B2B consumers rely on digital to research, narrow, and purchase products and services for their business needs. But you may not be surprised to hear that B2B companies are significantly behind their B2C peers when it comes to ecommerce. Traditional value chains have not historically supported B2B companies having their own online channels—until recently.

The need for B2B ecommerce has only been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturers and distributors that were ahead of the curve on ecommerce at the start of 2020 have benefited greatly from their investment.

So how does your business shift to ecommerce in a reasonable amount of time? In our recent B2B manufacturing ecommerce webinar, we shared the advice business executives and ecommerce directors need to know as they pursue ecommerce for the first time.

Spoiler alert: you don’t need to move mountains and invest two years of preparation in order to get ecommerce started. The key is to just start! Enter, the pilot program.

Watch the full webinar here:

Accelerating B2B Ecommerce for Mid-Market Manufacturers

with Ntara’s own Andy Didyk,  Znode’s Tom Flierl, and ecommerce author Brian Beck

How to prepare for a 4-6 month ecommerce pilot

Going live with an ecommerce pilot helps your team work in an agile format. You can start making money now (because that IS what it’s all about), and you use the pilot experience to improve your long-term scaling strategy.

1.   Know what success means

What does success mean right now? Understand your ecommerce journey is a moving target. Customer experience is critical to long-term success, but what needs to happen right now to start transacting online?

2.   Know where to start

Who is this pilot program for? Define your audience and get them involved in the pilot. Involve your sales team, too. Together, decide what products are the most important to start offering online.

3.   Know how to deploy

When it comes time to deploy, use an agile approach with iterative reviews. Again, ecommerce is a crawl, walk, run program.

4.   Know the required people/platforms

This is the backbone of every ecommerce project. What platforms and systems do you need for your pilot? Remember, you need just enough to get off the ground right now. You also need to determine which resources and how many you need to support this project—and you may need to hire a “co-pilot.” Get your digital agency involved and make sure they have B2B ecommerce experience so they can consult and guide you on this critical piece.

Find the right B2B ecommerce co-pilot

An agile approach gets you off the ground faster so you can start producing revenue sooner. Good ecommerce partners know what success looks like for a pilot versus the end goal. They know the realistic place to start, how to get your commerce shop live, and how to improve the experience over time.

The ecommerce platform you choose for your pilot is just as critical. Znode is an ecommerce platform widely adopted by B2B manufacturers and distributors. It offers speed to market without compromising the scalability and flexibility many large manufacturers need for the future. Ntara is a Znode partner because this ecommerce platform focuses on the unique needs of manufacturers and distributors while providing an efficient path to launching.

Is your business considering ecommerce? We’ve been in the business of digital for more than two decades helping branded manufacturers and distributors go to market online. Checkout some of our other blogs on ecommerce strategy below, and drop us a note to discuss your ecommerce project.