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Tracking key B2B ecommerce ordering metrics is crucial for understanding the performance of your online store and making data-driven decisions to optimize sales and customer satisfaction. Here are some key metrics you should keep track of:

Average Order Value: AOV is the average amount of money each customer spends per order. It is calculated by dividing total revenue by the number of orders. By tracking this you can compare the average order value of orders placed using your ecommerce platform to the AOV of customers using other more traditional methods of ordering.

Average Order Volume: The average order volume is the amount of orders on average which are placed through your ecommerce platform. The average amount of orders should be growing each month as more of your customers gravitate towards a digitalised ordering method.

Repeat Purchase Rate: This metric shows the percentage of customers who make more than one purchase from your store over a specific period. It helps measure customer loyalty and retention. If a customer is using your ecommerce platform repeatedly then chances are they are satisfied with the platform and are happy with the offering. If they are for example, a one time user and then never use the platform again or are sporadic in using your platform it could signal room for improvement.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): CLV is the predicted net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer. It helps you understand the long-term value of each customer to your business. By offering a B2B ecommerce solution, your business is adapting to the change in buyer behaviour and cultivating customer relationships that will last a long time.

Cost Per Order: This is how much it costs your business to process an order. The traditional methods of ordering such as telephone, fax or in person purchasing are usually much more expensive as they often need more human interaction or are more prone to error. The cost per order of your customers who use your B2B ecommerce platform should me much cheaper than customers using traditional methods.

Time To Purchase: This is the amount of time it takes a customer to place an order, from start to finish. Your B2B ecommerce platform should be head and shoulders above your other methods of ordering when it comes to time to purchase.

In the landscape of Business-to-Business (B2B) transactions, the traditional ordering process has long been the cornerstone of ecommerce. However, despite its familiarity and historical prevalence, it's essential to recognize and address the inherent flaws that persist within these systems. As we delve into the intricacies of traditional B2B ordering, a clear need for a paradigm shift emerges.

  1. Manual Processes and InefficienciesTraditional B2B ordering often relies heavily on manual processes, including phone calls, emails, and paperwork. These methods are not only time-consuming but also prone to errors, leading to delays and misunderstandings between parties. In today's fast-paced business environment, such inefficiencies can hinder competitiveness and impede growth.

  1. Limited Visibility and Transparency: Traditional ordering systems lack real-time visibility and transparency into inventory levels, order statuses, and pricing. This lack of insight can result in overstocking or stockouts, missed sales opportunities, and disputes over pricing or delivery terms. Without access to accurate and up-to-date information, businesses struggle to make informed decisions and adapt to market dynamics effectively.

  1. Fragmented Communication Channels: Communication between buyers and sellers in traditional B2B ordering often occurs through disparate channels, including phone calls, emails, and fax. This fragmentation can lead to miscommunication, misunderstandings, and delays in order processing. Additionally, tracking conversations and maintaining a centralized record of interactions becomes challenging, hindering accountability and collaboration.

  1. Limited Scalability and Flexibility: Traditional B2B ordering systems are often rigid and difficult to scale or customize according to evolving business needs. This lack of flexibility can constrain innovation and hinder the adoption of new technologies or business models. As companies strive to adapt to changing market demands and consumer expectations, the limitations of traditional ordering systems become increasingly apparent.

  1. High Costs and Low ROI: Maintaining and operating traditional B2B ordering systems can incur significant costs, including labour expenses, paper-based documentation, and IT infrastructure maintenance. Despite these investments, the return on investment (ROI) may be limited due to inefficiencies, errors, and missed opportunities inherent in these systems. As businesses seek to optimize their operations and improve profitability, the cost-effectiveness of traditional ordering processes comes under scrutiny.

  1. Security and Compliance Risks: Traditional B2B ordering systems may pose security and compliance risks, particularly concerning data privacy, payment processing, and regulatory requirements. Without robust cybersecurity measures and adherence to industry standards, businesses are vulnerable to data breaches, fraud, and legal liabilities. Addressing these risks becomes paramount in an increasingly interconnected and regulated business environment.

In conclusion, the flaws inherent in traditional B2B ordering systems underscore the need for a fundamental re-evaluation of how businesses conduct transactions and manage their supply chains. Embracing digital transformation initiatives, adopting integrated e-commerce platforms, and leveraging emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain can empower businesses to overcome these challenges and thrive in the modern marketplace. By embracing innovation and reimagining B2B ordering processes, businesses can unlock new opportunities for growth, efficiency, and competitiveness in an ever-evolving landscape.

