Linda Taddonio: Meeting the eCommerce Imperative

Insite Software is a leading provider of B2B and B2C eCommerce technology and internationally enabled shipping solutions, serving more than 950 customers worldwide. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Insite Software’s solutions enable leading manufacturers and distributors to sell and distribute through multiple channels, supporting a competitive advantage through end-to-end online order fulfillment. Offering eCommerce and shipping solutions for companies at all stages of adoption, Insite Software solutions are fully integrated with a wide range of core systems for ERP, CRM, CMS, as well as third-party providers of search, optimization, payment transaction, tax table, and online analytics.

Golden Bridge: How has eCommerce evolved over the years and what are the emerging trends? What are the key trends in mobile eCommerce?

Linda Taddonio:
Today’s eCommerce is radically different from yesterday’s digital storefront. It has quickly become a multi-faceted, increasingly powerful spectrum of tools and technologies that organizations must have to remain competitive and relevant in today’s challenging business environment. The competition for online orders is increasing dramatically and if an organization is still using a first-generation eCommerce solution, it runs the risk of being outpaced by its competition.

Another emerging trend is in mobile as more and more users are accessing websites from a mobile device as opposed to the desktop. To this end, even the best eCommerce site that is not optimized to be device or operating system-agnostic will fail to deliver in today’s world of the “splinternet.” To make it a success, companies are moving toward a cost-effective technique called responsive design. Responsive design enables websites to obtain information about the viewing device and then display a version appropriate for the layout. This technique saves companies money by eliminating the need to build platform-specific or browser-specific versions of a traditional eCommerce site.

With 25 years of experience in industries focusing on manufacturing and distribution, Linda brings a unique understanding of ecommerce initiatives, business process, and ERP knowledge, as well as an extensive financial background to Insite Software. She offers Insite’s clients a unique blend of expertise, helping them to set and evolve their eCommerce strategy to deliver eCommerce sites tailored to address the on-going needs of a client’s go-to-market strategies and sales channels. In addition, her understanding of ERP integration and business process ensures that Insite’s ecommerce solutions can be successfully integrated with backend systems and effectively service diverse user requirements.

Golden Bridge: What are some of the challenges/opportunities the B2B market faces with eCommerce?

Linda Taddonio:
The B2B eCommerce market is expected to quickly outpace that of the B2C market. Per industry analyst firm Forrester, by the end of this year, the B2B eCommerce market is expected to reach $559 billion.

Company executives are starting to understand the strategic value of eCommerce. It’s no longer being viewed as an “initiative”, it’s the future of their business. New research recently released indicates suppliers’ websites aren’t capable of handling the evolving demands of younger B2B buyers. It revealed that most (90%) of B2B buyers age 18-35 now make company purchases online, compared with 45% of those age 45-60 and 29% of those age 60+. Because their current suppliers aren’t offering an online purchase channel, 45% of survey respondents used Amazon Supply to make a purchase in the last year, and 25% of respondents who used Amazon Supply make purchases on a regular basis. Organizations must ask themselves what are they must do to address the needs of Millennials and Gen Y customers that are increasingly growing in the corporate purchasing ranks?

The landscape is changing rapidly. Online powerhouses Google and Amazon recently entered the B2B eCommerce space and that is particularly threatening to manufacturers and distributors. There are ways that companies can win against these Goliaths, but they need to move now; analysis paralysis is deadly. We advocate a “land and expand” approach. The thought is getting started is key; from there you can gain insight from how your customers are using your site and improve the experience.

Golden Bridge: What strategies can companies employ to ensure their eCommerce site delivers on clicks to conversions?

Linda Taddonio:
Turning clicks to conversions is the name of the game in eCommerce. This starts by having intuitive web navigation as the foundation of a great online user experience. As the name implies, intuitive navigation allows users to instinctively find their way around your site. This allows the user to fully engage with an organization’s product or service offerings without having to first learn how to drive through this site. Key components of intuitive navigation include a consistent navigational structure, menu placement, site maps, site search, and text links.

Another key strategy in maximizing eCommerce conversions is to remember that content is king. Companies need to make their products stand out from the crowd. Product listings now include images, detailed descriptive copy, attributes, and the specifications and technical details for each product. This increase in information keeps buyers from having to guess that what they are ordering is actually what they want and should provide the ability to easily compare products. Buyers expect an easy to use, highly informative and visually appealing experience where it is easy to find what they need and make those purchases. Robust search is mandatory, especially for high SKU count sites, along with relevant product filtering based on product attributes.

Golden Bridge: Amazon and Google both offer eCommerce offerings for the B2B community. How can B2B companies with their own eCommerce site compete with them?

Linda Taddonio:
With the advent of AmazonSupply.com and Google Shopping for Suppliers, organizations must make strategic moves now to ensure they can effectively compete online. If smaller wholesalers and distributors do not have an active eCommerce strategy in place – or if eCommerce is not a critical piece of their current ongoing business growth – a portion of their core business is at risk.

Customers don’t expect B2B organizations to be the next Amazon or Google, but they do have expectations for a feature-rich, dynamic and interactive B2B engagement. The first step for organizations is to evaluate their eCommerce strategy and begin to address the emerging online business requirements of their customers. Once the business requirements are identified, organizations are ready to play to their strengths.

Wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers still have an edge over Amazon and Google through networks and established B2B customer relationships, product knowledge and expertise – plus a considerably wider product assortment offered within the vertical space – and both of these can be extremely advantageous. AmazonSupply.com and Google Shopping for Suppliers will compete on price and availability for their product offerings, but the value wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers provide in personal relationships and resources can make up for it – especially if they can price match when it matters.

Company: Insite Software | Minneapolis, MN USA

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