Categories: Founder's Blog


Sam Bayer


How to make the digital shift

I was in Holland last week kicking off our latest SAP Integrated B2B eCommerce project. We were there to replace a legacy SAP Web Channel Experience Management (WCEM) website.  I was blown away to learn that in the two years that our client’s business was on SAP WCEM they were able to accomplish the following:

  • 65% of total order volume transitioned online
  • 72% of all order lines entered online
  • 90% of all website users are regular users
  • 45% reduction in returns processing
  • 31% increase in average order line
  • 25% increase in average order value
  • 100% reduction of faxes – sent the fax machine to the junkyard

They accomplished all that without Corevist!  How could that be???? :-)  

Today I’ll share with you what I learned from these Dutch B2B eCommerce superstars.  It’s a great template for success, which will only be improved upon when they go live with their brand spanking new Magento-Corevist-SAP Integrated B2B eCommerce website in 90 days!

Here are their 5 secrets to success:

  1. Live in a digital economy
    It can’t be an uphill battle to recruit users to your website when you live in the #1 ranked country for connectivity in the 2017 Digital Economy and Society Index.  Whenever I hear about governments dragging their heels about supporting the creation of a digital infrastructure I just want to send them an 8 track cassette. Unfortunately, all the world can’t live in Holland.
  2. Have digital oriented customers
    This client is a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Their customers are veterinarians.  Veterinarians are well educated and computer literate.  When you combine that fact with the fact that they live in the #1 ranked digital economy in Europe, your odds of adoption just went up.  I contrast that with some of our other client’s customers around the world who repair chainsaws, pluck eyebrows and muck stalls. You get the picture. The success of your B2B eCommerce website is ultimately limited by “genetic” factors of the country/state/city that your customers work in and the industry that you serve.  Not much you can really do about that other than to be lucky.
  3. Build your website for your customers…not for you
    This learning was a real eye opener for me.  No one is a bigger customer focused advocate than me. Unfortunately, as much as I try and influence all of our clients to be customer focused, at the end of the day, they all lapse back into their “we we we” perspective. We need to sell them more. We can’t share our availability data with them. We don’t want to share credit limit data online. We know what our customers want and need.  What I heard a lot of in Holland was “our customers”.  Our customers would benefit from buying syringes at the same time they buy vaccines.  Our customers need to know if they can get product from us, and if not, we need to help them source it elsewhere. Our customers want to have their accounts current with us and being transparent about their credit status with them is in their best interest.  I left that workshop feeling like I had finally found my community.  There was no need to proselytize the importance of customer advocacy. I was home among my people.
  4. Passionately pursue a measurable goal organizationally
    A B2B eCommerce project is a team sport. It’s not an IT project. It’s not a Marketing project. It’s not a Sales Operation project. It requires everyone to commit to it and work together to make it succeed.  Success, by the way, needs to be explicitly defined, tracked and pursued…from the Top down! This 60 person subsidiary of this mega-Pharmaceutical company behaved like as cohesive and entrepreneurial team as I have ever seen. They all understood the business they were in, their metrics of success and were passionate and devoted to their business.  I must say that that too was a refreshing sight for me.  More often than not we fight our way across the finish line and the IT Project Manager (aka B2B eCommerce Manager) is dragging everyone across. This client’s Dutch B2B eCommerce website is a business asset that they know has a major impact on the relationship they have with their customer.  That’s exactly the way it should be!
  5. Never stop looking for ways to improve
    After only two short years in production, they’re ready for a new B2B eCommerce platform. In part because SAP WCEM pulled the rug out from underneath them and in part because there was a backlog of functionality that was difficult to develop on the platform. Some of the features that they will enjoy with their new webshop are: the introduction of customer loyalty programs, cross-selling and upselling capabilities (especially when triggered by out of inventory of certain skus), display of scaled pricing and expiration dates, multiple saved carts and wish lists, new payment methods like SEPA and support for multiple roles at customer sites.

While achieving 65% revenue from a B2B webshop is the high water mark for me, after having spent a couple of days with this team, I’m not really surprised by their accomplishments.  While we all may not be able to choose where we live, nor may we easily choose the markets that we serve, we can certainly all adopt the collaborative, goal oriented, customer-centric and continuous improvement approach followed by this team.

So maybe you won’t get to 65%. But how would your business change if you could get to 20%? 30%? 40%?

I know the answer to that.

A lot!



P.S. – Happy 4th of July weekend to those of you in the US and Happy July 3rd to our Belarusian colleagues.