B2B e-commerce technology evolves at break-neck speed. It isn't uncommon for suppliers to switch e-commerce platforms every 3-5 years. Making the switch can produce better buyer experiences, but the actual implementation of the switch itself comes with many challenges. Tips from a pre-conference workshop at B2B Next 2019, sponsored by Salesforce.com Inc., were discussed by suppliers and Salesforce reps to find the best practices for implementing smoothly. The following points were reported by digitalcommerce360.com.
- Ask customers what features they want during the planning stage. For example, if buyers expect live chat, make sure the new platform supports it.
- What are the success metrics for the new platform? This could be increasing the flow of orders per month by a predetermined amount or how easily clients can be on-boarded.
- Don’t attempt to reinvent the wheel. Buyers should evaluate each out-of-the-box features that comes with a new e-commerce platform and deploy only those features needed to deliver the desired user experience. What suppliers must remember when implementing a new e-commerce system is that overlaying the old platform onto the new one can produce the same pain points that prompted the decision to replace the old platform in the first place.
- Choose a platform that has flexible architecture and can support open API’s, or application programming interfaces that enable different software applications to automatically share data.
- Don’t over customize the new platform. While customization can provide a more personalized buyer experience, not every buyer wants the same experience. An e-commerce platform heavily influenced by a handful of large buyers can put off smaller buyers, resulting in lost business. Too much customization can also slow performance. Be sure the systems integrator understands your performance expectations prior to implementing new customizations.
- Test the new platform before on-boarding all clients. Meeting the needs of the biggest customers is a must for suppliers, but so is meeting the needs of smaller clients. Put the new platform through its paces by onboarding two to three large buyers and the same number of small buyers. Be sure to select buyers that have an open mind and will provide honest, in-depth feedback on how the platform performs, and how performance can be improved.
- Be prepared that some buyers may try to walk away after the new platform is implemented, because they like things to stay the same. If this happens, offer incentives to those buyers for using the new platform, such as discounts for purchases, or educate them on the efficiencies they can gain when ordering through the new system, such as more transparency regarding orders.