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How to Lay and Maintain the Data Foundation for B2B E-Commerce

Enabling the optimal digital experiences B2B customers crave and expect today requires consistent data across channels. The starting point for your B2B e-commerce success is considering the way you manage your data for products and customers.

Data, is often not ‘sexy’ enough to be given proper attention in the organization. This lack of attention results in data being of poor quality, inconsistent and locked in silos. Learn how to lay and maintain the data foundation for B2B E-Commerce in this article.

Data makes or breaks your E-Commerce success

B2B companies starting with e-commerce find it not as straightforward as putting their product catalog online. B2B buyers expect clear product descriptions, specifics to make comparison possible and several product pictures. Without a product picture, a product wouldn’t even be looked at or considered buying. Ideally, your product information includes rich media such as complementary products, videos, stories and illustrations.

On the other hand, incomplete product descriptions impact sales negatively. Incorrect descriptions lead to product returns and claims, and duplicate products will affect availability and logistics. All will result in an overall poor customer experience, damaging the brand. Every process depends on data being trustworthy, from selling products online, from manufacturing to retail, finance to customer support. Data needs to be accurate, complete, consistent, reliable and up to date for your employees and customers to do business. This goes for offline as well as online, the difference being the personal attention your employees can give in direct contact to smooth things out. When the norm for data quality is set too low, it will result in you ending up wasting time, losing revenue and having poor business performance. 

Data for a better understanding of the customer

The better you understand your customers, the better you can meet their needs. Meeting customer needs goes beyond providing personalization as part of the customer journey. By analyzing your customer data, you can segment your customers and take the right action to improve your customer relationships. The RFM model, for example, puts the recency of the last purchase, the frequency by which customers buy and the monetary value together to identify new customers, loyal customers, VIP customers and the loyal VIP customers you are currently losing. Approaching your customers with the right message at the right moment will draw them back in and increase their loyalty.

And that’s only the start. Every customer interaction with your product data creates new customer data. By capturing and processing these digital footprints, you can determine where in the customer journey your B2B buyer is and match that with relevant content. This creates more customer value and, therefore, more revenue.

Best practices to address the data challenge

  • Don’t talk data, talk business. By itself, data won’t get much attention. It’s better to start talking about the current e-commerce challenges that management addresses. Then, you can pinpoint the strategic role of data and position data quality as a key enabler for the digital initiative. Data powers e-commerce, but the business case for data is different every time. The crux for every case lies in showing the connection between data quality and the goals set. Show what happens when the data quality is poor. And when that message lands, you can establish the minimal data quality needed and discuss how your organization will get there.
  • What are you doing now? The best way to get started with improving data quality is by finding out what is already in place. Because no matter whether you already have a system for data management in place or not, every organization is already “doing” data governance to guard and improve data quality. Making these initiatives, policies, etc. more explicit and deliberate is often very useful. After that, the next steps to take should be defined by your organization’s short-term and long-term objectives.
  • Cultivate a culture of data. The biggest pitfall in implementing data governance is a general misunderstanding about data. Employees need to have a clear grasp of data, the value of quality data and the concept of data governance to get there. People need to work differently, and there must be a real benefit to switching the way of working. It helps to get management support and to have a corporate vision. One that explains why the organization is putting data on the agenda and how everyone should do their part. Start with mapping separate data processes. How are things working? What are the pain points? 

Want to learn more about the value of data for your business?

Our whitepaper Powering your business with data gives you all the best practices for getting the most value out of your data with data governance.

Download the Infographic: B2B E-Commerce Challenges


Overcoming the 4 Key Challenges to your B2B E-Commerce Success

Identify and address the bottlenecks preventing your organization from reaping the maximal benefits of B2B e-commerce.

Enhancing Data Management for Rensa Family Company

Rensa Family Company is an international group of technical supplier wholesalers for the installation industry. It had grown as far as its infrastructure allowed, and it needed to improve how it stored and used data. With 15 companies currently under the Rensa Family brand, each supplier has different ERP systems, so the organization needed to unify the data it received from the complex sources. The company also needed a single source of truth to manage its product data and assets to feed its channels, including e-commerce.

Rensa chose Stibo Systems for their Enterprise Platform (STEP) as a data management solution and asked SQLI to partner with the implementation.

“SQLI helped us to create a vision and lay a basis for setting up our new PIM solution STEP. Which will enable us to further improve our data management processes and achieve our E-commerce goals.”

Rens Godschalk, Head of Data Management, Rensa Family Company

This is the fifth blog of our article series on B2B e-commerce. Click here for the next article.

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