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Strategic Planning for B2B Ecommerce

With the end of 2016, many B2B businesses are reviewing this year’s ecommerce operation and preparation for next year.

All too often, B2B ecommerce growth is short sighted. Businesses frequently ask,”I’ve prerequisites to perform X. What’s the best solution?”

In actuality, they may discover the optimal solution for X, but six months or a year later, if there’s a new set of requirements, that solution might not be the best fit. If you look past your present needs to your long-term plan, you’ll make better choices.

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Quick Start: 1-hour Strategic Plan

Here’s a fast exercise as a starting point for your strategic planning.

Set aside an hour to visit a coffee shop or elsewhere, where you could focus without interruptions. Bring paper, a pencil, and a copy of your mission, vision, and business objectives. In case you’ve got a defined brand and unique selling proposition, bring those too.

First, review your institution’s mission, vision, goals, manufacturer, and unique selling proposition.

Answer these questions.

  • How will my company use the internet to obtain a market advantage?
  • What expertise can we create online for our clients that Amazon can’t match?
  • What tools can we provide that will make our clients’ lives easier?
  • What site features and tools will be important to mobile users?
  • What metrics will define success for our ecommerce website?

Ideally, you have a team which may consider and work through these questions together and work together with the direction of your company to obtain approval. However, if your organization isn’t contemplating these questions now, your time in asking them will help plan for expansion.

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Next Step: Prioritize

As soon as you’ve got the answers to these questions, take time to reflect. Choose strategies that you think will make the maximum impact. Many times these approaches are associated with market opportunities, overall business priorities, or pain points.

If you are not sure which approaches will make the maximum impact, get feedback from other people. Approach trusted partners and look at what others in your industry do .

Enhancing your site rate, mobile experience, and quality of search results are common priorities for serious gamers in the ecommerce area. Consider adding these to your plans, if they’re not.

Constructing a Longer Term Outlook

Together with your priorities in hand, create a vision for what your ecommerce website will look like in three decades.

  • Will your present software platform let you meet these goals?
  • What development is going to be required?
  • What are the choices for third party add-ons to the applications you have?

Typically there are a number of paths you could take. Potential software packages will probably offer various features and have different costs. 1 solution may cost less in the first year, but more over time.

Consider assembling a cost comparison that seems six decades out. While technology is continually changing, a comparison based on assumptions and present licensing can continue to be helpful.

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1 solution may cost less in the first year, but more over time.

By way of instance, I recently developed a six-year cost comparison for a business that revealed solution A had a lower first-year cost, but over six years solution B was approximately 30-percent less. Solution B has a more robust feature set, meaning there will be fewer customizations necessary to accomplish the corporation’s goals and, additionally, the development costs are reduced — the structure of solution B enables upgrades to cost less.

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Licensing structures may vary. Some licenses cost the exact same each year. Others are greater up-front with a percent in subsequent years. Others are based on earnings and will increase as your website succeeds. Consider the way the license structure will impact the long-term costs.

Hosting, support, and maintenance costs are also a consideration and might be added into your own comparison. If you’re using a SaaS cart, you will benefit from no hosting costs, however, based on the solution, you might experience trade-offs in different areas.

One Company’s Journey

A few years back, I met with a business that had specific goals for a site redesign, to boost its ecommerce purposes and its content. The site was a key part of the business’s overall business strategy. The team understood this was the first of several stages and they wanted to take an incremental approach.

We provided two solutions. One met their immediate needs at a lower cost, and another was originally more expensive but had a higher ability to scale. They chose to go with the lower cost choice with the understanding that the firm would probably outgrow it in a couple of years. The team wanted to take it one step at a time.

Since that time, they’ve approved additional jobs and customizations on the reduced cost version. With every new project, the cost to move into the higher-end alternative gets more expensive, since the transfer will involve recoding what they’ve already paid for. A number of the staff’s requests would be a lot simpler to implement from the higher-end alternative. However, the switching costs are high — versus remaining on the current platform — even though the long-term costs are reduced. Recently a company executive told me,”I wish we’d gone [the higher-end option] in the first place.”

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The secret is to create an informed option. Many companies ignore their entire plan and don’t plan for long term costs. Learn your priorities and estimate your long term costs. It helps create a more successful B2B ecommerce strategy.

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