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Future-Proof your B2B eCommerce Strategy
Jorgen Bach: Hello, good morning, good afternoon and welcome to this webinar with Forrester and TricorBraun Flex. My name is Jorgen Bach, and I'm the CEO of Dynamicweb, North America. I have the pleasure of being your host today. With me on the call is Joe Cicman. Hey, Joe, how are you?
Joe Cicman: Hey, Jorgen, great. How's your day going?
Jorgen Bach: Good. It's perfect. I'm down here in Redondo Beach, California, and as you know, the weather is always beautiful here in California, so that's great. Where are you dialing in from today?
Joe Cicman: I'm in Ohio and the sky is blue, and it's a wonderful day.
Jorgen Bach: Oh, nice. I love Ohio. That's great. All right. So, Joe is connecting here and representing Forrester. He's a Senior Analyst. Joe did an amazing white paper that about B2B e-commerce, future proofing your B2B commerce that inspired a lot of us here at Dynamicweb, because a lot of the things resonated really with the way we do business and the advice that we're giving our customers. So that's one of the reasons why Joe is here today. Joe will do a piece in the beginning here, and I'm looking forward to it. So welcome, Joe.
Jorgen Bach: Just a little bit later, we will have Mike Mead and Ryan Burnham joined with video as well. Mike is from TricorBraun Flex. He's heading up the Digital and E-commerce space at TricorBraun Flex. And he will give us some valuable insights of the B2B space and how to build a success within the flexible packaging industry. Ryan is our customer success manager and he'd work very closely with Mike in this journey here.
Jorgen Bach: And so, I think that's the crew. That's the webinar. And we definitely look forward to going through these three topics here today. First, Joe, to cover how to future proof, your B2B e-commerce. Then, Mike from TricorBraun Flex, that will cover again how they built their success. And I will finish up towards the end. And giving a little pitch on how we at Dynamicweb, our product vision supports some of the issues that we will be discussing through this webinar here. So with that said, welcome all. And I'd like to hand it over to Joe.
Joe Cicman: Hi, everyone. I hope you and your families are staying safe and comfortable. And thanks for taking time today to hear about how you can future proof your B2B e-commerce strategy. We're going to talk about this in three parts: First, I'll put some context around B2B e-commerce, then will take some time to talk about the pace of doing it and then I'll identify some of the benefits of e-commerce suite.
Joe Cicman: So let's get going. In 2019 85 percent of executives held the view that digital was a nice to have and this helped them get the sleep at night. But, by this time last year, those 85 percent heard the COVID wake up call, every hour of every day and even still today. It was more than just about adjusting to work at home. It was about taking care of customers who couldn't leave their home. And it was about the competitors who were able to take care of those customers where they were.
Joe Cicman: For years now, Forrester has been writing about how B2B buyers are behaving more and more like consumers every day. And some of this is generational preferences of the millennials. 73 percent of millennials in the workforce are involved in purchasing decisions. But it's not all limited to millennials. The boomer CFO is now designing and ordering her new convertible online without ever visiting a dealer showroom. Any way you slice it, you are increasingly selling to buyers with consumer grade digital preferences and there are levying those expectations on you.
Joe Cicman: But they still need you to be there in person, so to speak. They still have complex problems and they need experts to help them identify the right solution. The biennial Forester study, the biannual study the forester does on B2B buying indicates that 42 percent of total B2B sales go through the vendor sales rep. Why? Well, because many products aren't fit for pure digital selling, buyers have complicated pains that require complex solution and review from buying committees.
Joe Cicman: Well, that study also indicated that another 42 percent of total B2B sales go through a combination of repossesses e-commerce and self-service e-commerce. In fact, more than 30 percent of B2B technology buyers already make their initial purchases through a digital channel. So does Forrester expect these ratios to hold or continue trending? Well, to answer that question for your business. We have a model that you can use right now.
Joe Cicman: Most businesses offer a range of products that address a range of business problems. Use this grid to segment your product portfolio. On the horizontal axis is the complexity of your customer's buying process. So if one field tech can buy one replacement part, that's low complexity, but if your buyer needs to get support from her peers, approval from her upline manager and the go ahead from the governance committee, well that's high complexity. The vertical axis is complexity of the product. And another way you can think about this is, is the inverse of the amount of knowledge the buyer requires.
