The best position for any B2B ecommerce business to be in is to have the site that customers have learned to depend on every day to help them do their work, says Matt Wingham, director of ecommerce at Cardinal Health. On the back end, he says, that takes a robust product information management (PIM) system, great site search and a stable, high-functioning platform that speeds online buyers to what they want to find.
On an Oct. 1 panel discussion, “Make Repeat Buyers Your Best Customers,” Wingham will talk about what features and functionality on a B2B site build a loyal following. Recently, he explained how Cardinal Health views the role of ecommerce in its business and how it’s meeting the channel’s challenges to B2BecNews.
Q: What is driving B2B companies like Cardinal Health to expand online?
Wingham: Our customers expect an intuitive, easy-to-use ecommerce experience that helps them with their daily workflow. Our medical customers need to research and purchase products quickly and ensure products will arrive on time for their physicians to use when providing care for patients. We view our ecommerce experience as an enabler for our customers to do their jobs more easily and an extension of our Cardinal Health sales team.
Q: What are the biggest challenges?
Wingham: One of our biggest challenges is product data. Given our customers No. 1 need is to find and evaluate products, customers need rich product content in order to so do. Creating rich product content and sourcing it from suppliers for over 300,000 materials is an everyday challenge.
Another challenge is being able to respond fast enough to our customers’ demands. We work in an agile environment and consistently prioritize customer feedback and enhance the experience based on that feedback. Moving fast enough in a dynamic environment is a challenge we continue to work through.
Q: What are the chief gains you’re realizing?
Wingham: One of our chief measures of success is looking at revenue influenced through our site. Revenue influenced for our prior fiscal year far exceeded our projections, which tells us that we are having a positive impact in influencing buying behavior.
In the near future, B2B customers will not want to sit at their desk or use their mobile devices to order products from your site. B2B customers will want you to provide contextual experiences in the medium of their choice. There is a ripe opportunity to differentiate B2B ecommerce by leveraging various innovative technologies such as voice, augmented Reality and artificial intelligence (AI).
Q: What is the biggest thing B2B companies still need to realize about ecommerce?
Wingham: What is next in B2B ecommerce? I anticipate that in the near future, B2B customers will not want to sit at their desk or use their mobile devices to order products from your site. B2B customers will want you to provide contextual experiences in the medium of their choice. I think there is a ripe opportunity to differentiate B2B ecommerce by leveraging various innovative technologies such as voice, augmented reality and artificial intelligence (AI).
Q: What is your most valuable piece of advice for B2B companies looking to add online sales or increase them?
Wingham: B2B customers are influenced by B2C experiences and expect a fast, intuitive, easy-to-use site that helps them with their daily tasks. B2B customers are typically task-driven and need an experience that will help them solve their daily tasks and get on with their day. The best position to be in is to have your site be an experience that your B2B customers can rely on every day to help them with their daily routine.
Q: Can you recall from your own experience an example of how following this piece of advice—or not following it —can affect B2B ecommerce?
Wingham: It’s important to focus on the basics and make sure that key foundational pieces that support a good ecommerce experience are in place before you launch to customers. Specifically, focus on good product content by implementing a PIM first that can feed your ecommerce site. Focus on making sure you have a good search engine and a stable high-performing platform that will enable customers to get information quickly and reliably.
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