Today’s B2B buyers are looking for a customer experience that is increasingly personalized, mobile, flexible, and responsive. This means that more and more B2B businesses are devoting significant resources to upgrading (or, in some cases, developing for the first time) their e-commerce sites.
But there’s more to creating a budget for an e-commerce platform than simply figuring out the cost of new software. In order for any kind of technological investment to be truly effective, it must be properly aligned with a company’s goals and strategic objectives. After all, there’s little point in paying for features or capabilities that are not going to serve an organization’s particular needs.
To help B2B businesses put together an appropriate budget for an e-commerce site upgrade or investment, asking the following questions and considering the following points can serve as a useful guide.
Many B2B businesses have firmly established what their overall goals are. However, they may be less sure how, exactly, their e-commerce site helps them achieve those goals.
Responses such as “We need an e-commerce site to keep up with our competitors,” or, “We need an e-commerce site because our customers expect one,” are so vague that they are unlikely to prove a good foundation for effective e-commerce investment. In drawing up a budget, businesses should be prepared to clearly detail where an e-commerce website fits in to their overall strategy. Built-in success measures and key performance indicators are equally important to consider here.
B2B E-Commerce Benchmarks
To get a sense of how and why an e-commerce site needs to be upgraded, B2B businesses must have a sense of an existing site’s performance level. Companies should gather and compile key data on the average order value and current purchase conversion rate (and how those figures have changed year over year).
They should also determine the percentage of the business’ overall sales that are generated through the existing website. Finally, they should calculate how well the website supports dealer relationships, if dealers are used for product distribution. Getting the facts together on these questions will help businesses determine what specific areas need a boost.
Specific Budget Categories:
Hosting is a very important, yet often overlooked, aspect of an e-commerce site. A site’s specific features are naturally essential to consider, but those features will be of little use if a customer cannot quickly and reliably access the site itself.
B2B businesses should be aware of how much time their site typically takes to load – online tools such as WebPageTest can help with this task. Organizations should also know whether users tend to experience outages or navigation lags during peak traffic times.
It’s also important to consider projected growth in user traffic in order to determine whether and by how much the hosting environment will need to scale to support additional visitors. Businesses can look at user session growth from Google Analytics and share those figures with a hosting provider in order to develop an appropriate solution.
Content, e-mail, and search engine marketing tools are a vital part of today’s e-commerce world. B2B businesses should know what kind of use they are currently making of these tools in order to determine what areas would benefit most from greater investment.
In terms of content marketing, companies should consider whether product catalogs and manuals are shared on the e-commerce site and how much time is spent on ensuring these documents are up-to-date. In terms of e-mail marketing, companies should know what percentage of traffic is driven by e-mail and whether triggered e-mails, for situations like cart abandonment, are currently in use.
In terms of search engine marketing, companies should consider their present Google search ranking, as well as how much traffic, both paid and organic, is driven by search engines. Compiling these facts will help businesses identify gaps and opportunities to increase online revenue in these categories.
Software and Development
Upgrading software is what many B2B businesses first think of when they are planning an e-commerce upgrade, and indeed, there are many important points to consider here. As always, the first step is to determine how well the current e-commerce software is working.
For example, does the website show customers their own specific pricing? Can customers see both online and offline order status on the website? Are planned platform or system upgrades likely to impact e-commerce integrations, and if so, how?
Another software and development area that is becoming increasingly important for businesses to consider is mobile responsiveness. A test such as Google’s Mobile Friendly Test can help businesses determine the mobile friendliness of their current sites.
It’s also important for companies to have accurate numbers on the rate of mobile traffic growth over the previous year and the e-commerce conversion rate of existing mobile traffic. These figures will help determine what level of e-commerce software platform is needed to support future mobile-friendly growth.