Joe Cicman: So what's interesting about this one is, this one is affected by the particular individual buyer that you're working with. Then once your products around the metrics overlay these four boxes, the way you see them here, these are your selling motions that will apply to your customers buying motion. This will tell you the ratios you can expect for your business. And with some user research and journey design, you can build self-service e-commerce experiences that handle what used to require some assistance and reps.
Joe Cicman: Offering your customers all of these methods to buy is what's called omni channel selling strategy. It combines the best of the online and offline world, and it's the key to building a future proof e-commerce strategy. That was a strategy component. Now we're going to talk about the common pains in B2B e-commerce and what you can do about them.
Joe Cicman: You're looking at the formula behind Forrester's CX Index and using this model, we estimated the total business impact for a firm that improves its CX Index score by one point. And we do this for 18 industries. It quantifies the business benefit of having a loyal customer. It calculates the potential revenue from improved retention, enrichment, and advocacy loyalty.
Joe Cicman: Getting customer experience right leads to loyalty, which is retention, enrichment, and advocacy. And that drives business growth. Getting the customer experience wrong makes things go in the other way, and that translates not only the pain for you, but it translates the pain for your customer as well. Friction leads to mistakes, delays, and decreased purchase confidence that erodes loyalty.
Joe Cicman: And keep in mind, you see your customer is jobs and you know how you react, maybe just internally when suppliers let you down or make things harder than they need to be. One specific pain that we'll explore now is the friction that results from gaps in your product data. These gaps constrain search and they don't convert, they annoy buyers by wasting the time and ultimately, customer loyalty suffers. Branding manufacturers need to: One, look to reuse and animise their current content library. So many, many factors have product brochures and case studies in PDF format. But to realize the full benefits of digital selling, they need to beef up their content marketing engines and break down that content into its smallest components so that it can be reused or remixed in new and different ways.
Joe Cicman: And two, they need to get creative about enriching high priority product content. When brand manufacturers syndicate out incomplete or non atomised then otherwise imperfect product content, they are externalizing in duplicating costs across their entire distribution network. And that's a bad thing.
Joe Cicman: But the strategy for fixing this problem depends. It depends on where your business participates in the value chain and it depends on the willingness of your partners. Some manufacturers tell Forrester that they can't share clean data with their distributors, because they don't have a single source of truth. They don't have a PIN system. And distributors tell Forrester that they need help capturing and harmonizing the data from all the manufacturers they resell.
Joe Cicman: And even if the data is clean, it might take work to be rationalised. So this is things like category names and product specifications. So imagine how many ways you see into expressed, IN, IN., that double quote all that more has to get rationalised in order for search to work optimally, distributors use PIMs to capture clean and rationalise product data before they publish it to their e-commerce site.
Joe Cicman: Then, when the product data on your site is clean, it allows buyers to easily research, select, and purchase from you. It lowers your cost to serve them so you can focus more on acquisition of customers that buy more from you and remain your customers, tell their peers good things about you and help you avoid needing to replace them.
Joe Cicman: So we covered strategy and we covered some common pain points. Now let's talk a little bit about where you should invest. So, first a reminder, that B2B consumer we talked about earlier has four expectations of the experience that they have with your business. They expect to be treated as partners through experiences that are increasingly connected, open, intuitive and immediate. So are these concepts completely unfamiliar to any sales pro? No. But Forrester breaks them down this way so you can apply them to the digital experiences you create, to engage customers across any channel, direct or indirect.
Joe Cicman: I think this quote sums it up nicely. The best enterprise marketing today is embracing digital at scale to do what great salespeople have always done, personalise their engagement and offer a great experience. So with your bias expectations in mind, let's look at where to invest. So three things. First, hire experienced e-commerce experts with a background in consumer e-commerce. They bring a sensibility that you need to do the primary research of what buyers want and whether you're delivering on it.
Joe Cicman: Second, invest in adopting design thinking and integrate those practices into the way you imagine, validate and deliver digital experiences throughout the entire customer journey. And third, build all of this on robust and adaptable platforms. Digital first, go to market strategies, require new operating models. And this is what future set B2B sellers are now incorporating into their businesses. But those robust and adaptable technology platforms can get complex and they could be challenging for your teams to assemble.
