In today's fast-paced world, businesses across industries are striving to adapt, innovate, and cut costs simultaneously. It’s not always glitz and glam, but sometimes merely glitch and spam. Matti Kiviluoto, an Advisor and Team Builder at Siili, shares his insights into the evolving landscape of B2B web presence and self-service within the manufacturing sector and gives his recipe for a smoother customer experience.
‘Wow, that’s amazing! ’ This is the reaction that today’s consumers expect from their digital experiences. Instead of reasonable or functional, consumers want their target user experience (UX) to spark a dazzle and a wow, all while operating on a 30% reduced budget compared to past renovations. While these aspirations may seem unrealistic, achieving them requires a fresh perspective.
Set by giants like Tesla and Netflix, even the world of business to business (B2B) is making these consumer-brand digital experiences benchmarks (as discussed in our "Decade of Digital Experiences" webinar already three years ago). There is no room for waste, and this calls for an "atomic design" approach, incorporating all assets into a well-managed design system and component library. The approach not only minimizes design expenses but also ensures consistency across various platforms, from websites to mobile apps.
”There is no room for waste, and this calls for an "atomic design" approach, incorporating all assets into a well-managed design system and component library.”
Start with the obvious: Consolidation
To breathe new life and appeal into your user experience (UX), it's important to streamline your back-office systems. The scenario often involves multiple systems handling similar tasks, a result of mergers and acquisitions. Your company might have acquired other companies (I’ll refer to these later as brands) and in return gotten yet another stack of systems from the ERP via the CRM to the DXP. Managing user experiences across these systems is actually costly and inefficient.
How to tackle this issue, then? It necessitates a pragmatic, piece-by-piece consolidation approach, starting with the customer-facing part, the Digital Experience Platform (DXP), and working backward to back-end systems. Integrate the data sources to gather data in a centralized way and then transfer the brands one by one to the main DXP when it makes business sense. Product Information Management (PIM) systems can play a crucial role in consolidating product data from various sources. The benefit of this approach is that it not only enhances your solution's capabilities but also simplifies adopting eCommerce functionalities.
It is crucial that the goal is clear – get one DXP catering for all your brands and their websites, third party apps, newsletters etc. Everything should use the same components but with a branded UX. In other words, design the UX once, but brand it for all of your brands. Applying the "develop once, brand for all" principle can lead to significant cost savings of up to 30–50% in development, maintenance, and license expenses, and considering an alternative DXP may be necessary if your current one doesn't support this approach.
Streamline your eCommerce Capabilities
If your company has large, customized, and high-value products, a traditional eCommerce approach may not be the best fit, but improving the purchasing process by providing clear product information and an intuitive path to purchase on your website is crucial.
Additionally, don't overlook consumables, spare parts, and add-ons, which often benefit from a traditional web-shop format. If you have an existing partner network handling sale, maintain a high standard for your websites and customer portals, centralizing product data for easy access and offering a "where to buy" option that leads to your preferred partner's shopping cart.
In self-service portals, eCommerce activities require even more attention than that. Users here are already authenticated and expect a personalized experience resembling a dedicated salesperson who knows their full sales history, product fleet, and specific needs. Users anticipate not only visibility of their entire sales history but also its utilization for precise timing and quantities of consumables and spare parts at multiple locations.
The portal should offer recommendations based on actual fleet usage, be it vessels, vehicles, or machinery, with a focus on data-driven customization to enhance the user experience. Hence, stick to the actual needs of the customer and avoid generic alternatives, which can alienate your customers and make them feel pressured into unwanted purchases.
“Stick to the actual needs of the customer and avoid generic alternatives, which can alienate your customers and make them feel pressured into unwanted purchases.”
Minimizing Running Costs and Ensuring Robust Service
Multiple systems result in multiple license costs, multiple development, and multiple maintenance costs. Achieving a low-running-cost platform hinges on its resilience. A robust platform not only saves costs but also avoids frustrating users with delays and bugs.
As your digital services are your storefront, a slow and buggy UX is the equivalent of disrespectful and unreliable customer service representative.
How can you navigate around these challenges, then?
Build robustness into your development process with an emphasis on security, coding practices, testing, and transparent communication
Develop your platform to scale effectively and use cloud services efficiently.
Adopt Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) principles, which combine a DevOps mindset with monitoring, auto-scaling, and error recovery.
- Design and develop features atomically and use a design system with a component library to ensure consistent UX across platforms.
- Consolidate your platforms gradually, starting with the customer-facing DXP and working backward.
- Incorporate eCommerce capabilities into your platform and centralize product data.
- Prioritize a resilient and cost-effective platform with SRE principles.
While we haven't mentioned any specific DX or eCommerce platforms by name, it's important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The right choice depends on your unique business case. At Siili, we're here to assist you in finding the perfect fit for your needs.
Matti Kiviluoto is an Advisor and Teambilder sho specializes in Digital Experience Platform (DXP) & Web Content Management (CMS)
LinkedIn: @Matti Kiviluoto