E-commerce is increasingly popular with consumers and buyers in the B2B environment, yet many manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers continued to resist the move to online selling. Fear is usually the reason they resist — fear of the new technology, that existing customers won’t buy online, and that employees won’t be able to adapt to new ways of doing business.
The challenges of operating and surviving in the Covid-19 environment forced many slow adopters to face their fears. According to a McKinsey survey, respondents reported acting on their digital transformation 20 to 25 times faster than they expected.
Many B2Bs are still overwhelmed by the thought of launching a digital channel. For these companies, understanding the value and use of the minimum viable product (MVP) could dispel some of those fears. In business, MVP is a valuable approach to easing into new channels and new selling models.
Understanding the MVP in B2B E-Commerce
The MVP is the minimum workable version of an e-commerce website, created in just a few months, with the features that must be included for initial success. Throughout the process, the site is continually refined and changed as users interact with the site and more data becomes available.
Creating the MVP reduces anxiety about the move online and removes some of the uncertainty. Not only does this approach get you to online selling faster, you can learn from the early customers and users and make improvements as you expand your e-commerce site.
Whether you are selling offline and are now looking to move online or an owner of outdated systems looking to implement a more robust solution, an MVP offers an effective way for B2B brands to test the functions and viability of e-commerce. Even a scaled-down version of a web store is an excellent way to evaluate user reaction to the new channel and customer willingness to place their orders.
Diving into E-commerce
Covid-19 accelerated the move to digital channels for buyer-seller interactions. Face-to-face meetings moved to Zoom and virtual trade shows replaced in-person events. According to Gartner’s Future of Sales 2025 report, digital interactions will continue to disrupt traditional sales models for the next five years.
An MVP allows those reluctant to make the move to e-commerce to gradually ease into the future of B2B commerce and to meet their customers’ new buying preferences and succeed at online selling.
Other benefits of an e-commerce MVP:
- Requires a smaller commitment of time and money during development.
- Minimizes financial, development, and marketing risks.
- Determines if you’re providing the experience your customers want.
- Provides feedback to better align the digital transformation road map to customer needs.
- Smooths the internal adoption of the digital processes.
With the MVP approach, you can take small steps into digitizing your business. You don’t need to map an entire transformation process, and you don’t need to master multiple technologies. Launching the MVP allows you to create revenue while still developing, enhancing, and improving the digital experience.
Integrating Business-Critical Systems
At a minimum, you’ll want to integrate your enterprise resource planning (ERP) and the e-commerce MVP. This allows product data and inventory levels to flow between the two systems. Integrating these systems ensure you don’t sell inventory that’s not in stock and gives customers insight into your supply chain status. The initial integration focus may be with just your ERP and may even sync only one group of products. Once the initial integrations operate as intended and you overcome the fear of the technology, branch out.
Don’t Fear The MVP
If fear has you stuck with analog sales and processes in a digital world, the MVP is the best way to calm those fears. The e-commerce MVP approach will allow your B2B company to deliver innovative technology solutions and improve your customer experience while saving development time and money in the process.
Talk to your e-commerce vendor early about your fears and how you can use the MVP process to ease into the digital waters. Agile, flexible, and forward-thinking vendors and technology partners will be happy to support your MVP approach.
If the expense of introducing e-commerce to your channel is one of your fears, contact Allied Financial about accounts receivable financing. Protect your cash flow while you invest in the technology to grow your business.