Helping your customers transition to ecommerce
As you build your B2B ecommerce rollout plan, it’s crucial that you don’t stop at technology. There is no ecommerce business without a platform, and yet, the business is so much more than the platform. It affects your customers’ lives directly—and the lives of your internal stakeholders, too.
A smart ecommerce launch includes a clear plan for onboarding and training your ecommerce users, both external (customers) and internal (Sales, CSRs, etc.). A smart plan gives each kind of user the information they need to succeed and doesn’t overwhelm them with information that’s not relevant to their job. In addition to creating this documentation, you need to craft a communication plan around the launch that reminds users of the launch date, invites them to any training sessions, and points them toward documentation.
Here’s what that looks like in detail.
Crafting a communications plan
“Build it and they’ll come” is not true in B2B ecommerce. To realize the many benefits that ecommerce can provide—increased market share, customer retention, and internal efficiency—you must tell your customers and internal users about ecommerce, plus incentivize them to use it.
The first step is building your user list (or lists). You might break users into two groups if necessary—e.g., customers and internal users. From there, depending on your requirements, you can break them out even further: customers by region, internal users by role (Sales, CSR, etc.), or whatever is relevant to your business. This is important if you want to send different messages to different groups. For example, if you’re piloting ecommerce to one group of customers first, then all customers at a later date, you need to define two separate lists of customers who will get different messages.
Once you have your user lists, it’s time to determine how you’ll incentivize them to use ecommerce. We’ve covered ecommerce adoption strategies elsewhere. In a nutshell, you need to define these strategies first, then present them clearly and consistently to the appropriate user segments through a good communications plan.
Here are all the points your communications plan must cover:
- Focus group dates and incentives for invited customers—You need direct feedback from your customers throughout the project. That’s why we conduct a series of targeted focus groups with your customers, so we tailor the software to work for them. It’s crucial that you get a representative sample of your customers to participate. To do this, your communications plan must put the focus groups (and incentives to attend) front and center.
- Go-live date—When is it? Are you onboarding different groups at different times? If so, you must personalize this part of the message for different segments.
- Changes to the go-live date—This is especially critical. If your go-live date changes for any reason, you need to let the affected user segments know when the new date is.
- Post-launch support—Where do your customers go if they need help with the ecommerce site? Making this crystal clear will build trust in your customers and help ease any tension over the switch to ecommerce.
- Training sessions—If you’re holding training sessions to demonstrate how your existing business processes translate to ecommerce, you should promote these sessions heavily, like you did with the focus groups.
- Training documentation—Provide links to evergreen training documentation for customers who can’t attend focus groups or training sessions (and for anyone who needs a refresher).
Clearly, a lot of your communications will be dedicated to promoting training. Now it’s time to look at that training.
Training your customers
At this stage in the game, most of your B2B customers are already using Amazon and similar ecommerce sites in their personal lives. Still, they may need help understanding how your legacy purchasing processes translate in your new ecommerce interface.
Here are business processes which typically need to be defined for your ecommerce customers.
- How to update your browser. Some customers may be on deprecated browsers like Internet Explorer, or old versions of other browsers (Firefox, Chrome). Give them documentation on how to update their browser so the site runs smoothly.
- How to log on and change your password. This is a crucial first step for users to be able to use the ecommerce site.
- How to add the right product to the cart. This includes catalog search, product comparison, and ordering by SKU. Most users will understand this intuitively, but it doesn’t hurt to spell it out.
- How to modify the cart before checkout. This includes quantity modification, pricing scales, RDD (if applicable), ship-from warehouse selection (if applicable), etc.
- How to fix order errors. The Corevist application is built to be 100% self-service for your customers. That means it won’t post orders with errors to SAP. Rather, Corevist displays error messages instructing the user on how to fix their order before submitting. It’s worth defining those messages for your users and how to fix them, since they are unique to your business rules.
- How to pay invoices by credit card. If you’re starting to take credit/debit cards through ecommerce, you should define that process for your customers.
- How to track orders. This empowers your customers to get order status updates on their own, without calling Customer Service.
Training your internal users
For your internal users, you can use the same documentation you crafted for your customers. However, depending on your business processes, you may need to provide additional documentation that’s only relevant to your internal users. Here are some example processes that may require documentation and training:
- How to set up user profiles. If you protect account setup so that only real customers can sign up, you need to define that process for the internal team members who are responsible for it. This is typically Sales or Customer Service.
- How to select between multiple sold-tos. If your Sales team is using ecommerce to place orders on behalf of multiple customers, you need to train them on that process before your full launch so it’s easy for them to start serving customers right away.
- How to use ecommerce on in-person Sales calls. If your Sales team will be using ecommerce in the field, e.g. on a mobile device, you should craft training and documentation oriented around that purpose.
Moving forward: FREE case study
Curious how a strong ecommerce rollout plan affects a complex organization? Download this FREE case study on PARI Respiratory. You’ll learn how the company rolled out ecommerce that made life easier for everyone—internal employees and customers.