Because most of our customers have a heavy seasonal influence on their business, we often have to operate within small windows of time when working with them. That could mean setting up a new showroom for one of our clients between seasons, helping create a new product catalog, or even completely implementing and deploying the system for a new customer before they head out to a trade show.
As a brand gets larger and starts hiring more employees with dedicated roles, the small windows of time can become less of a factor because they have fewer hats to wear and can focus on bigger projects. However, for smaller brands that have single employees running multiple parts of the business, it can create a time crunch between seasons. It also tends to produce the comment “we don’t have time to implement this right now because we’re so busy getting ready for the season.” Which always leads me to ask a few questions:
In our experience, there is no “perfect” time to implement a new system. There are always going to be other projects that you have to deal with. Having said that, there are some important considerations to make which can help make you feel better about making the change.
Unlike many software packages you might be familiar with, you don’t need to roll out Envoy B2B all at once. You can set a few simple goals and start there. For example, you could get all of your reps to transition to showing your catalogs on an iPad, iPhone, or other mobile device. Alternately, you could set a goal of having half of your customers place their orders digitally by next season. These are large goals, to be sure, but they are achievable.
Another approach to a phased rollout is to identify your largest wholesale hurdles and focus on using Envoy B2B to solve those problems first. For example, if your biggest problem is processing orders manually (time sink and error prone), we can help you set up the platform to handle orders digitally. This will free up the most time and effort for you and your team. Or, if your biggest issue is manually editing and updating all of your print catalogs, we can help you set up your digital presentations so that they are always up to date for your reps.
In other words, a good wholesale B2B system allows you to grow into it. Over time your brand will grow and become more advanced and Envoy will grow with you, but you don’t have to start with the Rolls Royce rollout. In fact, we encourage our customers to slowly adopt the platform for just this reason. And Envoy has been designed to allow features to be turned off and on according to client needs.
A good B2B provider should take on a lot of the work and not expect you to be the expert in B2B rollout. We’re the experts on this and do it all the time. Let us handle it while you concentrate on your business. Just get us the right resources (product information, images, etc) and we’ll get down to work. We think you’ll find that you’ve been overestimating the time commitment we’ll need from you.
Lead times and rollout schedules vary widely in the wholesale B2B world. Many B2B systems average 10-12 weeks for implementation. Why does it take so long? Well, there’s two ways to look at it: 1) The system is overly complex and not easy to use, so it takes a long time to get stood up. Or 2) It doesn’t take that long, you’re just in a very long line and they’re spread too thin. Or both. Either way, you may want to consider if this is your best option.
A standard Envoy implementation takes 4-6 weeks, maximum. In fact, when rolling out Envoy standalone or Envoy with one of our turnkey integrations, we’d be hard pressed to make it take longer than 4 weeks. The only time it may take long is if we’re building out a custom integration or implementing every feature in phase 1. Keep in mind that we walk you through the entire process and handle the heavy lifting, which frees you up to continue to work on your other internal projects.
If you examine why you’re too busy to implement a B2B system, you may find that a lot of your time is being spent on tasks that a B2B system would take care of. Think about manually keying in orders. Or constantly wrangling sales reps and checking in on their performance. Or, as we mentioned above, updating a bunch of print materials when products or prices change.
The truth is, if tasks like these are eating up a large portion of your time, you’ll have a hard time solving your problem of being too busy without implementing a good B2B system. Spend 4-6 weeks being a little busier and you’ll free up multiple hours each day after that. This will allow you to spend your time doing much more productive tasks than manual data entry and catalog management.
We can’t tell you the exact right time of the month or year to purchase and implement a B2B system. After all, every business has its own challenges and seasonal swings. But what we can tell you is that it’s likely going to be much less of an undertaking that you expect. And having gone through the process, you’ll find yourself in a much better position to face all the other challenges of your business.
By: Tom Rau
Envoy B2B is a wholesale content and eCommerce platform for your entire team. Our tools and services are designed to help you create dynamic content, increase your speed of sale, and bring you closer to your retailers. Envoy B2B provides the technology you need to empower your sales reps and support your retail channel.