Sam Bayer


Setting Goals for B2B eCommerce

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of kicking off an SAP® Integrated B2B eCommerce project for our newest client.  (They’re staying anonymous for now since they don’t want to tip off their competitors).  This isn’t going to be one of our simpler projects for several reasons, not the least of which is that they are in a regulated industry and we’ll have to validate our work (yet again) against FDA 21 CFR Part 11.  Yet I’m really confident that this project will be one of our best.  Why?  Because they’ve been thinking and planning for this project for the better part of a year.

I was quite impressed by the level of due diligence that they performed before they finally agreed to fund this project.  To be sure they looked in all of the “obvious” places as they evaluated us:

  • Did our solution have all of the features they needed to be successful?
  • Did we have the requisite SAP® knowledge to assist them on the project?
  • Would we minimize the impact on their SAP® team or burden them with additional work that they weren’t staffed to perform?
  • How extensible was our solution?
  • What could they expect from us once they got into production?
  • Did our contract protect their interests as well as ours?

But I was most impressed with the one question that they asked, and the manner in which they answered it.

If we build it, would our customers actually come?

The way they answered the question?  They asked their customers directly.  Imagine that!  While we’ve been counseling all of our prospective clients to do this for the past 6 years, these folks were the first to actually conduct a survey.  They surveyed about 3% of their 3500 customers and presented the results to their Executive Committee with the following presentation:

What were the key takeaways?

  1. 54.3% of their customers said they would definitely use the website.
  2. 22.4% would seriously consider using the website under certain conditions (off hours, during busy times, etc.)
  3. 23.3% said they doubted they would ever use the website (poor internet connectivity, prefer the “human touch” etc.)

Based on this data, our Client put together a marketing plan (see the presentation for details) to make sure that the folks that said they were going to come to the website, would indeed come to the website.

Now that’s what I call leadership!

I know these folks are going to be successful.  They have:

  • Executive Sponsorship – the President of this division is visible and engaged
  • a clear customer oriented goal (number of customers using the website in year one, two and three)
  • a committed cross functional team
  • a dedicated Project Manager
  • and a great attitude that honors the iterative and evolutionary nature of these projects

Oh yeah, and they have us on their team :-).