Joe Cicman: Commerce suites, however, allow you to sidestep the work of building and maintaining your own platform. There's a lot of vendor content out there on the Internet talking about flexibility and how it can enable you to do anything you want. While that's true, sometimes you just want to buy a great car, not build a great car. And that brings us to what's best fit for you. Forrester has an assessment to help businesses gauge their level of digital maturity. And when we cross-reference that with our research on the e commerce vendor offerings, we find that suites, all in one packages, are best fit for businesses early in their digital transformation. Why? Because those businesses rarely have hundreds of modern cloud native developers. Modern suites pre integrate their components so that you can focus on a post COVID world and devote your attention to realign for the current times.
Jorgen Bach: All right, thank you, Joe. I really appreciated that insight interesting and great recap of the white paper that you were the co-author of as well. And, yes , really interesting. And I was thinking about the question when you were covering your slides here. What is your recommendation for creating a true omnichannel experience when working through a distribution channel with dealerships, for instance? I think that would represent a lot of the audience here on the call. So distribution, wholesale, dealerships that, that whole set up, if you want to do a and omnichannel where you make sure all your touch points with the customer online, self-service, portals, but even with sales reps out in the market, hopefully when the world opens up again here soon, do you have any recommendation for the audience here?
Joe Cicman: Yes . What I would say- so, this is a great question. Before you get too deeply embedded into the technology, I would say, take a look at all of the agreements that you have in place with all those channel partners. One of the things that you're going to be looking for is, channel conflict or potential channel conflict, as you overlay digital, and really getting that sort of getting the agreement basis in place before you overlay the technology is going to save you a lot of fits and starts.
Joe Cicman: And so, as an example, you could clean up the jurisdictional rights for resell. You could clean up the rights for some of them to sell on marketplaces as an example, which, frankly, if one rogue seller sells on a marketplace and discounts or even makes a mistake, you could set this spiral all the way down, like race to the bottom on pricing. So you want to be able to avoid that. That way, everyone in your network is making the money that they can make. And then I would say, spend time studying how that network functions, like how goods flow and spend time also on-
Jorgen Bach: Network, is it your distribution network, is that what you are thinking, sorry to cut you off?
Joe Cicman: Yes , that's a technical network. But the actual distribution network, the flow of goods. And then when dealing with dealers or even, reps or buyers at the distributors understand, what a day in their life looks like. So if you're a manufacturer, realize that you're one of many manufacturers and if you are a distributor, realize that you have many manufacturers to work with and those manufacturers have many distributor. Very often what you'll find, especially when you get down to dealers, you're going to find some pain point in their day to day lives that you would not have understood just if you were looking at how to implement software. So when you understand those pain points, that will tell you the right way to implement the technology that you have. And again, it will save you a lot of with fits and starts and you'll get the adoption that you really need for that tech to payoff.
Jorgen Bach: Good. I like that. That's a good perspective. Yes , you mentioned the channel conflict that opens up a whole new can of questions with me. But I think I'll save them for later and I also see a few questions coming in from the audience. We'll take them just a little bit later here, we have Mike Mead TricorBraun waiting here. So want to get him in. But really, truly. Thank you, Joe. Great insight. I will take some questions for you later. Thanks for now.
Jorgen Bach: And now it's time to turn to Mike Mead from TricorBraun Flex and my colleague Ryan Burnham, who is heading up our Customer Success at Dynamicweb. They will offer some really valuable insights and real life best practice experience into building an e-commerce success for a wholesaler in the flexible packaging industry. So thanks for joining us, Mike and Ryan.
Mike Mead: Thank you.
Jorgen Bach: Thank you.
Ryan Burnham: Thanks, Jorgen. So what we're going to do today is we'll take you through on our side- Mike will take us through the experience of implementing e-commerce at TricorBraun Flex and I have some questions for him. So my role at Dynamicweb is basically working with our customers like Mike and trying to better leverage the platform and to see that success that we've seen here at TricorBraun and we're really excited to talk to you about it. So take it away, Mike.
Mike Mead: Thanks, Jorgen. Thanks, Ryan. Just again, a quick introduction. My name is Mike Mead. I'm Digital and E-Commerce Manager for TricorBraun Flex, which is the flexible packaging division of TricorBraun. Just some background on TricorBraun, we're the largest distributor of primary packaging within North America. Our focus and products are glass, plastic bottles, and jars, pumps, sprayers, wine bottles, spirit bottles. But my responsibilities are primarily within the flexible packaging division. So our focus is more specifically on flexible packaging bags, pouches. We sell two different types of products. We sell a stock product and we sell a custom printed product for the purposes of the discussion today we'll focus on the stock product and our interaction in partnership with Dynamicweb.
