How to Build the Perfect B2B E-Commerce Team
If you, as a B2B organization, want to achieve serious results with e-commerce, then you need to set up a team on it. How do you put that team together? The experts answer this question in this part of our Shopping tomorrow series.
During this session, the expert group “B2B Digital Commerce” discusses the topic: How to put together a B2B e-commerce team. Herbert Pesch (Director of B2B digital agency Evident) and Roelof Swiers (Country Manager Benelux at Intershop) are chairmen of the expert group and this time guest at Broeinest in Rotterdam. Broeinest is a concept of Baars & Bloemhoff and is the meeting place for (interior) architects.
E-commerce branch as a start-up business
Stiho (wholesaler for the contracting company) and Baars & Bloemhoff (wholesaler for the interior constructor) are both part of the Stiho Group. These wholesalers are in the middle of the transition from a traditional wholesaler to an omnichannel organization. Nanne Batelaan (Sybrand's Place): "In order to give e-commerce sufficient weight, we’ve set up this branch as a start-up outside the organization, under the name Sybrand's Place. The digital development of Stiho and Baars & Bloemhoff is being worked on there.”
Need for digital commerce?
The Stiho Group understood their need for a digital transformation, but not all organizations rate this equally important. Eric Croon (Zamro): "At the time there was already a web shop at ERIKS, so the necessity wasn't seen. The culture was also one that existing procedures and processes were adhered to. Understandable, considering that they work with complex products that are often accompanied by risk aversion, so that they can serve their customers as well as possible. Croon then created a large account with the small entrepreneur and together with a Zamro partner, established a large company that was able to create opportunities in the market for the small ones. “We started from scratch with an e-commerce organization, where a few things stood out: employees must have a digital mindset, be enterprising and daring. We say: If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough.”
If you are planning to build up a strong team to conquer the challenges of digitalization, follow the tips of the experts:
- Reflect what is happening in the market and translate that into opportunities for the organization.
- Embrace the digitalization not as a project, but as an ongoing process.
- If digital shall succeed, then the right mindset and culture are crucial.
- Ask for a commitment over three years so that you don't have to pitch every year.
- Find out what distinguishes your organization from the rest and seize this as an opportunity.
- If you don't do anything with data yet, start with it tomorrow. Your customers talk to you through their behavior. Find out what they want.
- Make or buy? What makes you unique is what keeps you at home. What commodity is, outsource!
- Consider a serious budget. Setting up e-commerce is not cheap.
- Develop a vision and know where you want to go.
To decision to strive into e-commerce needs a strong team that works dedicated to digital commerce on a daily basis. Three growth phases can be distinguished for an organization starting e-commerce: "Start, Grow and Optimize". The experts agree that there is a lot of outsourcing in the start-up phase. If the organization continues to grow a little bit further, more and more knowledge is brought in-house. The composition of the e-commerce team will also be changing over time: the more mature the e-commerce, the more specific the roles of the team members. The team is more and more made up of experts and less of all-rounders.
The perfect e-commerce team
Here are 8 tips for putting together the perfect e-commerce team:
- Think in terms of competencies and not just in functions. One person can fulfil several roles.
- Don't rely solely on knowledge. Soft skills and a good team composition make the difference.
- Culture is key. You need an enterprising team that dares to make mistakes and has fun with each other.
- The role of the Product Owner is crucial. He or she has knowledge of the business and listens to the core team. This person must be able to manage and collaborate well.
- Decide carefully which role you will play in your team. Will you be a part in your core e-commerce team, the internal organization or team up with a partner? This assignment changes as your digital commerce becomes more mature.
- Check whether you have the necessary innovative power. If not, hire in capacity, balanced against your time to market and budget.
- Immediately from the beginning, involve a (junior) developer. He or she has the technical knowledge you need to build upon further ideas. If you are late to participate yourself or rely heavily on an external party, it will be becoming increasingly difficult to acquire that knowledge in-house. In short: keep the technical gap small.
- Maintain knowledge about the digitalization concept, especially internally. Involve partners in new technologies, inspiration and new (business) concepts. Hire partners to be able to breathe with. This creates hybrid teams.
This is the fourth article of the B2B Digital Commerce expert group. To expand your knowledge about their insights, read the first (product information), second (organizational challenges) and third part (relevant KPIs).
Do you want to stay informed?
The Expert Group B2B digital commerce has a LinkedIn page in which the most important findings, learnings, tips and tricks are shared. Are you active in B2B and responsible for digital commerce/e-business or e-commerce? Sign up as a member of this LinkedIn group! There are already more than 150 participants. Master classes are also offered to assist B2B organizations in practical ways with digital commerce issues. Questions or registration for a master class? Don’t hesitate to contact Roelof Swiers.