Offering digital ordering to trade customers is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Convenience: Digital trade provides convenience to trade customers by allowing them to place orders anytime, anywhere, without the constraints of traditional business hours. They can place orders from their office, job site, or even on the go using their smartphones or computers.
  2. Efficiency: Digital trade ordering streamlines the ordering process, reducing the time and effort required for both the customer and the supplier. Customers can quickly browse products, check availability, and place orders without the need for lengthy phone calls or emails. This efficiency can lead to increased order frequency and larger order sizes.
  3. AccuracyManual order entry can lead to errors, such as incorrect product codes, quantities, or delivery dates. Digital ordering systems can help minimize these errors by providing customers with real-time product information, pricing, and inventory levels. This can improve order accuracy and reduce the likelihood of disputes or returns.
  4. Inventory Management: Digital ordering systems can integrate with inventory management software, allowing suppliers to track stock levels in real-time and optimize their inventory levels accordingly. This helps ensure that trade customers have access to the products they need when they need them, minimizing stockouts and backorders.
  5. Customer Satisfaction: Offering digital ordering demonstrates a commitment to customer service and satisfaction. Trade customers appreciate suppliers who make it easy for them to do business, and providing a user-friendly digital ordering platform can enhance the overall customer experience.
  6. Competitive Advantage: In today's digital age, many businesses expect the convenience of digital ordering as standard. By offering this service, suppliers can gain a competitive advantage over those who rely solely on traditional ordering methods. It can attract new customers and retain existing ones who value the convenience and efficiency of digital ordering.

In summary, offering digital ordering to trade customers is important because it improves convenience, efficiency, accuracy, inventory management, customer satisfaction, and provides a competitive edge in the market.

Mobile ordering is the hottest new trend in wholesaling. Several STL clients have selected the SwiftCloud smartphone-based ordering app. to offer customers greater purchasing convenience.

man-with-handheld-device-300pxIn response, we have modified our software to work seamlessly with SwiftCloud, enabling your customer orders to flow directly into your sales order, warehouse and merchandise management systems.

SwiftCloud smartphone ordering app.

In response to increasing demand, STL has integrated its solutions seamlessly with the SwiftCloud smartphone ordering app.

SwiftCloud allows you to receive sales orders in real time from your customers via a mobile app.

Orders can be displayed on the in-built sales reporting tool. Alternatively, if you have a STL delivered solution, your customers’ orders can flow seamlessly and immediately to your back-end STL Sales Order Processing (SOP) system – which itself can also run on RF mobile picking devices for speedy fulfilment.

Further, SwiftCloud allows you to target customers with promotions and special offers to increase loyalty and intelligently manage stock.

It also enables you to broadcast messages to customers, and collate customer feedback via SwiftChat to improve customer retention.

Mike Hughes meets two firms working under the same roof – the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre at the University of Huddersfield – in two very different areas of cutting – edge technology.

Simon Iwaniszak

First, Simon Iwaniszak of Red Kite Games. I was particularly interested when the Sinclair ZX Spectrum was briefly reborn recently, because mine is still on the shelf in my old bedroom at my parents’ home – next to the ZX81.

Getting the ZX81 was a big day for me, with its 1k powerhouse, all you had to do was persuade mum she could watch Emmerdale later, plug it in to the telly and v-e-r-y slowly battle aliens, or whatever it was the ZX81 persuaded you it could take on.

Its successor, the Spectrum, was a stratospheric leap forward, with its soft-touch keys and rainbow stripe across the bottom right of the keyboard – it was the future in my hands. Fast forward (something the ZX81 could never do) a few decades and Simon Iwaniszak is bringing me up to date.

His profile on LinkedIn describes him as ‘managing director at Red Kite Games Limited & entrepreneur’, which sounds like a BQ sort of combination. He has been working in the industry for close to ten years now, starting with a degree in interactive systems and video game design from Bradford University and then joining a games company called Rockstar.

For the non-gamer, Rockstar is about as good as it gets, with the global sensation Grand Theft Auto behind it as well as other chart-topping titles like Red Dead Revolver and Max Payne. “I spent seven years there, learning my trade and working with some great people designing games like the GTA franchise. Getting that experience has been a crucial element of Red Kite’s success and has probably helped attract clients to come and work with us now,” says Iwaniszak.

“I had always had the idea that I would set up my own company, even before I got my interest in gaming. I have quite a big family and some of them are entrepreneurial by nature, so I have always appreciated the challenge of going after something yourself.

“But I didn’t want to just come straight out of university and start a company. I wanted to look around and get some experience.”

That experience could have taken him in a completely different direction, given that he was a player with Oldham Athletic before being released and turning his attention to his other great interest – gaming.

The genesis of Red Kite shows Iwaniszak’s thoughtful and considered approach to setting up as an entrepreneur. No panic, no arrogance, just a balanced strategy: Decide the sector, get the degree, select the right company to start with and then pick the time to leave. But all driven by a confidence that the level of skill and the USP he would be bringing to the table was sufficient to make a mark in the sector.

“I will always see a job through, so I wanted to leave Rockstar in between projects. Not wait for another one to start and then get caught in a two or three year cycle with them.

“A few people had left Rockstar to set up on their own and I could see what they were up to and wanted to do the same. I was clear that I wanted to build my own team and develop my own games, and that has worked well for more than three years now, with gradual expansion to a team of eight people.

“We started when there were four of us, simply by connecting up VPN connections remotely, all working from our homes, through a server I had at my house. Then we got our first contract on a ‘Call of Duty’ title for Activision (the world’s first independent developer and distributor of console games) and agreed we had the resources to get ourselves our first office.”

