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Behaviors of Successful eCommerce Distributors – Part 1 of 3

3 Ways People Impact Your eCommerce Success

For any business, the core components of a successful operating model revolve around people, process, and technology (PPT). Every goal created, every decision made, and every action implemented is tied to these three elements. Alone, each part acts as a cog that helps run your business; but together these cogs interconnect to create a well-oiled machine that propels you forward.

When it comes to your eCommerce efforts, a balanced PPT approach can make the difference between a basic online presence and an effective, revenue-generating digital branch of your company. In this three-part blog series, Scott Frymire, SVP of Marketing at Unilog, shares nine actions that successful eCommerce distributors are taking to make their mark in the B2B digital commerce marketplace.

If you’re looking to increase your chances for eCommerce success, you must invest equally in your people, process, and technology needs. Frymire says Unilog customers who have done just that are benefiting by having a relevant, resourceful, and profitable eCommerce site. In part one of our blog series, Unilog’s marketing leader provides three steps your business can take that revolve specifically around the people in your organization.

  • Establish executive-level support

    While you know having a digital branch is the best way to develop your business, your executive team may not be entirely sold on the idea. However, if you build a compelling case that shows the benefits and anticipated ROI eCommerce can offer, you are more likely to gain buy-in and support. Make it clear to your executives that an eCommerce project must be a company-wide initiative and priority for the entire enterprise – from IT and sales to marketing and operations.

    “It’s a no-brainer to have this type of top-down support,” remarks Frymire. “You’ll have a much better chance at success with your eCommerce project when you have true cross-functional backing across your business.”

    Bay Fastening Systems, an industrial supplier and Unilog platform customer, launched their website in 2014, but before they did, they made sure company leaders understood a website was not only something they wanted – but needed – if they wanted to remain competitive. Michael Eichinger, COO of Bay Fastening, contends, “Distributors are faced with increasing competition and retaining customers. An eCommerce site can increase the business they have, streamline processes, reduce costs, enhance the market perception, and allow them to the generate more profits.”

    In Bay Fastening’s case, their digital branch has made an enormous impact on their business by providing an alternate sales channel for customers, while also feeding into their traditional sales channel. Eichinger explains that as their web initiative shifted some existing customers to online buyers, it also attracted new customers who found them online but still wanted to do business in a traditional fashion with a sales rep. “What started out as a bit of a trade-off actually turned into growth in both sales sectors and, as a result, we’re trending towards 125% growth of our entire sales revenue since we started our digital transformation,” says Eichinger.

  • Create an eCommerce head

    In order to see your own digital transformation come to fruition, you need a specialized team member to lead your eCommerce efforts. Frymire stresses putting a lot of thought into who you put in that position. He suggests employing someone with P&L responsibility who can monitor the site’s performance and impact on your business. “If you were to open a new branch location, would you hire the head of marketing or IT to run that branch? No. You’d hire a branch manager because they have the skillset and responsibility for the performance of that branch of your business,” he explains. “So, it only makes sense that for your digital branch you hire an eCommerce manager.”

    When Hill & Markes, a distributor of foodservice disposables and jan/san supplies, realized their legacy website platform did not live up to customer standards, they brought on Mike Powers as their eCommerce Manager to identify their current site issues and partner with Unilog to overhaul their digital commerce platform. With Powers’ business development and cross-functional experience, he led the distributor’s efforts to build a better, more robust website with custom tools to benefit their buyers. He and his team continue to measure and track their site performance, which shows a boost in the number of online orders and online registered accounts, and – most importantly – a greater share of total revenue generated through their website. Without the installation of a dedicated eCommerce head, the Hill & Markes success story could have had a much different outcome.

  • Invest in a data analyst

    Another resource that can help fuel your eCommerce initiative is a dedicated data analyst who collects your website data, organizes it, and uses it to reach meaningful conclusions. Utilizing analytics tools reported from your platform, as well as other tools like Google Analytics, a data analyst can improve the user experience by investigating the reasons behind cart abandonment, low conversion rates, or high bounce rates. They can also monitor your website traffic, see the number of sessions, and determine your online average order value (AOV) to measure your site’s efficacy and usability. In addition to evaluating data, an analyst can also perform quality control to ensure your site’s content remains relevant and helpful for site visitors.

    Shawn Arnold, eCommerce and Marketing Manager at Turner Supply Company, knows the value of having the right team in place to lead their eCommerce efforts. “I can say with confidence that one vital role for us has been that of a data analyst,” Arnold maintains. “He has completely changed the game by introducing new ways to work with data, automate it, and ensure that we have the right data processes in place for a scalable and sustainable eCommerce program.”

    It’s not just Turner Supply who has seen the benefits a data analyst brings to an organization. Other Unilog customers who have hired data analysts say they have helped improve their digital branch. “When data analysis is second nature to someone, that person can provide a real boost to your eCommerce success,” maintains Frymire.

People are undoubtedly a critical component in any successful business model and, as we’ve pointed out, are just as key to eCommerce implementation and management. Whether you’re just beginning your digital journey or are adapting your existing eCommerce strategy to improve your digital branch, enlist the support of your executive leaders and explain the value of having a dedicated eCommerce staff. Other B2B distributors have proven these actions have played an integral part in their digital commerce success.

Stay tuned for the next post in our three-part series, when Frymire shares three process-related actions you can take to strengthen your eCommerce channel.

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