Stephanie Pike, Vice President, Digital and Channel Sales at Ricoh Americas Corporation, and I recently did a webinar with Internet Retailer that you can still listen to on demand. Stephanie provided fantastic insight on the transformation that is happening at Ricoh. Her insight is always strategic and tactical.
The business case is a critical part of running an eCommerce program. While, I have provided some basics to include in the business case, Stephanie addressed the roles or departments that the business case should consider.
Roles to Consider in Your B2B E-Commerce Business Case
eCommerce is many times a digital footprint more than selling things online. If it was as simple as launching an online checkout system or putting products up online, then more companies would be doing it. Part of an eCommerce program is how figuring out how digital fits into the company ecosystem.
Stephanie addressed 6 key departments and roles.
We have to start with our sales team. In most cases, reps call on global and vertical accounts. Companies fear that digital will take all of those relationships away. However, there will always be a need for human interaction inside large accounts. eCommerce and digital should complement the efforts of the account executive.
Inside Sales Reps
Inside sales transact a lot of the orders. How will digital complement the personal touches of picking up the phone, answering an email, or chatting online.
Research and Content
A business case will include all kinds of content. What kind of research and content do your customers need? Of course, we can start with product content – specifications, images, and descriptions. Equally important is learning content like how-to, video, multimedia, diagrams, and attachments.
Social and Mobile
Social in B2B is focused on LinkedIN and extending reach. Businesses are networks. How do you tap into networks of the individuals in your organizations and customers. Think about tapping into smaller community sites. A good example is Toms Hardware, a social and review site for technical products. Funnel your social traffic back into your sites and micro sites. Mobile browsing is becoming more and more important.
Your supply chain plays a big role in the digital experience. How robust is your supply chain? Customers need to understand availability, in stock, when their products will ship. Make sure your supply chain is predictable. Buyers are held accountable for these decisions. Giving them predictable supply chain information helps them be more effective in their job. If your supply chain is not predictable, do you outsource or make it more robust?
eBusiness is responsible for direct online sales. Inside sales often is responsible for these types of orders. Pure eBusiness brings up channel conflict. How do you balance what you sell direct, through sales reps, and channel partners.
Holistic View of the Customer
At the heart of any B2B initiative is the customer. Understand who your customers are by building personas or through journey mapping. How do they buy? What are their jobs? What tools do they need to make their job easier?
Building a business case is critical to internal communication and prioritizing initiatives inside of your eCommerce program. More than just an ROI, make sure that your business case communicates how digital fits into your organizations ecosystem.