very moment, it’s likely that retail executives around the US are screaming about their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales performance. For some, these sounds resemble a triumphant war chant. For others, these are the shrill cries of defeat. The reason? Mobile-first adoption. No matter where you stand, this data changes the ecommerce landscape. Here are the latest stats and key trends from the long-weekend of holiday sales events.” — Read More
“The development of AI and Big data, in recent years, has given online retailers both opportunities and challenges. In the next decade, digital stores will be equipped more optimized tools based on AI, and through this, they are empowered to strengthen customer relationship and enhance customer retention. This is a technology competition and I believe that the one who wins the game will also win the customer’s heart.” –Read More
“Today, a single blogger has the same opportunity to get a million comments on a post as Walmart does. A mom and pop online store has the same chance of winning over customers as Amazon. Time, resources and budget notwithstanding, the Internet provides a fair medium for all business to compete, and we owe the state of our world to this universal marketplace of ideas… With the Net Neutrality repeal in effect, major changes are coming that will affect every businesses, especially in the world of advertising and ecommerce.” — Read More
Top Case Study of The Year!
Check out our most viewed case study of the year: White Mountain Footwear. If this were a blog post, it would hold the #3 spot above!
Top Download of The Year!
Take a look at our Digital Sales Engagement Ebook, our most viewed downloadable of 2018! Discover all the tools you can use to optimize your digital sales team and top tactics to revolutionize your digital acquisition strategy.
Can’t find info on a specific topic? Send us a message and we’ll help you find it, or we’ll add it to our content schedule! Our team of researchers and thought leaders are always looking for ways to best serve our readers. Visit our blog page to subscribe!
Earlier this year, Clutch.co awarded Redstage with the titles of Top Ecommerce Developers, Top Magento Developers, and Top Shopify Developers in New York. Yesterday, Clutch.co announced Redstage’s as a Global Leader in B2B Business Services for 2018.
In the few short months since the last announcement, the hard work and determination of our teams around the world have earned us the title of “Top Global B2B Company for 2018” and we thank our clients for all of their support. Redstage is now a Clutch Global Leader, part of the Clutch Global 1000, and ranks number 2 for Top B2B Magento developers and designers in the world.
This announcement comes soon after Redstage was ranked among the Top Ten Best Ecommerce Web Design Companies by WebDesignRankings.com for the second consecutive year. Additionally, the agency has also been listed on Clutch’s sister site, The Manifest, as a Top Magento Company of 2018!
Our team is thrilled to wrap up the year with these distinguished accolades. We look forward to continuing our strong B2B practice in the year ahead! Thanks again to our clients and partners for your collaboration, trust, and positive reviews. These awards would not be possible without you. It is a pleasure and an honor to share in your success.
A well curated eCommerce email list can provide your online store with recurring revenue and provide you with a strong competitive advantage. Realizing that value, however, is highly dependent on how you use it, and a variety of factors that can make or break your bottom line. In 2016, the average open rate across industries was 25% of recipients. If you can reach that number or improve upon it, you’ll see incredible benefits. But how can you get there?
Email marketers employ many useful strategies, such as email verifier tools, list segmentation, performance tracking, and critical CX details Redstage covered in last week’s webinar with dotmailer (video). However, there are four specific types of eCommerce emails that can lead to high conversion rates and drive repeat customers. Implementing each of these is a low-cost investment that, when done correctly, can lead to an extremely high return.
1. Ecommerce Email Up-Selling & Cross-Selling
These types of emails are among the most lucrative in the world of eCommerce email marketing. This becomes clear when you compare the average 25% open rate to the 61.7% seen in post-purchase emails. These can be sent out in a variety of ways, but the following are two of the most common:
Follow-up with receipt: include a discount or exclusive offer with post-order receipt or other custom transactional emails, incentivizing repeat purchases and customer referrals.
Follow-up with similar items: when a customer purchases an item in a given category or collection, you can send a follow-up email promoting related items (think of Amazon’s “frequently bought together” up-sell strategy).
2. Loyalty Programming
Building a relationship with your customer is extremely important to the long-term value of that customer, and email marketing is a great way to overcome this issue. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
“We’ve Missed You”: If a customer hasn’t returned to your store in a while, send them an email that includes a promo code and an easy way to opt out of future communications.
Personalized Life Events: Many businesses collect information about customers in order to provide them with personalized service. Consider sending a birthday email, along with a discount eligible for that week or month.
Restocking: If your business sells replenishables (like air filters, motor oil, and engine belts), launching automated emails at certain intervals can help keep your brand top of mind when supplies need to be replenished. How long does it take your average customer to go through a gallon of cleaning liquid?
3. Incentives and Promotions
Letting your customers know about a sale or limited-time offer is a tried and true method for driving traffic. Whether you’re offering holiday deals, announcing a new product line, or sharing an exclusive offer, customers are much more likely to be interested if they’re getting a unique product or price. These kinds of emails become critical for B2B buyers, who are always looking for easier ways to find the best product and price. Promotional campaigns like these are often extremely successful. In fact, according to Coteries Lab, “44% of people who received targeted emails acknowledged buying at least one item because of promotional message.” Emails advertising a discounted price have a conversion rate of over 1%, and a 9.68% click-to-conversion rate.
4. Win-Back Campaigns for Abandoned Carts
Customers will often be interested in an item, add it to their cart, and then fail to complete the purchase. This lost revenue can be reclaimed simply by reaching out through abandoned cart emails. Something as simple as “Hey, you forgot!” or “Check out now for 5% off your entire order!” can help turn abandoned carts into solid sales. As you might expect, these are among the most efficient emails in terms of conversion, especially when combined with discounts.
While email marketing platforms can help you target any segment of your customer base, these are some of the most common ways marketers use email to reach out. Each option offers a great starting point for strong B2B eCommerce email marketing campaigns. These four methods can have a quick, significant effect on your overall sales. Having trouble with your email marketing? Need a recommendation on what platform is best for you? Ask the experts at Redstage!
About Our Guest Author:
Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.