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In B2B commerce, make life easier for you and your customers

By Partner Guest Blog , Tuesday, January 9, 2018

E-commerce Insights blog

Welcome to the third post of our new Commerce blog series. Today’s post features Brody Buss, president of Layer One, a Sitecore partner.

By Brody Buss, President, Layer One Media

"Make life easier.” Manufacturers and distributors hear those words all the time from customers and coworkers.

As a digital agency, we hear it, too. Mostly we hear it from our business-to-business customers who want to find easier commerce solutions to enhance the customer experience. They want to make online purchasing easier, make returns easier, make it easier to find information. They want to personalize their interactions with customers so that the buyers get the information they need at just the right time.

We help them get started based on a core philosophy. We believe that converting data to information is the model that you must pursue to make a buyer’s life easier. This requires B2B marketers to connect their entire digital ecosystem so that their CRM, product information management, CMS, and e-commerce all work together to help make life easier for the customer.

That may sound simple, but it follows different approaches that dominated the past 15 years or more.  In the past, most mid- to large-sized manufacturers watched their operating costs grow year after year but they ended up with siloed business processes and poorly integrated solutions. Many companies then adopted end-to-end business process transformation solutions known as Enterprise Relationship Management (ERP). 

Even so, as buyers raised their expectations for customer-centric experience in recent years, these ERP solutions came up short. While they delivered solid benefits in business processes, the heavyweight ERP technologies lacked the agility they needed to make life easier in today’s omnichannel digital world. 

What companies need to please customers today is agility and speed to market. And to get that, they need a highly flexible integrated platform that covers as much of the digital ecosystem as possible.  

Too much, too soon

Many companies find their first attempts in digital commerce implementations fail. Why? Often we find it’s because they tried too much too soon. They want everything that can enhance commerce right now. Instead, we advise them to avoid such “big bang” deployments.

We suggest starting with a subset of your products or customers, then expand in phases. This subset may be a specific product line, short-tail products, or standard, non-configured products. As you get started, you can learn from specific lower-risk customer segments, or perhaps a comparison of existing customers vs. new customers. Starting simply also reduces internal and external risk. 

This crawl-walk-run approach allows you to grow into a broader model over time.  Then you can include additional customer types, product lines, long-tail products, and configured product offerings. By demonstrating the Layer One Media approach, we show companies how they can build a truly extensible system with the integrated commerce tools from Sitecore.

Just as ERP suites once led to standardized business solutions, companies are now finding this integrated approach works best to address the challenges in the age of customer centricity.

Why? Because it makes life easier.

 

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Brody Buss is president of Layer One Media, a Sitecore solutions partner