Building and operating a global ecommerce platform can attract more online business buyers of all types and build new web sales, says Unilever global ecommerce director Marta Dalton. But extensive planning and decision-making go into making a global ecommerce platform really generate new and repeat business, says Dalton, who spoke today at B2B Next 2019 in Chicago.
“There’s lots of complexity that needs to be thought through,” she said. In effect, there are 12 different areas that make up the global ecommerce platform process. But there are five to keep top of mind: architecture and integration, legal and compliance, customer service, product content, and fulfillment.
“These are the priorities,” she said.
With architecture and integration one size does not fit all, Dalton said. For example, a shared ecommerce platform that works well for a company doing business in just a few countries might not work for a global company that has multiple business units and users in a larger number of countries. “We did a stand-alone platform on Hybris for a company I once worked for and we customized so much we couldn’t do the next new upgrade, said Dalton, speaking on the topic, “Globalizing your ecommerce platform.”
One best practice B2B companies can use to expedite the rollout of a global platform is to create a standard set of business processes and systems and architecture requirements that are the same for multiple countries.
Another best practice Dalton uses now at Unilever NV, a global manufacturer of more than 400 consumer brands, including such well-known labels as Dove soap, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Lipton tea, is monitor and rate ecommerce effectiveness for individual business units in each country market it serves. Each business unit uses a scoring system of 1-5 to rate ecommerce technology and business metrics that drive higher sales and higher average order values, and “create customer stickiness,” she said.
“This scoring system helps to take all the feedback from multiple international business units and define reusable templates and set priorities,” she said.
For companies looking to make an ecommerce platform global, it’s important to take the time to learn the specific rules and regulations for selling online in each country a company plans to reach customers. “Canada has tough rules surrounding data privacy,” Dalton said. “You have to decide if you adopt the rules of governance for just one country, or build it for all countries even, they may not yet have those same requirements.”
Another best practice that Unilever uses to gain efficiency and scale is to create standard web design templates that can be customized and used in multiple countries. “One great thing is that global ecommerce is highly visible, and users can see the same basics as a catalog, search box, and shopping cart,” she said. “You can build standard templates and customize them for each local audience.”
Unilever, across all forms of ecommerce—business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C)—grew web sales 47% in 2018 to around 2.49 billion euros ($2.80 billion).
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