Mike Mead: So just some history on TricorBraun Flex. We were previously known as Pacific Bag. We were acquired in 2019 by TricorBraun as part of their effort to diversify outside of rigid packaging and into flexible packaging, which was a strong and growing market at the time and continues to be and sort of complements rigid packaging as well. Our acquisition was one of two actually. So TricorBraun Flex is actually comprised of the US and a Canadian division. I represent the US division, although I oversee websites and some digital assets in Canada as well. But the vast majority of our E-Commerce initiatives and efforts are within the US. So TricorBraun Flex US is based out of Woodinville, Washington. We've got about a 35, 36 year history of supplying innovative flexible packaging solutions to coffee and tea, specialty food, the pet market and agriculture. Up until 2015 the vast majority of the sales that we were doing were generated through our inside and outside sales teams. And our customer base generally tends to be small and mid-sized businesses. We're pretty strong again in, coffee, tea, specialty foods, agriculture and pet markets.
Mike Mead: So going back to 2015, which was prior to our acquisition by TricorBraun, Pacific Bag had sort of built and implemented its first iteration of an e-commerce system which was all done, supported, built in-house with internal resources. And despite some skepticism about the potential and its relative chunkiness of, say, the first iteration actually did prove to be a success for us, provided us with some empirical evidence that self-service e-commerce was not only something that could work for us, but that the transition within flexible packaging was already underway.
Mike Mead: So in 2016, I was brought in from a competing flexible packaging firm that was more focused on custom printed packaging solutions versus the stock packaging solutions at TricorBraun Flex in the initiative that we were moving forward with, with e-commerce. And at the time, we were basically thinking that we had sort of proven an e-commerce model in that the future was sort of bright for that and that there was additional investment was essentially warranted in required really if we were going to scale that into the business.
Mike Mead: So one of the issues that we were kind of running into was that there was zero ERP integration with our first iteration of our e-commerce system. So every order that came in essentially was having to be manually re-keyed. And a lot of the features that are kind of critical to our business-to-business customer base, just weren't there.
Mike Mead: My first order of business was essentially to assist in finding not only a platform, but a partner that was capable of smoothing out some of the bumps that we had in our first e-commerce system, primarily just lack of ERP integration. So more specifically, our business-to-business customer base has access to special pricing. So prior to dynamic web coming in and helping us to solve some of these issues, customers had to call in and deal with an inside sales rep, deal with an outside sales rep, one of those two reps would then essentially have to access that special pricing, put together the sales order.
Mike Mead: What we were looking to do was sort of integrate more tightly with the ERP, giving the customer the ability to do a lot of those things on their own. Special pricing isn't necessarily uniform from one customer to another. It can be unique. It could be one customer may have a discount on one product. One customer may have discounts on a whole line of products. So there's a whole sort of spectrum of discounting that happens within our customer base. And so the solution for us needed to sort of solve for some of those problems and customers needed to be able to see those discounts without having that interaction with our inside and outside sales teams.
Ryan Burnham: So, Mike, when you had before you implemented and you worked on implementing Dynamicweb in the past solution that was in place, that formerly specific bag. What was the level of customer adoption of that platform? I know you talked about how a good part of it, but still they had to go through inside and outside sales, but what would you say was the adoption level of customers who were ordering at that point online in 2015, 2016?
Mike Mead: I would say it was fairly low, but, in the eyes of the upper management, there were enough persistent people that were willing to adopt what was then a pretty cumbersome system that it did prove its worth, essentially it proved that it did have legs, that there was an opportunity given the right amount of investment of time and money, that that could really grow. There was opportunities to sort of smooth out and find efficiencies within our inside and outside sales team, essentially taking some of that responsibility of manually rekeying orders and dealing with customers, not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but taking some of those responsibilities out of their hands and essentially tasking them with what they are in place to do, which is sell and grow relationships with sales organisation.
Ryan Burnham: So basically putting the focus back on that essentially and just finding efficiencies and ways to weed out and automate some of the processes that at that time they were manually doing, if that makes sense?
Mike Mead: Yes , for sure, and I think that's part of what I've seen, too, from my role as selling e-commerce is a lot of the pushback you often get, especially from outside and inside sales is, well, we're doing this job. We are selling. And it's always having to like you said, it's changing that mindset to, you can build relationships, you can sell more. If you give the customer the tool to just go in and gear in their own orders, you take away a lot of the manual work that you're doing. And so, it's really important, I think, that there was, at least from the Specific Bag and TricoBraun Flex management that you had that buy in because you could see that that investment was already paying dividends.
