Welcome back to Part III of our series discussing the three key issues highlighted in the Forrester report “B2B E-commerce: A Trillion Dollars For the Taking”. Now that we’ve talked about the importance of optimizing the B2B customer experience and reviewed some tips on how to overcome channel conflict between e-commerce and direct sales, it’s time to talk about staffing.

Technical and Nontechnical Talent Needed for B2B Organizations

B2B organizations moving into e-commerce need to begin staffing to optimize the B2B experience to match B2C expectations. This will include:

  • merchandising,
  • personalization,
  • marketing, and
  • technical management

for creating online features such as those common to B2C online shopping.

In addition, B2B organizations need to address more complicated:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Sales force enablement
  • Purchasing workflows
  • Complex pricing models
  • Custom catalog and contract pricing
  • B2B specific fulfillment methods

Finding the Right Team

Staffing for the future of B2B e-commerce is going to necessitate training, collaboration, and creative thinking. The Forrester report “B2B E-Commerce: A Trillion Dollars For the Taking” offers a couple of insights:

  • Import talented B2C staff — According to the report, “Most B2B e-commerce executives tell Forrester that they prefer to hire employees who have a background in B2C e-commerce on the grounds that many strategies and tactics that have succeeded in B2C will also succeed in B2B.” A winning strategy is to hire talented B2C professionals: they can share insights to help create B2C-like experiences while being trained on B2B needs.
  • Convert promising internal employees — Many companies initially grow a B2B e-commerce presence by establishing a cross-functional team from tech management, marketing, and customer service for initial website setup. Rather than repositioning your focus or looking for outside staffing after your website is up and running, the report suggests that success may come from retraining these internal resources as part of an ongoing e-commerce team.

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