When Pall Corp. launched a B2B ecommerce platform last year, the manufacturer of filtration and purification products used in various industrial settings, ranging from science labs to oil refining to airline cabins, took a hard look at how it could meet its customers’ needs through business processes as well as online technology
“We set objectives for ecommerce at a high level, to sell more products to more customers—and making our sales and customer services teams more productive,” Amit Gupta, vice president of digital solutions and ecommerce, said at the B2B Next conference earlier this month. “But most important for us in ecommerce,” he said, “was managing the entire customer experience—the entire journey before making a purchase. That’s how we approach ecommerce.”
He added, “Ecommerce is not isolated; it’s not just one function.”
84% of customers prefer ecommerce
To be sure, Pall, a unit of the diversified global manufacturing conglomerate Danaher Corp., realized that ecommerce was a top priority for its customers. In a voice-of-customer survey, Pall found a strong preference among customers for the option to purchase from it directly online. It found, for example, that:
- 84% said they preferred ecommerce as their purchasing method;
- 74% cited speed of transactions for why they preferred ecommerce over other sales channels; and
- 69% preferred to purchase from a manufacturer.
But along with the preference for digital commerce, Pall realized its B2B customers also demand special services, such as certification of product quality standards and technical service and support for complex, high-technology filtration products and systems. “It’s not just placing an order, but getting product information, getting certificates, seeing the status of orders,” Gupta said.
Ecommerce as an overall selling strategy, he noted, has five critical components: the ecommerce technology platform for onboarding and managing product information; marketing products and generating customer leads; fulfilling orders; engaging customers through coordinated efforts involving ecommerce, sales teams and CRM technology; and processing payments and managing financial records.
‘It’s about clicks’
“Having a digital platform is important, but it’s just a critical start,” he said. It’s also crucial to extend it with a cross-functional, organizational perspective, using change management techniques to align efforts among personnel and strategies across sales, product management and marketing operations, he said.
“Change management is not to be underestimated,” he said, adding: “Integrating business processes is more important than technology integration.”
One example of an important lesson Pall has learned, Gupta noted, is that while it’s crucial to design an online interface that helps customers to easily navigate a site and find and view products, it’s also important to figure out what online customers most need. “User experience is very important, but it’s not just look and feel, it’s about clicks—customers want one-click purchasing. User experience is important from a functionality standpoint.”
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