Mike Mead: It was. And there were some fear interpretation that we were going to turn our inside sales and outside sales team into a giant robot that just took orders. But it was actually quite the opposite. So, those people have a tremendous amount of knowledge and a tremendous amount of skill and it allowed them to sort of focus and refocus on what it is that they do best, which is, again, curate those relationships and do more consultative selling rather than, again, some of the mundane tasks of re-keying orders and just order entry. So a real win in terms of efficiency on that end.
Ryan Burnham: Thanks.
Mike Mead: So some of the other issues that we were kind of solving for shipping was also a complication for us at the time. Again, our first iteration of e-commerce had sort of a zoned shipping solution, which at the time worked, but relative to what our competitors were doing and relative to the constraints of that e-commerce system, it was kind of complicated. Again, being a business-to-business focus, that being the base of our customers, we really needed something, a solution that was a little bit more flexible, allowing us to sort of solve for some of the issues that that our customers were presenting us with. Some of our customers prior to making that shift over, had pre-negotiated, inclusive shipping costs at different thresholds. So one customer would be getting shipping included or delivered pricing at one price point, others were at another price point. In our first iteration of e-commerce, just didn't have a way to solve for that issue. So, again, just another one of the issues that we were looking for a solution.
Mike Mead: Last of which we were sort of looking for a system and a partner that would give us the tools to empower our marketing team. We're a small organization, so we have some technical, some non-technical internal resources to help us manage our e-commerce system. And so our move from our first iteration to the next iteration really needed to give us sort of a powerful CMS, the ability for internal marketing staff to do the product merchandising, the onsite promotions, and really manage a lot of that day-to-day task work without the need for outside technical resources.
Mike Mead: The ability to access customer data and preferences and sort of sort it, and make marketing decisions based upon it, and just sort of the general ability to pivot and adjust to changing customer preferences without reliance on technical resources inside and outside of TricorBraun Flex.
Ryan Burnham: Yes , it definitely makes it a lot easier to bring on resources internally, like you said, on your team and marketing, rather than having to look for someone who's a developer while also being a marketer. It really pigeonholes you?
Mike Mead: Right. Exactly. And, again, as we were transitioning away from our home baked ecommerce system, if you will, it was a real eye opener because there was a really heavy reliance. And while we had the technical resources internally to sort of tackle some of the things that I've just talked about. It was a real pain. Things happened a lot slower. We were slower to react and really sort of pigeonholing some of the growth potential that we had within our customer base with e-commerce.
Ryan Burnham: Awesome!
Mike Mead: So following an in-depth discovery and development phase with Dynamicweb, we ultimately ended up going live November 23rd, 2017 despite some nerves and skepticism, it actually went very, very smooth. The first phase, if you look at sort of our rollout of Dynamicweb and our really concentrated focus on growth of e-commerce, it was sort of done in two different phases. The first phase of the rollout was try to find buy in from existing customers who are already utilizing other channels to buy products from TricorBraun Flex.
Mike Mead: So customers that were calling in had relationships with inside sales reps, people that were using email and believe it or not, people still order with us by fax. The idea was sort of to get some of those customers change that preference and really sort of refocus them and just make them aware that some of the features of dynamic web and some of the things that were relevant to their particular account were now available in the self-service type of model, rather than having to rely on somebody that was in an office between the hours of 8:00 and 5:00, it was informing customers that all those features, that special pricing, shipping agreements, all of those sorts of things were now available directly from the site that they didn't need to rely necessarily on an inside salesperson to be placing orders, essentially.
Ryan Burnham: I think what's helpful there too and correct me if I'm wrong, Mike, what you implemented as part of this was also the potential for salespeople to use the site in impersonating to you. So that I think in my experience anyway, what I've seen is it tends to help when, let's say I go visit a customer or if I'm even on the phone with them, if I'm able to use the exact same tools as them, it makes it a lot easier to speak the same language and to walk them through it. And then if I can share my screen with them and go through the sales portal, create an order for them, and then they get the email, they look at this as well, okay, I can do this, why don't I just do this myself? And then we can have an actual conversation with the salesperson rather than just having them enter it in order for us.
