As with any change, shifting more of your B2B company’s business to digital is challenging. What surprises many is that the challenge doesn’t let up between starting and reaching your goal –it just changes focus.
“At first, the biggest challenges are technical,” says Riccardo Caruso, director of digital commerce and analytics at Illumina, a global manufacturer of genomic and biotechnology products. “As you grow, the challenges increasingly become more business-related.”
Caruso brings more than 15 years of industry experience including prior positions as global marketing analytics leader at Life Technologies and B2B Global Leader at Merck Millipore to his role as a panelist speaker at B2BNext 2019 in Chicago September 30-October 2. In a panel discussion, “Navigating the Complexities of Global B2B Ecommerce,” he’ll l talk about Illumina’s experience in overcoming country-specific regulations, differences in search engine marketing and other roadblocks facing B2B ecommerce companies that operate on a global scale.
In a recent interview with B2BecNews, Caruso shared some of the strategy behind the 2017 web site relaunch that tripled the number of million-dollar-sales days as on its prior site and increased average order value by 25% in its first year.
Q: What is driving B2B companies like Illumina to expand online?
Caruso: In order to sustain growth and increase productivity, you must access scalability. Ecommerce allows you to do that.
Q: What are the biggest challenges?
Caruso: Challenges vary as you grow ecommerce, and each one is important at its point in time. At first, the biggest challenges are technical. You have to design a platform that meets your company needs, in the near and long term, and you need a strong team to execute.
As you grow, challenges increasingly become more business-related: they range from business approval of new features and processes on how the company sells, to funding for resources to meet your growth objectives. The ultimate challenge is at enterprise level: now that you have built your Ferrari and all the parts are tuned up, you need the whole team to be on board, from the CEO and CCO, to leadership spanning sales opportunities to customer service. It is a shift not only in sales, but also of culture, internally; and of the digital relationship with your customers.
Q: What are the chief gains you are realizing?
Caruso: Since our ecommerce implementation, online orders have doubled, and we are on track to threefold online sales by year end. Most importantly, we now have a robust platform that Illumina can count on to continue its rapid growth.
Q: What in your opinion is the biggest thing B2B companies need to learn about e-commerce?
Caruso: Companies need to realize that going digital is a major trend: they have to invest in the digital relationship with their customers. Ecommerce is a key force necessary to ensure a competitive advantage. Ecommerce today is an important differentiator determining winners and losers in the marketplace.
Q: From what you’ve learned yourself – What is your most valuable piece of advice for B2B companies looking to add online sales or increase them?
Caruso: Ecommerce done well allows you to leverage your assets, scale up and grow. Ecommerce done well is paramount to thrive, but it is like going into battle: it has to be strategic yet tactical. It requires a robust platform rich in hand-chiseled features (our functional requirements were in excess of 4,000.) You may have the best technology yet you need a great team to run it. Neglect your ecommerce and it will become a growth constraint.
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