Plans to build and grow a business-to-business e-commerce operation typically must address more complexity than found in an online retail business: They must address the needs of individual buyers as well as their purchasing managers, for example, and meet a balance of both self-service e-commerce and purchases supported by an experienced salesforce.
But B2B organizations often fail at executing such plans, not necessarily because their goals are out of reach, but more likely because they lack such details as identifying which individuals from which departments are responsible for specific tasks, and researching best practices that successful online businesses have deployed, Forrester Research Inc. says in a new report released this month.
“More often than not, B2B e-commerce strategies fail because they are fundamentally flawed in their design,” Forrester says in the report, “Use ACTIVE Strategies to Improve B2B eCommerce Execution,” by John Bruno, Forrester’s senior analyst for B2B e-commerce, along with other Forrester analysts.
Forrester, using the ACTIVE acronym in the report title, lays out a six-step method for helping companies put B2B e-commerce strategies into action:
- Assigned—A plan must assign “clear owners” of the B2B e-commerce plan who are authorized to make decisions and responsible for the outcomes;
- Calibrated—The strategy must be measurable with clear check points;
- Time-bound—Set critical time windows the B2B project team can rally around;
- Integrated—Effective strategies must include participants from across multiple departments;
- Vetted—Study the lessons peers have learned;
- Executable—Keep strategies lean and realistic; launching a good strategy today that can be improved tomorrow is better than trying to launch an all-encompassing, “perfect” project.
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