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How to Avoid the Toughest B2B Ecommerce Challenges

How to Avoid the Toughest B2B Ecommerce Challenges

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.

 

Final Thoughts:

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.

Redstage Welcomes Hasan Elkomey As SVP, Strategic Partnerships

Redstage Welcomes Hasan Elkomey As SVP, Strategic Partnerships

Redstage welcomes Hasan Elkomey

Hasan Elkomey Takes Helm of Redstage’s Partner Channel

Redstage is pleased to announce the latest addition to our team and new SVP of Strategic Partnerships, Hasan Elkomey. As the former VP of Digital Transformation and Strategy at Damco, Hasan will drive Redstage’s partnership initiatives, leveraging his 15 years of insight to drive growth. Hasan’s experience working with complex organizations will help maximize value for clients as well as industry partners. Furthermore, the new SVP aims to accelerate company revenue by enhancing organizational efficiency and shepherding in the next wave of customer experiences.

About Hasan

Apart from Redstage, Hasan serves on Rutgers University’s board for the Center of Innovation — Design Thinking as the program’s Chairman. Over the years, Hasan has become known as an industry thought leader for his work fostering relationships with some of the world’s most recognized brands. He regularly speaks at digital industry events around the United States.

Read the full press release on PRlog.com.

What technology will have the biggest impact on marketing in 2018?

What technology will have the biggest impact on marketing in 2018?

What technology will have the biggest impact on marketing in 2018?

Everyone’s asking, “What technology will have the biggest impact on marketing in 2018?” Will it be the illustrious AI, the illuminating abilities of augmented reality, 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:

Marketing Tech in 2018

What technology will have the biggest impact on marketing in 2018?

As we await the true advent of AI, AR, VR and Mixed Reality in the mainstream, contemporary digital advertising is rolling over and dying, with search, social and display ads experiencing a gradual decline in usefulness. Gen-Y and Gen-Z hate ads, and while pervasive multichannel messaging was previously a working strategy, ads are ignored now more than ever… and expansive ad campaigns are annoying customers, damaging brands.

The savior in this scenario was and still is video, which many companies lack the capability or know-how to properly leverage. Many still refuse any attempt to enter the video realm, despite annual marketing reports for the past decade marking video as the most effective channel for sales and brand engagement. Right now, the benefits of video seem to be buffering (pun intended), with numbers stagnating as users look for something new.

As a natural side-effect of the decline in channel efficiency, marketers have turned to big data as the new god to drive vertical engagement. However, many retail marketers lack the experience and/or artificial intelligence applications necessary to make sense of this wealth of data.

Getting a Grip on AI

What technology will have the biggest impact on marketing in 2018?
This past year, we’ve seen the launch of some incredible remarketing software in ecommerce, like HiConversion and Rejoiner. Programs so powerful they can replace entire marketing teams that would typically manage the breadth of digital messaging (emails, ads, social, tracking, analytics, etc).

However… because these systems and the technology are so new, we’re combining the adoption curve with a learning curve. While marketers get a grip on machine learning Saas, I expect their true potential will be neither realized, nor their full impact felt in the market this year.

To make matters worse, today’s AI market focuses exclusively on predictive AI, which all-too-soon will be replaced with cognitive AI (Rajesh Sinha, Fulcrum Digital‘s CEO, predicts in the next two years). There’s a chance the change-over could immediately render predictive systems obsolete. On the other hand, retailers and brands can’t sit around waiting for cognitive AI, and those that do could see big-time losses (Hence the dilemma). Overall, what most of the martech world considers “AI” will soon be baked into every major software system available. What matters is how you use them.

Playing the Waiting Game & Winning

What technology will have the biggest impact on marketing in 2018?
For now, we have to keep milking the avenues we have available. Optimize performance as much as possible with regard to channel strategy and be diligent. With the current pace of innovation, you might not get a second chance.

Now is the time for companies to start looking into how AR, AI, VR, IoT and other emerging tech can reshape business alongside other digital transformation strategies. While the long-term strategy teams focus on how they will deliver value in 2020 and beyond (when these technologies are expected to have much wider reach), it’s time to bring our websites into the new age. Maximize your site and sales funnels with every possible upgrade, build out content and bulk-up ad spend while we get over this hump. Rethink your strategy for the next four years and think seriously about how you plan to invest all the new martech. If you haven’t already made significant investments in your mobile customer experience, that’s a good place to start.

Some companies will spend a little more on ads to wait this out. Others will buy into expensive (soon-to-be outdated) platforms they’ll be stuck with long after the competition moves on. Unfortunately, the largest group will likely be those who sit on their hands and refuse to innovate. These will be the losers. Instead, find out how much budget you can pack into the time between now and 2020. Focus on your omnichannel experience and unifying your brand strategies with supportive AI products you can afford (for the short term). In addition, bulk up your ad spend, get some videos or podcasts going, and settle in for the long hibernation period ahead.

Final Thoughts

So let’s review. What technology will have the biggest impact on marketing in 2018? You, the human, which should be an empowering, albeit intimidating challenge for marketers. Lastly, remember, there’s no need to be discouraged. Plateaus are part of every high-growth process…

We just happen to be crossing the Rubicon.