Last updated: B2B e-commerce transformation: How to ‘skate to the puck’

B2B e-commerce transformation: How to ‘skate to the puck’


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The requirements gathering phase of implementing a B2B commerce platform gives you a chance to re-envision the business that you’re in, and answers the question, “What exactly are you building?”

One of the fallacies of B2B e-commerce is that you’re just building an online store. That’s really not the case, especially in B2B. You’re beginning your digital transformation as a business. In this stage you shouldn’t worry about the technical and implementation details. You really just have to worry about exactly how your business is going to work, and how you want it to work.

There’s a great quote by the hockey player Wayne Gretzky. He says he always “skates to where the puck is going to be.” That’s really the case with your business, too. Try to figure out where your business is going to be in two to three (and ideally five) years, where your puck is going to be, because that’s the business you’re going to want to build your e-commerce site around.

Here’s an example of a time that I did not see where the business was going. In Aramark’s coffee delivery business, I was creating a B2B e-commerce website, and the customers all had a fixed delivery schedule, let’s say the third Tuesday of every month. So we created the website to mimic that schedule. When we launched, all the customers were asking for a flexible delivery schedule, because every other website is offering next-day, sometimes same-day delivery. And yet, we hadn’t done that. So we had to create a new, rushed project to put a calendar in, because the calendar didn’t even exist in the checkout.

This is the second post in a series on how to successfully manage a B2B e-commerce digital transformation. See part 1 here.

Next, I want to talk about who you have to gather the requirements from. First of all, you want to get your internal stakeholders, and those are the people who are going to do the approving of the website before it launches. If they have approval power, you really want to go to them and find out what their requirements are up-front.

Secondly, you want to talk to customers. Obviously, customers are going to be using your site, so they’re the people you want to ask to make sure you understand their requirements, how they’ll use the website, and what features and functionality are important to them.

Next, you want to go around the organization to subject matter experts, outside of the approval process, and get people from HR, Marketing, Sales, Operations, Customer Service – you want the input from the whole organization, so you understand what their requirements are as well.

Finally, you want to prioritize all of these requirements. You must understand what requirements need to be included for the launch (the “must haves”), which are nice to have, and which can wait for a later enhancement phase.

In my next post in this series, I will talk about the criteria you need to evaluate in order to choose aB2B commerce platform vendor partner(s).

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