The Power Of Customer Collaboration In B2B eCommerce

When manufacturers embark on a B2B eCommerce project, they’re entering a complex, multi-party negotiation. Different stakeholders from sales, customer service, marketing and IT will have different interests — that is, different drivers behind the positions they take on B2B eCommerce.  

It’s easy to let internal concerns alone shape the project. Yet organizational stakeholders aren’t the only parties to the negotiation. If you focus only on internal concerns, you’ll leave out the other major party in the room — your customers.  

How do you include your customers as you negotiate the shape of your B2B eCommerce project?

How to give customers a seat at the table

It’s not enough to conduct an online survey with customers before embarking on the project. Doing a few phone interviews won’t cut it, either.

Until your customers react to live, working software, they won’t actually know what they need in B2B eCommerce — and neither will you.

The key is to involve customers in your B2B eCommerce project before GoLive. Show them the working solution, integrated to your SAP system in real time, and ask them a single pointed question: “Why can’t we put this software into production today?”

We use this methodology on every Corevist project. We ask that question, take feedback, make changes, then ask it again. This process drives the shape of every Corevist implementation, and it bakes in your customers’ real needs from the start.

The challenge: Letting customers be honest

This transparency can be uncomfortable. When you ask customers for feedback, they will provide it. Sometimes, their feedback will expose new issues in the business that you didn’t know you had.

But this feedback is essential. It’s as close to real life as we can get before GoLive, and your B2B eCommerce project isn’t complete without it.

Not convinced? Here are a few reasons to allow customers to give feedback in the project phase.

1. Customers see your business through their own lens

When an organization puts together a B2B eCommerce project, certain internal voices rise to prominence. It could be the business leader who’s championing the project. Maybe the head of IT has strong opinions on the ideal architecture or your senior customer service rep has a vision for self-service account management.

Each of these perspectives is a critical piece of the puzzle. But they all share a weakness, too: they come from within the organization. Whether your internal stakeholders realize it or not, they can only see things through the lens of life at your company.

Your customers will see things through different lenses — and you shouldn’t shy away from hearing these perspectives. You should seek them out, analyze them and incorporate them as appropriate. This is what the Corevist methodology facilitates.

2. Customers help you get better at serving them

Customers know what value you provide. That means they also know what causes friction in doing business with you.

When you give them a voice, they can highlight issues in customer experience that you didn’t know you had. Many of these issues — things like frustrating manual ordering processes or unreliable order status information — can be addressed in your B2B eCommerce project. When you incorporate these perspectives into the project, you ultimately get better at serving customers.

3. Customers bring balance to B2B eCommerce projects

B2B eCommerce is for your customers. Ultimately, it needs to serve their needs.

Yet B2B eCommerce also has to work for your organization. If the solution is too cumbersome or too disruptive to established business processes, it will cause unnecessary headaches for your internal stakeholders.

The key is to craft a balanced B2B eCommerce project that serves the interests of all parties involved. You can achieve this balance with a methodology that incorporates customer feedback on working software (and helps you understand how to prioritize it). This is what we practice here at Corevist.

Moving forward: FREE case study

Want to see Corevist’s collaborative methodology in action? Download this case study on LORD Corporation. You’ll learn how this leading manufacturer launched Corevist Commerce with customer feedback incorporated — all without missing a single milestone. The best part? LORD Corporation grew digital revenue 41.5%.

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FREE Case study: LORD Corporation

Learn how LORD launched ecommerce that reflects their SAP system in real time.
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About Author

George Anderson

George serves as Digital Marketing Manager. A blogger and journalist with a passion for B2B ecommerce, he has written for the Magento blog, Digitalcommerce360, Supply & Demand Chain Executive, ERPgenie, and others.