How to assess the real ROI of a legacy b2b eCommerce website

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Manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors considering modernising their b2b eCommerce websites will often use the comparison of return-on-investment when assessing the performance of legacy systems against a new platform. Most of the time, however, the true value of ROI is a challenge to work out because it involves reviewing many variables, rather than the simple calculation of: (revenue from new solution – revenue from legacy solution) x 100 / investment.

A broader assessment is required in order to provide more accurate and informative insights, and this should include closer inspection of the following areas…

System efficiency

A platform that automates the entire ordering process effectively, from product research to despatch, can deliver huge gains in efficiency. If your current system contains manual processes for pricing, ordering, stock management and customer communication, for example, you could be risking expensive errors and racking up unnecessary operating costs. These inefficiencies are difficult to factor into ROI calculations, but their impact on both turnover and margin can be significant.

Employee efficiency

In our experience, sales reps and customer services teams can operate far more efficiently if repetitive, day-to-day processes can be automated, such as simple, low ticket item reordering, answering price and inventory queries, or dealing with order tracking. This frees-up valuable time for team members to spend trying to increase order values, negotiate bigger deals, and go the extra mile to improve the customer experience to help secure long-term loyalty.

Optimising lifetime value

Business-to-business sellers often approach us because their existing eCommerce websites are failing to maintain sales revenues and retain customer loyalty. Poor eCommerce performance usually stems from a poor customer experience, where buyers have to jump through too many hoops to get the information they need or to make a purchase.

For example, we frequently see websites where buyers are unable to search their order history, or access personalised pricing, discounts and offers. Inadequacies such as these often arise from websites that are not properly integrated with business and accounting systems (such as Sage and Pegasus), which in turn can impact on customer engagement and lead to lower returns per customer and ultimately compromise customer lifetime value.

Technical failings

The technical capabilities or failings of an eCommerce platform also have a big impact on the volume of site traffic, bounce rates and order values. If customers and potential customers get frustrated, they will go elsewhere – for example, if they can’t easily find the products they’re looking for because of poorly designed navigation, if links are broken or pages fail to load. We advise b2b companies to check their site analytics for insights on overall site and individual page performance in order to understand which areas of the site are losing revenue and where improvements can be made in the future.

Maintaining competitive advantage

Our experience with a wide range of b2b sellers highlights the challenges of arriving at an accurate eCommerce ROI figure for legacy systems. However, it is clear that companies need to take a more wide-ranging view of their current system so that additional factors like those described here are taken into account. This holistic assessment will help to ensure that companies make timely, better-informed decisions about upgrading their eCommerce websites so that they are able to maintain competitive advantage and increase profitability.