As we spend more and more time interacting with manufacturers in the marketplace, we occasionally meet up with the organization that dismisses the need for a B2B eCommerce website.
Here are some of the things that they're telling us:
- "There is no demand from our customers"
- "We don't want a website to get in between us and our customers. We want to seize every opportunity to speak with them personally"
- "We built it and they didn't come"
- "We invested in a eCommerce website and the project failed miserably. It took longer than expected, cost more than expected, was harder to maintain than expected and produced less than expected. It was a nightmare!"
- "Our customers don't want to retype their orders into our website"
- "We simply can't justify it"
I know it's self serving of me to say, but come on, it's almost 2009! The web is not a fad. People use it at home and they bring those expectations to work.
You wouldn't hear these sorts of excuses/complaints about installing telephones, fax machines or email servers in 2009. Would you?
In 2009, unlike the hype laden dot com era, eCommerce websites are not being billed as the "be all and end all" for customer interactions. They are simply an additional channel of communication with your customers. They should, however, relieve a significant amount of your routine phone and email traffic, and will probably obsolete your fax machines.
But it won't be for all of your customers. It may be the preferred channel for some and abhorred by others. It isn't meant to replace meeting or speaking with your customers. We want you to have more time for the more meaningful conversations with your customers. When you're checking on delivery status, resending invoices, or rekeying orders for your customers, you don't have much time left over to discuss that new product that was just launched or how you've noticed that they are no longer buying product X from you.
Look at it as yet another alternative way to do business with you. If you want to move money between your bank accounts you can go to a website, an ATM, any branch office, speak to a human being or punch the keypad on your phone. You have options.
Give your customers options. We're finding that many of them (especially the overseas ones) prefer to do their business when you're not around and they love the instant feedback that a website provides!
Even your EDI customers who you think are as hard wired to your organization as possible, love coming to your B2B website to check on shipment status or reprint certain documents.
The B2B eCommerce industry is at it's tipping point. We're going to push it over the edge with the simplicity and cost of our solution, the level of integration with SAP and the safety of our Agile implementation methodology.