Most companies had to quickly react to COVID19 in the last few months. This adaptation required a real shift to the digital world in order to survive. For many small & medium businesses (SMBs); shifting to digital meant primarily selling online “E-Commerce”.

Unfortunately, a lot of these SMBs weren’t ready for that shift. Why? Selling online is the visible part of the iceberg.

When offering your products or services online, you are offering an experience to your potential clients that gives them a taste of what they will experience when becoming your clients.

In 2020, the digital client has higher expectations from a service quality perspective than the traditional client.  Having an e-commerce website is no longer perceived as “exceptional”. What the digital client is looking for, is the extensive experience he gets with your brand.  This experience is driven by the ease of use of your e-commerce website first. 

On top of this, the digital client is looking for the details of your product; the shipping time & cost; the reviews & testimonials of other clients with your brand; your customer service; and your return policies; and then comes pricing.

Why is the client expecting an extensive digital experience?

Well, this digital client knows Amazon, Airbnb, Ebay, Walmart…. All those giant e-commerce companies that made all those details part of the expected experience that the digital client is looking for. One thing for sure, your digital client (B2B or B2C) is continuously comparing the experience you offer online to those giant companies. 

Of course, you have a value proposition that differentiates you from the companies listed above; but your digital client will recognize this differentiator only after validating the overall experience that he is expecting from your brand and he is comparing it to other companies.

So, what’s the solution?

The solution is simple, you have to offer the expected experience your digital client is looking for. You shouldn’t try to compete with those e-commerce giants… because you will definitely lose against them. 

You need to offer your own customized experience while absorbing the best practices of the E-commerce leaders. Learn more how client experience is driving the new normal of the business world, here.

What are the E-commerce leaders’ digital practices?

What makes the Amazon, AirBnb, Ebay, Walmart…. E-commerce leaders? It’s their enhanced digital capabilities throughout the supply chain that they turned into a real digital one.

The E-commerce leaders are capable of offering such a great experience to their clients because they have carefully & actively been listening to their clients needs and desires; continuously improving their offerings; and monitoring the client feedback. To absorb the best practices of the E-commerce leaders; it is important to understand that the digital experience of a client is the output of the whole supply chain.

Offering a great digital experience means having a great digital supply chain model that you are monitoring. This is the start point for your SMBs; identifying your own supply chain and digitalizing it will definitely be a real game changer for your clients & your business.

After identifying your SMBs supply chain and ways of digitalizing it; then you have to work towards creating a real customer centric culture within your organization.  Don’t think of customer service as a department, invest in making it a real culture where all what you do is driven by your client satisfaction. That means you know very well who are you clients, what they need, and how do you make their lives better through your products and services.

If you are able to complete the previous two steps; you will see your digital client experience getting improved and your return on investment (ROI) increasing; allowing you not only to survive in the digital world; but make it a real ally in growing your business.

Discover how to digitalize your supply chain here.

How do you become successful in e-commerce?

1. Adapted digital roadmap

To successfully sell online, different digital capabilities are required.  You may already have some of those capabilities in house. This is why before starting to invest in all kind of digital solutions and engage in a whole change process, you need to assess what is available to you so you can leverage it and avoid spending money when you don’t need to. This is what we call creating an adapted digital roadmap.

A digital roadmap is a journey map of the business needs from a digital perspective.  It allows you to clearly identify the available solutions in house, the needed one, how to integrate all of these, how to select the new solutions and what changes or inputs from people & process perspectives are required to make it successful and enable you to have the best return on investment. 

What makes a digital roadmap a winning investment is how adapted to your business it is. 

To create an adapted digital roadmap, you need to make sure it is driven by your business objectives not by technology.  Why? Because all companies have access to the same technologies; but your business objectives are the real differentiator to make your digital investments meaningful and worth it.

2. Communication plan
Once your adapted digital roadmap is created, it is very important to have a communication plan that goes with it.  To get the best return on the time invested to create an adapted digital roadmap, you will need to properly communicate it to your team.

Your team is the end user of this digital roadmap. They will have to execute the different initiatives identified, implement the digital solutions required, and adapt the new processes of the business.  The team needs to understand the needs of this digital roadmap, buy into it and be highly engaged to make its implementation highly successful.

To do so, it is highly recommended to identify champions for each identified initiative within your team.  This will not only help you ensure that you have strong evangelists of your digital roadmap in house, but also develop skills that will be needed on the long term for the sustainability of the new business model you are creating.

3. Implementation plan

Your digital roadmap is made of different initiatives that need to be completed in order to achieve your business goals such as increasing revenue through e-commerce, or enhancing client retention through digital experience…. Etc.

Most of those initiatives will require the input of third parties to be completed; they can be consultants, service providers, or solution providers. Having an adapted digital roadmap gives you the power of selecting the proper provider by identifying a clear budget, timeline, changes & input required, and linking it to a specific & measurable business objective.

When implementing those initiatives, you will need to make sure that your champions are highly involved in the selection & implementation process to ensure that knowledge sharing is happening so you get the best digital return on investment.

4. Monitor & manage

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” is the key of managing any business, especially when you are a small or medium one. Your resources are limited, so you need to make the best use of it all. 

This is why real time monitoring of those initiatives are important so you can quickly identify the improvement opportunities and work on them. The digital roadmap will make this step easier for you because you have already identified the business objective driving each initiative. So, measuring the progress of achieving those objectives will allow you to measure the return on investment for each initiative.

Conclusion Having B2B or B2C clients; you need to invest in E-commerce website. Before investing in any solution, make sure you are setting yourself for success. Here is a summary of what you need to do:

  • Identify your supply chain 
  • Start the digitalization of your supply chain as soon as possible
  • Develop a client centric mindset within your organization
  • Create an adapted digital roadmap for your business
  • Develop a communication plan that goes hand in hand with your digital roadmap
  • Have an implementation plan to execute the needed initiatives
  • Monitor & manage in real time the value those initiatives are adding to your business.

Meriem Dibaj

Meriem is a dynamic business strategist on a mission to help developing companies transform and grow. With two Master’s degrees in business, a certificate in Digital Transformation from the University of California, and international experience, she relishes the opportunity to remove obstacles and help businesses reach their full potential.

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