E-commerce isn't just another IT project, according to Bob Lewis of B2X Partners in 'Digital Branch' Strategy Drives AD eContent. It must involve installing the right software and infrastructure, hiring the right staff, building up the inventory (content), establishing marketing and training plans – all the things a distributor would undertake when opening a physical branch.
"As we begin to talk about this as a 'digital branch,' we begin to see a light bulb go off (with distributors) and they say, 'Ah, now I get it,'" Lewis says. "It also helps them to better understand what's going to be involved from an effort and investment perspective when they start thinking about it this way versus viewing it as simply standing up a website."
B2X Partners helped buying and marketing group AD, Wayne, PA, develop its e-commerce services, which became available for its industrial division in January and launches in early December for its electrical and plumbing, PVF and HVAC (PHCP) divisions.
The program gives members that digital branch that Lewis says is critical for distributors to compete as customer buying trends shift and national companies deploy large teams to attribute content in hopes of bolstering their e-commerce capabilities.
"You get a good platform at a very cost-effective price," Lewis says. "You get content at a very cost-effective price. Then it's up to the distributors – and that's why we push the notion of the digital branch – to recognize the fact that it's not those alone but those in the context of a well-thought-out plan and a well-executed plan that are going to make you successful."
Read more about AD's e-commerce program and strategies for developing a website in 'Digital Branch' Strategy Drives AD eContent.