What causes well thought-out B2B ecommerce strategies to fail?
More often than not, it’s not due to a flawed vision or objective, but because these strategies aren’t actionable.
In a recent Forrester report, “Use ACTIVE Strategies To Improve B2B eCommerce Execution” author John Bruno notes that this poor execution is due to a lack of “appropriate detail, direction, and substance.”
He also offers recommendations for how B2B businesses can transform these more generic strategies into what Forrester has dubbed “ACTIVE” strategies that can more successfully achieve company goals, especially in the age of the customer.
Let’s first take a look at the most common reasons why B2B ecommerce strategies die, and then how we can better position them for success.
5 Reasons Why B2B Ecommerce Strategies Die
From their interviews with multiple B2B ecommerce organizations, Forrester found that strategies failed for the following reasons.
1. Lack of Ownership
If there’s no ownership for a strategy, there’s no one to hold a team accountable and responsible for delivery. Leaders need to ensure accountability is clear, and be specific regarding who owns what. Bruno suggests that team members’ compensation be tied to the result of team effort.
2. Not Held to Deadlines or Milestones
Many organizations didn’t ascribe timelines, milestones, or deadlines to their strategies, making it difficult to instill critical urgency or discipline.
3. Not Measurable
If a strategy can’t be measured, it can’t be be judged as a failure or success. Metrics need to be utilized in order to determine if strategies are effective, goals are realistic, and to instill a sense of purpose and vision.
4. Don’t Take Best Practices into Account
Researchers found this one to be an anomaly, as B2B decision makers consistently rate peer referrals as one of their top-three most trustworthy sources of information. Don’t rush to create a strategy without first seeking third-party validation.
5. Not Actionable
Many strategies simply weren’t specific enough to be actionable. If a strategy is inherently vague, lacks clear definition, and/or offers ambiguous objectives, it can’t be acted upon.
How to Ensure Your Strategy Succeeds
So how can your business go about converting a typical, generic strategy into an active one?
Ensure your strategy is:
- Assigned: Strategies need to have clear, specific owners that have authority to make important decisions and take responsibility for the outcomes of those decisions. Bruno recommends choosing someone who has 1. Availability, 2. Expertise, and a 3. History of delivering projects within budget and on time.
- Calibrated: Ensure strategies are measurable, with clear milestones, deadlines, and timelines.
- Time-bound: Apply hard dates to your plan to keep teams focused on reaching milestones and prevent overly drawn-out projects.
- Integrated: If a strategy is to be effective, it needs to be team-centric and cross-organizational, ensuring that teams from across the organization are part of the decision making process.
- Vetted: Do your homework and learn from the mistakes of others. Seek out best practices from similar organizations in order to save time and money.
- Executable: Keep strategies realistic and lean, don’t overburden them with additional requirements or by trying to make them perfect before going out the door—they can always be improved down the line.
Want to learn more about how ACTIVE strategies can improve your chances of success as well as recommendations for building an ecosystem for continuous improvement? Download the full report by clicking the button below.