Mike Mead: Right, exactly. The impersonation feature of Dynamicweb is one that we make use of every single day. So during that first phase of rollout, a big part of that was facilitating sort of that transition and being able to get a customer on the phone. And if you had a customer that was challenged with doing one task or another, that Dynamicweb basically gave us our internal folks, the inside and outside salespeople, the ability to sort of walk a customer through, which is huge. As you know and most anybody knows, when you get non-technical customer types walking them through, some of that stuff can be a challenge.
Mike Mead: So a lot of the features that are built in and baked into the Dynamicweb platform made it extremely easy for us to make that transition and really kind of grow that first phase of rollout and enroll us into kind of the second phase, which was, essentially trying to focus more new customer acquisition. So incremental increases in ad spend and SEO efforts on site and off, our goal then was essentially to sort of increase that market share within the stock packaging business.
Mike Mead: So the results kind of speak for themselves. I'm not a huge visual guy, but these visuals definitely have a real story to tell, particularly as it relates to 2020. I mean, out of the whole we expected that there was going to be quite a bit of growth and it just based on the feature rich environment of Dynamicweb that we were going to get a shot in the arm and that e-commerce was going to take a jump first and perhaps the second year.
Mike Mead: Where we were a little uncertain was in 2020. Obviously, the uncertainty with COVID-19, our inside sales team moved to home offices, our outside sales team was staying home. Despite those two things, we were pretty prepared for the shift in buying behavior, really. I mean, we had made that investment. The dynamic web platform was tested, proven, was continuing to grow. And we were just in the end, just kind of well positioned. And so we're fortunate in one way, but part of that was just being well prepared and having done the groundwork up front.
Mike Mead: And so, in the end, we ended up seeing 45 percent to 61 percent year-over-year. And in 2021 it's looking like that trend is going to continue. So order volume also continuing on that same trajectory. Percentages are a little bit different, but overall the trend is very positive. The volume of orders that we're taking over the phone and by email and by fax continue to sort of fall. And the numbers that we're seeing from the site are continuing to increase.
Mike Mead: So, again, the plans that we put forth initially when we took on the project are really starting to pay dividends now. So, the Dynamicweb platform in and of itself has been huge. It's given us the tools kind of required to meet the needs of our customers and changing customer preferences as a whole.
Ryan Burnham: And so, Mike, I mean, this was something that I think really blew me away when we had the conversation, I think around the summer of last year. Right in the middle of the pandemic we have no idea where things are going. And I mean, we're over a year in now. And having seen the numbers that you all saw during 2020, I think I was astonished because we had some customers who had a very difficult time. We had other customers like TricorBraun that had a really good time because like you said, that investment was there. What do you see as long term effects of the pandemic? Do you see that shifting the business more digitally or what do you see exactly?
Mike Mead: For sure? Absolutely. We we happen to be well prepared for that transition. We weren't necessarily preparing for it. I don't think anybody was. But with that being said, I just don't see that transition going back. In fact, I see it kind of accelerating, really that, that sort of self-service model. And when it really, as it relates to packaging in business, the business environments has tended to accelerate and our numbers support that. We were well prepared. Like I said, we weren't preparing for a pandemic, per se, but the fact that we were prepared just positioned us really well relative to some of our competitors. And so that kind of continues to be part of our plan. We're going to continue to invest in e-commerce and it's going to become a core tenet of our business strategy.
Ryan Burnham: And how would you characterise how e-commerce and the digital aspect of the business of TricorBraun Flex has given you an edge or not over your competition? How is the competitive landscape for you?
Mike Mead: Well, we were well positioned going into COVID-19. So obviously it paid dividends for us. I think a lot of our competitors who were not now are in a position where they're having to play catch up. And that's just the way it is. It played well in our hands, but it did not play well in the hands of some of our competitors.
Ryan Burnham: All right, thank you, everybody, for your time. And thank you, Mike, especially for taking the time to put together the presentation and talk to us all about how this is gone. And so I'll pass it back to Jorgen.
Jorgen Bach: Thanks to Mike and to Ryan for providing these valuable insights and lessons learned from a real life success. And lost part of this webinar here, I'll take a brief moment to share what we at Dynamicweb believe is a great solution behind a scalable e-commerce strategy. And first, for those of you who does know, Dynamicweb, this is us. And we started out in Denmark in 1999, so more than 20 years ago. And since we have opened up in more than eight countries where more than two hundred employees, more than three hundred partners worldwide. And we have more than 4000 thousand customers using our application on a daily basis, and number of sites coming out of that.
