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How to prepare for launching a B2B ecommerce website

Digital transformation isn’t something you do every day.

And for lots of companies, creating an ecommerce launch plan can seem overwhelming.

But for us at Apparatus, it’s our bread and butter:

We’re here to make the transformation as easy as possible for B2B companies like you — so you can get started, put your plan in action, and see real success with your ecommerce project.

Here’s what you need to know to prepare for a B2B ecommerce launch:


1.         Set your goals


Before you dive into any new project, you need to start with ‘Why?’:

Why are you making the move to ecommerce?

Why is it a priority — and why is now the time to do it?

With a clear understanding of the business benefits, every step of your project starts to fall into place. You’ll find it easier to:

  • Prove the business value of ecommerce to senior management
  • Get buy-in and support from other departments
  • Focus on the features that make the biggest difference
  • And measure the progress and success of your ecommerce project.

Lucky for you, this part is easy — because there are so many benefits to choose from!


Are you launching a B2B ecommerce site to:

                          • Get access to new customers?

                          • Create a better customer experience?

                          • Reduce your internal admin?

                          • Increase your average order value?

                          • Keep up with the competition?

                          • Stand out in a crowded market?


It could be any one or two of these — or everything at once.

What’s important is that you set the right goals for your business — and refer back to them as you move forward with your ecommerce launch strategy.


2.         Get organised


There’s a lot of complexity behind a B2B ecommerce site.

(That’s especially true for the wholesalers and distributors that Apparatus was made for — where you’re selling huge volumes of commoditised products.)

For a lot of companies, upgrading your sales process means opening a whole can of worms:

Where your ERP system has been slowly developed and added to over the years, you can end up with some inconsistencies — and some truly messy data.

But our teams love a challenge!

At Apparatus, we pride ourselves on our flexibility, building custom integrations for every project.

We can work with any and every business system — no matter how your data is laid out.

But if you want the best results from your ecommerce project, you need to get organised. You need to make sure that:

  • Your data is organised and tidy
  • Your customer accounts are set out in a consistent way
  • Every function is on the system (for example, any special deals for favoured customers).

An ecommerce site works best with consistent and systematised data — and so does your business.

So no matter where you are with your ecommerce project, it’s never the wrong time to organise your data and get your accounts in order.


3.         Map your customer journey


It’s important to match your ecommerce site to your business processes, with integrations to your systems and data that make everything run smoothly.

But it’s just as important to match your website to your customers — and the steps they go through to buy from you.

You need to know what your order process looks like from the customer’s side — from the first point of contact, all the way through to receiving payment.

With the right understanding of your customer journey, you’ll know exactly how to lay out your B2B ecommerce site — and the best way to integrate it with your business systems.


4.         Choose the right launch


With so much focus on features and tech, it’s easy to forget about what’s really important:

What your B2B ecommerce launch will look like to your customers.

The way you launch your new site can have a big impact on its success (and the level of engagement you get from your customers).

So how do you choose the right launch for your site?

It depends on where you’re starting from.

Most businesses will be launching from one of two places:

  1. You’re already selling online
  2. You’re completely new to selling online.

If you’ve already got customers buying online, then launching your ecommerce site is simple. It’s usually best to give your customers a login on launch day — and get them shopping in the way they’re used to.

But if B2B ecommerce is a completely new venture, it’s best to go in with a little more caution: it's possible you'll run into some teething problems in the early stages.

For companies who are new to selling online, we recommend a phased approach — inviting new customers in batches to move to the new site over a period of a few weeks.

With this phased approach, you’re limiting the risk of things going wrong, and you’re giving your teams a chance to deal with any initial questions and queries that might crop up.


Worried about a rocky launch?

With Apparatus, we have a Hypercare period with every new site that goes live.

You’ll get 8 weeks of super-focused support from our teams — so you’ll have experts by your side in case any issues pop up.

Learn more about our support


5.         Measuring success


Remember those goals you set at the beginning?

You’re going to need a way to measure them. And it needs to be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound.

As you plan your launch and move your ecommerce project forward, you need to know in advance how you’re going to mark your success.

And it all comes down to one simple question:

What does a successful ecommerce site look like to you?

There’s no single answer that applies to every company. But it might look something like this:


You can measure your success by:

                              • The percentage of customers buying online

                              • The percentage of sales coming through your site

                              • Your revenue from ecommerce sales

                              • A reduction in customer queries

                              • A reduction in manual order entry


No matter what goals you set and the metrics you measure, it needs to make sense for your company. You need goals that are realistic and ambitious — and metrics that are concrete and well-defined.

You can’t just aim for ‘customers buying more’ or ‘more revenue online’. You need SMART targets that really mean something to your success.

(It’s the only way to prove that ecommerce is working!)


6.         Build an ecommerce team


If there’s one mistake we see too often in a B2B ecommerce launch plan, it’s this:

Some companies think it’s the responsibility of just one department.

But here’s the truth:

Everyone has a stake in the success of your ecommerce project. And if you’re not getting support from every area of your business, it becomes harder to take your project to where it needs to be.

So who should be involved in your ecommerce team?

You should think about:

  • Sales and Marketing — to get a customer perspective on your new platform
  • IT and Technical — to work with your ecommerce partner to integrate your systems
  • Management and Board Members — for their input on budget, timescales, and expectations.

But while you need support and input from different departments, that doesn’t mean you should spread the responsibility.

You’ll need a dedicated project leader to act as the main point of contact and bring them all together — as well as being the main point of contact with your ecommerce partner (like us!).


7.         Get an expert partner


No matter how much you prepare for your B2B ecommerce launch, there’s no better shortcut than working closely with an experienced provider.

At Apparatus, we’ve spent years refining our Methodology, creating a structured approach with helpful onboarding that makes the move to ecommerce as smooth and painless as possible.

Our specialist teams have helped countless companies to get started and see real success with their ecommerce project — with insider knowledge of the issues you might face (and how to prevent them).

So if you’re getting ready to upgrade your sales process with a new B2B ecommerce site, start a chat with one of our experts — and we’ll help you prepare for transforming your business.

Talk to an ecommerce expert





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