Preparing a 2016 B2B Ecommerce Budget

It’s time to pull together the 2016 budget for your B2B ecommerce site.

Budgeting for a B2B ecommerce site typically has four phases: information gathering, reflection on priorities, assigning numbers, and final prioritization. The first two stages are the most time consuming and important. Pulling together numbers will make the most sense once you have gathered the right information and answered key questions about what it means.

This article will focus on the first two phases: What kinds of information to gather and what to reflect on for priorities.

Information Gathering

It’s best to start at a high level about your overall goals and current site performance. Here are some questions to answer.

For overall company goals, address these questions.

  • What are the overall company goals for 2016?
  • How can your website support your company in achieving those goals?

Answer these questions to determine B2B ecommerce benchmarks.

  • What is your current purchase conversion rate? How has it changed year over year?
  • What is your average order value? How has it changed year over year?
  • What percentage of your overall sales come through your website?
  • If your company uses dealers to distribute products, how well does your website support your dealer relationships?

Reflect on Priorities

Once you’ve determined how your B2B ecommerce site can support the overall goals of the company, it’s time to get to specifics. Break down your plans into three major areas: hosting, marketing, and software and development.

Hosting. To get an understanding of how well your hosting environment is working for you, answer these questions.

  • How quickly does your site load today? (Run a quick test at WebPageTest. )
  • In peak traffic times, are users able to quickly navigate the site or does it lag?
  • Have you experienced outages?

As you plan your hosting budget, consider how your hosting environment may need to scale to support additional traffic growth over the next year. To do this, look at the growth in user sessions over the last year from Google Analytics and project your growth for the next year. Share this with your hosting provider and ask the staff there to assist in developing a solution that will scale to meet your needs.

Marketing. Get started by answering some questions about how you are currently using content, email, and search engine marketing.

For content, ask these questions.

  • Are you sharing product catalogs and manuals on your website?
  • How much time is your team spending to ensure the latest versions of those documents are available?

Ask these questions for email.

  • How much traffic is coming to your site today via email?
  • Are you using triggered emails, such as for cart abandonment?

For search engine marketing, consider these.

  • How much paid and organic traffic does your site receive from search engines?
  • When you search on important keywords for your industry, does your site appear on Google’s search results?

What opportunity exists for your business to drive online revenue through site content, email and search engine marketing?

Do you have internal resources for content development — such as design and product photography — and for search engine marketing? Do you have the external partners in place? Share your ecommerce marketing goals with your partners and ask them to develop recommendations and solutions.

Software and development. To gain clarity on how your ecommerce software is working, start with these questions.

For software and data integrations, address these queries.

  • Are your customers able to see their specific pricing on your website?
  • Can your customers view their order status via your website for online and offline orders?
  • Will platform upgrades or other system upgrades planned for the next year impact your ecommerce integrations?

For mobile ecommerce, ask these questions.

  • Is your site mobile responsive today? Test your site’s mobile friendliness at Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.
  • From Google Analytics, how has your mobile traffic grown over the last year? What is your ecommerce conversion rate for mobile traffic?

Ask these questions for site search effectiveness.

  • What are common terms people type into the search box on your site?
  • Do the search results produce the products you want visitors to find?

In short, can your ecommerce software platform support your future growth? Establish priorities — requirements and nice-to-haves — for hosting, marketing, and software and development.

Final Steps

Once you have the priorities in place, pulling together the numbers is a matter of sharing your plans with your current and prospective partners and asking them to come back to you with quotes.

Often, once you get those numbers, there is another phase of final prioritization. Having an understanding of what things will cost allows you to adjust your priorities in light of your expected return on investment.

In the end, you will have a budget that is a valuable tool for supporting your company’s B2B ecommerce vision.

Lori McDonald
Lori McDonald
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