At National Instruments Corp., a multinational manufacturer of scientific and engineering equipment and software with $1.23 billion in 2016 revenue, online sales have become increasingly important in recent years, says Nathan Schatz, head of global e-commerce and digital marketing.
But e-commerce has become even more important to the 41-year-old company’s growth with the revamping over the past year of the company’s e-commerce site, NI.com. So far this year, online sales are up 22% over the same period last year.
Schatz joined National Instruments in his current role in 2015 after some 20 years in business management and e-commerce positions, including director of e-commerce at Dell Inc. He now oversees the business performance and key developments of the new NI.com, which National Instruments had started planning in 2013 and rolled out beginning in 2016.
As a panelist at the fall 2017 B2B E-Commerce Executive Seminar, hosted in New York on Oct. 26 by B2BecNews, Schatz will talk about lessons NI has learned in B2B e-commerce since launching its first customer-facing site in 2000. Recently, he shared some of those insights in a Q&A conversation with B2BecNews.
Q: What led to National Instruments Corp.’s decision to expand online?
NS: Several factors. We were using very old technology and were not able to scale to the needs of our customers or to the latest technologies. We also continued to hear from our customers they had a very hard time using our site and finding products and detailed information about our products online.
Finally, we knew we wanted our sales teams to focus on more involved system and product sales, and by spending time online with customers they were not able to do this. If we were able to scale the online experience, this would allow our sales teams to spend more time with customers and ultimately use both online and offline channels to grow our business.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge?
NS: Getting buy-in from the entire organization. The new website and overall transformation takes a lot of time and effort. The launches have taken longer than planned and because of this the full buy-in gets more difficult.
Q: What has been the biggest gain?
We are continuing to hear the new experience is becoming easier for everyone. We have removed several layers of difficulty and content from the site, and doing this allows customers to find what they are looking for quicker. Also, by deploying these new technologies we have been able to launch enhancements and new features online much faster than we would have been able to before.
Q: What’s your biggest piece of advice for B2B companies looking to add online sales or increase them?
Commit to change. Think about your customers and their experience and don’t waver from that philosophy. Finally, partner with your sales and product teams to get them involved. By adding them, it provides them with accountability and responsibility to push customers onto the site and ultimately increase sales and conversions.
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