Building a B2B practice
Tina has over twenty years’ experience focused on empowering B2B companies with great tools to achieve strong results. At Optimizely, she works closely with product, marketing and sales teams to share the value and latest developments within Opt’s B2B Commerce Cloud to 9,000+ client brands.
As the world continues shifting to digital-first, the importance of commerce continues to grow, specifically within the B2B industry. In 2021, online sales on B2B ecommerce sites, login portals and marketplaces increased 17.8% to $1.63 trillion. B2B ecommerce in 2021 grew 1.17 times faster than all U.S. manufacturing and distributor sales. When it comes to investing in a growing practice – this is it.
There are four key areas to focus on to ensure you’re building a successful B2B practice:
- Knowledge of the B2B industry
- Partner commitment
- Building the right team
- Learn and apply the technology
Let’s dive in and explore each area.
Knowledge of the B2B industry
The basis of a good B2B practice starts with understanding the business – including the pain points and challenges that the industry is facing. Do your research, connect with the organization to listen and learn how they work today. It’s important to have a solid understanding of customers, use cases and platform value. In addition to the business challenges, make sure you also understand the technical ecosystem that surrounds the B2B industry. At minimum, integration points with enterprise resource platforms (ERP) and CRMs are necessary knowledge.
It's important to connect the problem B2B manufacturers and distributors face with the technology. It may not be just a commerce platform that is needed, but also a Product Information Management (PIM) tool to store the product data or a punchout tool to connect the ecommerce site via e-procurement systems.
As with any partnership, knowing both sides are invested drives results. It’s important to have leadership who are committed to the manufacturing and distribution industry and display that as part of their focus and growth verticals.
If leadership is committed, the marketing focus is the next step. Actively investing in marketing and thought leadership will help drive leads and partnering with Optimizely on the marketing also creates credibility and awareness in the market.
As a partner, it’s all about the services you can provide to your customers. Keep up to date on Optimizely roadmaps to allow you to be the best consultant to your customers by keeping them informed. As you gain confidence in the B2B Commerce Cloud platform, you can consider service expansion into adjacent tools such as product information management, mobile apps, punchout solutions, etc.
Identify the team
What kind of a team do you need to be successful? That’s a great question on which we’ll give a perspective. The team will flex depending on what phase of the project you are embarking on, but all of the roles will play a part. Typical roles include:
- Solution Architect: A technical resource with a solid understanding of the B2B challenges, technical integrations and the Optimizely B2B platform. This role ensures the solution is generated in a responsible, scalable manner and guides the developers through implementation.
- Back-end Developer: This role is responsible for the configuration and coding needed during the implementation.
- Front-end Developer: Responsible for the translation of designs into code as well as any client-side functionality, implementing the face and related interactions of the website.
- User Experience Architect/Designer: Responsible for creation of the navigation and design of the site.
- Strategy: Responsible for understanding business challenges and translating those into actionable tasks within the Opti B2B platform. Provides guidance on the overall solution and implementation from a high level.
- Quality Assurance: Responsible for testing features and functionality throughout implementation.
- Project Manager: Responsible for managing milestones, timeline and cost.
- Account Manager: Focused on customer success and ensuring the team has what they need to execute the project.
Learn and apply the technology
Now that you’ve got an understanding of the business and the necessary resources, let’s review what it takes to apply that to a technology solution. It’s important to have a deep understanding of the tool to ensure it is properly implemented to solve the business challenges.
Optimizely B2B Commerce is a solution tailor-made for B2B and its complexities. Optimizely’s platform offers a prescriptive approach with existing features/functionality to help organizations reduce time to market in building their ecommerce solution. It has the most out-of-the-box features than any of its competitors. B2B Commerce Cloud is configurable to meet your design standards, extensible to scale to grow with a business, and is built with a deep integration architecture that seamlessly connects to your ERP, PIM and other backend systems.
With the existing out-of-the-box functionality provided by B2B Commerce, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the details to effectively educate your client on their options. Optimizely will partner with you on your first implementation to provide insight and guidance to ensure success for you and your customers. It’s a team effort!
Optimizely offers training courses for different audiences such as developers, administrators and customer service reps through our Academy. We recommend certifying your engineers through the available B2B Commerce Cloud developer certifications.
Other important resources for your reference:
- B2B User Guides
- B2B Developer Guide
- High-Level Implementation Timeline
- B2B Commerce Glossary
Optimizely offers supplementary products that further expand the reach and value you can drive for customers:
Native mobile app: Automatically builds an experience based on the existing B2B Commerce Cloud instance. Soon, a mobile SDK will be available to allow customizations to be available in the mobile app. Optimizely manages the app in Google Play and IOS stores.
Vendor Managed Inventory: Using the Optimizely B2B Mobile App, buyers can scan barcodes in their stockroom, trucks or on-site bins and enter the current inventory. Auto-order will then suggest a replenishment order based on a product’s defined minimums and maximum. This is a native part of the mobile app included with that product offering at no additional cost.
PIM: Natively built to integrate with Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud, Optimizely PIM allows small teams to quickly setup their catalog and product data requirements and provides functionality to efficiently manage the data acquisition and curation process.
B2B Analytics: This powerful tool for measuring and monitoring the success of your B2B ecommerce solution provides a set of dashboards to give you a deeper look into your site, using data from your ERP (online and offline sales), Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.
Optimizely Data Platform: Optimizely Data Platform is the multidimensional customer data platform (CDP). Optimizely Data Platform is the only customer data platform that unifies customer data with contextual business data for real-time omnichannel activation. Marketing teams can finally harmonize all their customer data, understand the present business opportunity, and immediately act within one pane of glass.
Product Recommendations: Shoppers connecting with you digitally are telling you what they want, but are you listening? Optimizely understands visitors’ behavior and actions and presents exactly the right products along the customer journey. Optimizely Product Recommendations is part of Optimizely Intelligence Cloud, a suite of intelligent omnichannel solutions for commerce, content and search personalization.
Web Experimentation: Optimizely Web is the world’s fastest website A/B testing solution, enabling marketers, growth teams and product managers to increase CRO, revenue and engagement. Fast implementation, an easy-to-use visual editor, and one-click integrations mean your entire organization can run experiments without requiring developer resources. Make data-informed decisions for your business with the help of our world-class Stats Engine.