At the time of writing, the UK is under its third lockdown stint, where ‘non-essential’ businesses have to close shop yet again. One thing is clear though, regardless of whether your business is classed as essential or non-essential. The increasing number of both consumers and businesses online means there are higher expectations to meet and competition to beat.
If your business relies on commerce, that means you need to work towards achieving digital maturity. Simply moving your business online isn’t enough because everyone else is doing it too. Here’s how to ensure you’re always one step ahead of the changing marketplace.
- Know where your business is right now
- Use what you have to pivot on demand
- Know where the industry is heading (customers and competitors)
- Never overlook the importance of change management
Know where your business is right now
Before you start any kind of improvement project or strategy execution, you should know where your business is right now. Technology can help your business survive unpredictable events (such as pandemic-induced lockdowns and social distancing for the foreseeable) but it’s not just about adopting technology and hoping for the best.
Nor should you assume that just because your business has digitalised, you’ll survive or even thrive during these unprecedented times.
You need to have adopted the right solutions for your unique business processes and situation. Technology shouldn’t be seen as the prescriptive answer to business challenges. Instead, it should complement your existing processes and solutions and help you get to where you need to be. That starts with knowing where your business is right now, from current processes and solutions to challenges and goals.
Use what you have to pivot on demand
Of all the things the commerce industry has seen in 2020, one key thing is that it’s really highlighted the businesses who have not only survived but thrived during this time. It’s all good and well having your next quarter, six or even 12 months planned out. But as we now know, it only takes one incident to potentially blast all of your well-laid plans into oblivion.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t plan ahead - definitely still do that. However, you should also focus on your ability to react quickly and pivot your business strategy or even model on demand. That requires:
- Knowing your business processes
- Having access to the right tools, solutions and technical capacity
- Strategic leadership (this could be within your organisation itself, working with software partners and other external consultants or both)
Know where the industry is heading
In addition to the above, you should also know where the industry is headed. Take your customer expectations, for instance.
Product trends come and go but one thing that’s constant is an excellent customer experience. Your customers want you to provide them with a consistently great experience and that includes meeting and even anticipating their needs, wherever possible.
At the moment, the majority of customers (B2C and B2B) either buy or inform their buying decisions on information that they obtain via digital channels. People crave convenience - they want to research options and make decisions while on-the-go. As browser-enabled devices like smartphones become more advanced and popular and e-commerce booms, there’s only one way this trend is going. Up.
However, as we mentioned in our introduction, it’s not just about having a website. For example, Arcadia Group brands are digitally enabled and trading online. Yet, they collapsed into administration in November 2020. Putting the scandals surrounding Philip Green, Arcadia’s Chairman, aside, this downfall was likely to do with the group’s slow approach to prioritising online customer and user experience.
Here are some elements that make a successful e-commerce website and help increase the time your online visitors spend browsing (which can lead to high conversion rates and basket value):
- Simple, clear navigational menus
- No clutter
- Clear, accurate product information
- Personalised recommendations
- Special treatment for returning customers
- Optimised for a variety of devices
Never overlook the importance of change management
Digital transformation, innovation and maturity projects are often always easier said than done. Aside from your search to find the right solutions and technology for the business, you must also work to minimise internal friction as much as possible. This is where effective change management comes in.
Don’t let the tools you’re investing in and the work you’re doing in the digital space go to waste. Make sure your team, the people who will be using these new/updated tools, are bought into the idea before it’s rolled out. That could include:
- Bringing a few of your end users into the initial planning meetings so they have a chance to voice their opinions and share ideas
- Tying the overall project goals with your end users’ goals so there’s shared accountability
- Keeping them in the loop at every step of the journey
Empower your people to understand these tools and take advantage of them. So, if something happens, it’s all hands on deck and it’s much easier to pivot.
Is your B2B e-commerce strategy primed to help you meet your digital maturity goals?
The rise of e-commerce over in-store purchases have led to many organisations who use commerce to rethink their business models, whether it’s moving their shops from the high street to small-to-medium-sized stores in towns and cities or moving completely online.
And then came the COVID-19 lockdowns of March 2020 that forced many businesses to shut their physical doors. They had to turn to online trading or risk suffering from stagnant sales.
So, what should B2B businesses who rely on commerce do to ensure their sales and customer service, experience and satisfaction remain consistent? Our webinar with Episerver, market-leading digital experience experts, covers how you can ensure your B2B e-commerce strategy is built for maximum ROI.
Click the button below to watch it on demand.