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Plan the Launch of a B2B Channel on Sitecore® OrderCloud® – Part One

How to Get the Info You Need to Quickly Create a B2B Channel

Walt Rolle

Head of EPAM’s Sitecore Competency Center
Blog
  • Energy & Utilities
  • Manufacturing & Auto
  • Retail & Distribution

To meet today’s increasing customer demands, B2B leadership must enable self-service evaluation, provide B2C-like experiences and support an increasingly digital audience and distributed buyer teams. The natural reaction to meet these demands is to charter a program supported by a cross-functional team that’s skilled to tackle various objectives, like opening new channels, eliminating physical touchpoints, improving personalization and reducing operational costs. However, most companies already have multiple platforms, limited budget and employees with limited bandwidth. Add that to the ever-evolving landscape of daily operations and technology, and it’s enough to cause analysis paralysis.

But what if you had a framework that helped you swiftly plan actionable next steps as well as access to a platform that was flexible enough to fit into your ecosystem? You might be able to respond to these demands, making changes quickly and accurately.

In part one of this two-part blog series, we outline six steps for facilitating successful workshops and whiteboarding sessions to gather critical information that can help you launch a B2B channel on Sitecore® OrderCloud® to enable you to meet your organization’s unique needs.

Step One: Survey the Stakeholders

Surveys are a great tool to guide conversation and collect data about the reasons why an organization should make commerce investments. You may also find interesting results if you use the same survey in different departments. Here are some questions to get your survey started:

  • What is the current state of self service on your digital channels?
  • Can you list your current KPIs (key performance indicators) or indicators that you wish you could track?
  • What is the competition doing? Have you noticed any changes lately?
  • What roles do marketing and IT play in your commerce program?
  • Do you have a creative strategy that contains branding guidelines, personas and customer journeys?
  • Describe your corporate structure and divisions. Where should you focus?
  • Can you provide recent customer feedback or surveys?
Step Two: Understand the B2B Model

The seller is central to the solution that is being developed. Is your organization the seller or are you enabling sellers to connect to buyers? Does the buyer redistribute your products? Do each of your buyers need to access a catalog that is personalized for their business? By using the domains of the seller, buyer, supplier and catalog, you should be able to create a diagram that depicts the relationships. 

Below are examples of common scenarios to use as a starting point:

Step Three: Map out Example Journeys

Now that the various actors and their relationships have been identified, sketch out a few use cases that represent the typical journey, like the following:

  • A manufacturer (supplier and seller) creates products known for build quality and efficiency.
  • The distributor (buyer), specializing in delivering certain combinations of products for a specific purpose, then buys from a subset of the manufacturer’s catalog.
  • Other businesses that require a supply of the manufacturer’s products purchase from the distributor to keep their locations stocked.

This example would be categorized as a multi-catalog B2B, where the manufacturer is leveraging OrderCloud to sell to distributors.

Step Four: Create a Product Catalog

Product catalogs are complex and can take a considerable amount of time to explain to a wide group of stakeholders. Focusing on a single product line or equivalent scenario will help illustrate the strategy for selling to buyers. Below is an example model for cleaning products:

To quantify other details, such as scale and edge cases beyond physical products, collect the following information: 

  • The number of SKUs
  • The number of product types
  • The number of categories
  • The involvement of digital products
  • Ability to sell online
Step Five: Ensure You’re Providing the Best Shopping Experience

Product owners frequently ask for feedback on their roadmaps. Their primary concerns are if they’re following best practices or missing any requirements. You can compare your plan to the following checklist to ensure you’re not overlooking anything vital to the customer shopping experience:

Shopping

  • Globalization and localization
  • Price levels
  • Bundling and discounting
  • Real-time inventory
  • Recommendations
  • AI-powered search
  • Custom SKU
  • Social sharing and reviews
  • Standing order
  • Loyalty program
  • Wish list

Shipping

  • Supported carriers
  • Destination restrictions
  • Product weight handling
  • Calculation logic 
  • Split shipping

Payment

  • Credit card 
  • ACH 
  • PO number 
  • Alternative payments 
  • Tax rules 
  • Global considerations 
  • Fraud detection

Confirmation

  • Confirm messaging
  • Inventory
  • Fulfillment integration 
  • Change and cancel process
  • Shipping updates
  • Returns
Step Six: Review Different Reference Architecture Diagrams

The MACH Alliance has created a diagram that represents a typical commerce environment. You can use reference architecture diagrams like that one to quickly identify gaps between the current and future state of your commerce capabilities. In this step, score each area on the diagram across the following characteristics: 

  • Current capability
  • Not optimized
  • Legacy 
  • Missing

Once completed, the diagram will help inform priority and projects, helping to create a roadmap.

In the second part of this series, we’ll explain how to present summarized findings to project sponsors in a way that inspires confidence and action. 

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