Why Your B2B Sales Team Is Your Marketing Secret Weapon
By Benjamin Arp
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“He who controls the customer experience controls the margin.”
–Rick Wilson, President, Miva, Inc.
March marks one of our favorite times of year as store owners, avant-garde professionals, and other leaders in ecommerce touch down in San Diego for our three-day ecommerce conference, MivaCon. It is here where leaders in online business converge, exchanging ideas, planning collaborations, and tackling challenges together.
After two days of mixing, mingling, and diving deep into your competitive advantage with Eric Yonge and the leadership team at Miva, Friday set the stage for three more industry heavyweights. And though the speakers represent different spheres in ecommerce, a singular truth rang clear—success in this digital age starts and ends with the customer and your ability to serve them your way.
“You don’t get into business so you can be really good at fulfillment,” laughed Robert Gilbreath, Vice President of Marketing & Partnerships at the Austin-based ecommerce shipping software provider ShipStation. Hailing from Internet Retailer Top 500 website Calendars.com, Robert is no stranger to the challenges of running a business with an online presence and multiple retail locations.
“There are a lot of moving parts you could be worried about. [What’s important is] focusing not on the urgent, but on the basics.”
–Robert Gilbreath, VP of Marketing & Partnerships, ShipStation
The fulfillment process is oft-overlooked as the last piece of the workflow puzzle, but Robert took the stage at MivaCon 2017 to share how well-designed logistics can impact your customer experience, and your bottom line. Speaking from years of experience, Robert shared four principles of beautiful logistics design that can free up your workflow today to be seamless, efficient, organized, and scalable.
Seamlessness speaks to the technology you use daily and eliminating any extra parts slowing you down. Even the 30 seconds it can take to upload an image will add up with thousands of orders. Which actions are tying up your time and resources with manual duplication today?
Efficiency addresses various touch-points, from the physical interactions between you and your customers, to the virtual points where information intersects.
Finding opportunities to consolidate paperwork or activities, like batching items as opposed to touching every single order, will only contribute to a more efficient workflow, reducing time and energy in the long run.
Organization considers the virtual and physical parts of your business, running processes by what Robert calls “the mom test”: “If your mom, or someone who is not tech-savvy, came in to see how you run business, could they make sense of it?” Even labeling boxes or files with easy-to-understand terms could save you time and stress in the long run. This fast-paced industry is only speeding up, and losing a key player in your organization could mean losing valuable insight difficult to replicate.
Finally, scalability refers not only to growth, but the ability to welcome it in the first place. Every successful business owner desires growth, but many are oblivious to what it entails until it actually happens. If demand were to spike overnight, do you have the systems in place to respond and sustain?
After diving into the opportunities of today with Robert Gilbreath, Jill Rose, PayPal Senior Director and General Manager of Mid Market, North America, took the audience into the past and the future. Jill highlighted the rapid boom of technology and commerce over the past ten years: from our obsessive connection with our phones (2,617 touches a day, if you can believe it), to the rise in online purchases (More than $2 billion processed in mobile payments between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, 43% up YoY).
From desktop to mobile unto today, Jill defines the evolution of online business as “contextual commerce”: giving consumers what they want, when they want it, with the least amount of friction possible to get it. Google Home and AmazonEcho, for example, are simply activated by your voice.
“Consumers no longer want to separate their payments from the day-to-day experiences in their lives. The new commerce experiences that emerge will be defined by their ability to make these experiences even more seamless.”
–Jill Rose, PayPal Senior Director and General Manager of Mid Market, North America
With innovations emerging like voice command, virtual reality, and the connected home, businesses would fare well to consider how their products and services can add to their users’ day-to-day. PayPal OneTouch™, PayPal’s new way to pay with one click, is the latest solutions offering from the worldwide online payments company.
MivaCon 2017 Executive Sponsor PayPal signing up store owners for PayPal OneTouch™ led to overnight conversions.
And if you believe conferences to be a whole lot of talk with very little action, consider this:
One business owner spoke up during the Q&A, attesting to an $800 increase in sales over the last 24 hours after signing up for PayPal OneTouch™ at their sponsor booth. And how!
Taking us home with the final keynote was the effervescent Jon Reily, Vice President of Commerce Strategy at Razorfish. And there was no guest more fitting to close out the keynotes than he, who interwove humor with the hard-hitting to turn attention into action. Armed with a bank of trends, Jon served up a smorgasbord of businesses innovating new ways to meet customer demands on their terms.
Take Best Buy and Amazon. In 2010, Best Buy added QR codes to product fact tags on the floor, inciting a quick phone scan for offline-to-online attribution. Today, Amazon is testing stores where human contact is obsolete, inviting users to enter an Amazon Go store, pick their items off the shelves, and leave. No clerks, no checkout, and no waiting in line—all thanks to a quick scan of the customer’s smartphone, connected to their Amazon account, upon entry.
In 2017, Amazon is testing grocery stores called Amazon Go which utilize sensors, computer vision, and deep learning to register items without waiting in line. (Quartz)
“By 2021, every single transaction is going to have a digital component. Every single thing that you do, you’re going to look up on your phone first.
But most companies are not equipped for this yet.”
–Jon Reily, Vice President, Commerce Strategy, Razorfish
So what’s the takeaway for, say, someone not of Amazon’s stature or size?
Companies who do not demonstrate a clear and compelling value-add bear to join the ranks of Blockbuster, Borders, and the like. North American retailers spent $176 billion on tech improvements in 2015 through 2016 alone, but in the words of Jon Reily, what got us here will not get us there. “Too many businesses are taking new technologies and putting old ideas in front of it.”
Rich Rauscher, EVP of Miva, Inc., speaking to Miva’s focus on a customer-centric culture starting with service.
Technology is a means to enhancing the customer experience, not solely for the sake of catch-up but to offer the products and services only you can provide. “By increasing the customer experience, [businesses] increase their bottom line.” said Jon. “Your customer doesn’t care [how you do it]; they just want to interact with you as a business any time they want, any way they want, whenever they want.”
And that’s the big idea. That’s contextual commerce. It’s what’ll keep you ahead in this ever-evolving industry, which only the right dose of personality, attention to detail, and a relentless pursuit to exceed customer expectations can provide.
What are your thoughts on the future of commerce? We look forward to hearing what you learned, or what you took away from MivaCon 2017—present physically or from afar.
If you haven’t already, check out MivaCon 2017 Day One recaps with Eric Yonge, President and Creative Director of EYStudios, and the Miva team led by Rick Wilson, President of Miva, Inc. And stay tuned for in-depth interviews with Eric as well as business operations and enterprise systems expert Doug Blumhardt for more actionable insight.
Miva offers a flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform that evolves with businesses and allows them to drive sales, maximize average order value, cut overhead costs, and increase revenue. Miva has been helping businesses realize their ecommerce potential for over 20 years and empowering retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sellers across all industries to transform their business through ecommerce.