Five Key Takeaways from London B2B Commerce Meetup

Author: Richard Hunt

Last month, we partnered with Lingo24 to host the first London B2B Commerce Meetup on the theme of successful digital transformation. We had a tremendous turnout of eCommerce professionals from companies that span from startups to mid-sized companies to global brands.

Hot topics for discussion included: how to best compete and beat Amazon in the B2B space; moving into new countries; the importance of localization (or localization for my US friends) and, the realization of the importance of delivering consistent and engaging product experiences not just to retail customers but to industrial buyers as well.

I came up with 5 key, slightly tongue-in-cheek takeaways for ensuring successful digital transformation:

  1. Know your starting point: Let’s face it, achieving a complete and total digital transformation is a bit like reaching the top of Mount Everest. Most of us – even the boldest and most daring of us — will never get there. One surefooted step at time, however, will get you a lot farther than you think. Digital transformation isn’t merely about having a great-looking website. It’s about core vision, conviction and leadership, and it starts with a clear and honest assessment of where you’re starting from and where you want to go, in terms of organization and structure (for instance, how managers are rewarded for hitting goals) and your product content (its granularity and richness, as well as your processes for on-boarding and digital delivery). It’s a risk worth taking.

  2. Don’t boil the ocean: Technology vendors will throw everything and the kitchen sink at you to justify a project. While there may be more than 25 valid reasons for building a product information management (PIM) system, attempting everything on the list will be unattainable. Instead, set realistic expectations of what can be accomplished. Prioritizing the big wins is just as important as deciding which to leave out.

  3. “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content”. A great quote from Leo Tolstoy, which can be readily applied to today’s B2B company’s dilemma. When your directive is to take on 5-10 times more SKUs while radically reducing product introduction times, you have to pick your battles. Some SKUS will have to go straight to market; others will need to be held back so that you can develop richer product content. Distributors need to get suppliers to do the work and to employ machine learning and AI to help automate as much of the enrichment process as possible. While you’re taking the time to make every bit of product content perfect, someone else Is selling those products to your customers.

  4. It’s the boss’s idea: In order to transform digitally, the right stakeholders have to believe that a digital strategy is critical. It takes getting buy-in early from the top and the right leadership to set a clear vision for the roadmap ahead. Digital transformation for product-centric B2B companies is critical for survival and future prosperity. Therefore, the boss has to be centrally involved, and preferably it’s their idea

  5. Watch out for the fake news:  When companies invest in new technologies, they usually undergo a thoughtful evaluation process. Once purchased, the buyer’s reputation is on the line, and they’re the ones who are usually the most committed to its long-term success. They’re also the most knowledgeable. There are plenty of opinions and reviews of technology solutions, just a click or two away, but it’s the end-users who are the most reliable sources for honest evaluations. Customer conferences and meet ups are a great ways to avoid the fake news and accurately benchmark your approach to digital transformation.