The Activision deal then extended to a game which Red Kite handled on its own, Pitfall Krave, as part of a promotion for Kellogg’s and the considered approach continued to pay off for Iwaniszak. The blueprint at Red Kite (the name is nothing too obscure – it’s a pub in Wakefield where the team used to discuss working together)  is to work with its own core team and bring in other staff when needed, from Iwaniszak’s extensive contacts. That way his vision is kept under close control and the tap of freelance talent can be turned on and off as projects grow and the workload increases.

“We have the foundation now to take a few more risks internally, but I never wanted to just throw a snowball into Hell and hope it was going to survive. I had a methodical approach to taking those risks, but building relationships and knowledge as we grew.

“We have ambition to expand – perhaps to around the 15-staff mark – which will bring its own responsibilties. But I see sleepless nights as part of a boss’s  job and it was something I was very aware of when I started.

“I am very transparent with the staff and involve them in everything we do. There has never been any funding needed for the company, it has been largely from my own savings, but it is very much their company.”

He is now passing on some of that philosophy  back to the university, mentoring students for eight hours a week, mirroring the effect that his first boss, Gordon Hall of Rockstar, had on him as a guide and advisor.

The success of agile games ventures like Red Kite is helping Yorkshire gain a reputation as the home of a games cluster, with sole trader businesses mixing smoothly with big operations like Rockstar Leeds. Iwaniszak describes the close relationship as a family, with little competition and plenty of collaboration. It’s a reminder of how powerful smaller companies can be when they work together.

Entrepreneurs like Simon Iwaniszak have to have self-belief and a vision, but he is showing that it helps to be part of a multi-player game when you want to hit the high scores.

And also at 3M Buckley Innovation Centre, James Clarkson is building an impressive business to add to an impressive CV.

Entrepreneuers will easily associate themselves with the well-worn metaphor of a swan on a pond – organised and calm on the surface, but under the water the legs are working away at full speed, forcing their way through debris and clutter.

James Clarkson has got the swan part of that sorted – even after opting for a 75% pay cut to follow the dream of running his own company.

Being an entrepreneur sits well with him. He was hugely experienced before he set out on his own and that brings a calmness to our conversation – but all the time those feet are paddling fast.

Clarkson, 42, runs Adventoris, a four-year-old tech firm that has just released its first major product. There is investment behind the set-up which recognises the experience of Clarkson and co-founder Tim Longton, but this is still new territory. The new product is SwiftCloud, a mobile-friendly B2B platform that handles stock and orders.

Stock is all displayed online, customers click what they want, orders are processed and replacement stock fills the space. “If you have lots of companies sending in orders by fax or email, you need people to handle those enquiries and key orders in all day,” Clarkson tells me.

“The Swiftcloud software uploads  all the stock so your customers have built-in barcode technology to scan what they need more of and the orders gets sent straight through to the supplier.”

From SMEs not wanting to take on another member of staff to larger groups dealing with hundreds of orders a day, it’s easy to see the appeal. There is also great value in data capture, with individually-tailored offers if you haven’t ordered a particular line for a while and instinctive re-ordering reminders for regular items. Pretty smooth for a Huddersfield lad, whose track record is impressive.

“I studied economics at York and then went to work as a chartered accountant at KPMG in Huddersfield. I qualified there on the Thursday and went into industry on the Friday at a building products firm where I stayed for six years. Then I was group FD with a food manufacturing business for two years until we sold it to Kerry Foods.

Then it was on to Ultralase for two years – again as group FD – and then a building services group in Brighouse called CP Group.” He was at CP Group for six years before selling it in 2011 and completing a 20-year career in finance. Money (tick), success (tick).  Job done, you would think.

“The genesis of Adventuris  came while I was with CP Group,”he says. “We bought a tile business out of administration which had been dealing with a lot of small firms around the UK. There, a customer would ask for a set of tiles for his kitchen, the shop would ring us to check availability, then put the phone down, take the order from the customer and then ring us back to order them.

“I had been out for a run along the canal at Brighouse and the idea for SwiftCloud came to me. But the recession was hitting and as an SME, we just didn’t have the resources, so the idea stayed where it was.”

Clarkson will readily recommend running for any entrepreneur, because it was after another session that the other lightbulb went on and the option of launching SwiftCloud as part of a standalone company started to take shape.

“That was the genesis moment – in the shower at Brighouse. Tim and I started putting some investment together and Peter Armitage of Key Capital Partners liked what we were doing and put us in touch with some VC contacts. Eventually we had £600,000 behind us in the initial round and moved to the 3M BIC.” So, not the usual path for an entrepreneur.

With all that success behind him, money was not a motivation for James, and he tells me that being his own boss isn’t the main driver either. He just has belief in his product and wants to prove himself – again.

 

“The safety net has been removed and there have been times when I have been driving home and I’ve thought of having a cushy corporate job on a decent whack with big bonuses – and I have literally had a warm glow in my stomach.

”But I love what I’m doing and I’m passionate about our product… but I look forward to the day when we can get a bit more security in there.” With two young children and Mrs Clarkson taking a part-time job, the pressure is on, but so far James’s belief seems to be marketable.

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