Jorgen Bach: So that's just very, very brief about Dynamicweb. And it's not the purpose of this webinar per se. So if you want to know more about us, you give us a holler. So what I really want to talk about here is Dynamicweb's product fashion over the last decade or so has been to support our customers getting rid of the Frankenstack monster. That's the monster that tends to sneak in everywhere. And much like the monster in the movie, A Frankenstack is the patchwork of software in your organization. And, even when you select best of breed software, they're not optimized to work together efficiently.
Jorgen Bach: And this is truly a costly monster in many organizations. And think about it in this day and age, it's so easy to just download a new low cost email subscription service or a new e-commerce car stand alone, that's quick to drum up or maybe even, let's quickly drum up a website that does X, Y or C for us.
Jorgen Bach: But when you add all the cost and risk involved in that approach, the total cost of ownership often becomes much higher. Just consider the integration cost between the various application, it also take you longer to respond to market requests, market needs because you have to work through various systems. Think about the security issues, the whole compliance, and for each application that needs to work with another application to receive or provide data that opens up a whole security layer of threats that you need to consider.
Jorgen Bach: And then, of course, you know, over the years, all this code here and upgrading different applications at different times, that whole slew becomes really expensive to maintain. It's called the technical code. So that's also worth considering when you are implementing a lot of different applications to support your enterprise business. So please be aware of the Frankenstack.
Jorgen Bach: Now, at Dynamicweb, we offer a different solution here to this problem. Our product vision is more the, all in one approach, the all in one suite, the best of suite, so to speak. And we believe an amazing e-commerce experience is best done with an integrated approach and integrated with the data and business logic from ERP and CRM. We believe a great e-commerce experience rely on rich product data that can be published out to any relevant data, any relevant channel like Amazon to just name the big gorilla, but also other CPMs or third party marketplaces or to your dealerships or distribution or even print. So the whole notion of having good product data, as Joe was talking about earlier here in the webinar.
Jorgen Bach: We also believe that our customers' behavior on a website, just the content management side, should be used when they're on the e-commerce side and an email marketing campaigns, we call all of that micro conversions, their actions, their behavior that's important to personalized an amazing customer journey for them. So, you know guys, if you share some of these beliefs, reach out to us and let's talk more.
Jorgen Bach: All right. That's what we plan to cover here today. But before we end, we have left some time for questions and we've got a few questions coming in here. I hope we can- some of them are bigger questions, but definitely have two here that I circled out that I want to and pose to Joe, from Forrester. So, Joe, the first question is, what is your view on using artificial intelligence and a typical bot services to assist buyers when they're doing stuff online? The question is related to how mature and available are these features here in the beginning of 2021 for a mid-market e-merchant. What's your opinion on where that stands? I think that's the gist of the question.
Joe Cicman: Yes . Where I would encourage you to focus on, make sure that you actually do assist buyers and that there's not just a feature that you put on a website and then tick a box for something that you rolled out.
Jorgen Bach: We've got a chat bot.
Joe Cicman: That's really important. Now, I'd say, that's sort of things to think about, so that's testing. And the other thing to keep in mind is artificial intelligence and machine learning. That's a method of programming, that's a method of building experiences where you don't instructively program it, you train it. And so one way to think about this is, how would you train a new agent, a new rep? What content would you give them? What heuristics? What sort of tricks and tips would you give them? That will be how similarly, you would train your bot. And so you have to keep up with, you have to constantly monitor to make sure that they are doing the right thing, because if you make a mistake, you're actually making the mistake at scale.
Joe Cicman: And so, very similar to what we talked about with the distributor network, spend time actually validating, internally with beta customers or periodically checking in that the bots and ML is actually assisting as opposed to just being present.
Jorgen Bach: Right. So you would say the AI services delivered from some of the bigger tech companies, Microsoft, Adobe, Amazon and all of that, is that mature enough to take advantage of for a mid-market player without having to spend thousands of hours getting it right and getting it installed on the B2B e-commerce space?
Joe Cicman: Yes . What I would encourage you is that the tech with AI and ML sort of comes in layers. And if you engage the tech at two lower layer, it could be actually really challenging. If you engage the tech through some other layer that is more specific to your domain, you're actually relying on some of those vendors to do some of the heavier lifting for you, so that you can, so that you can just sort of pick up and layer on top what makes you special as opposed to what makes your domain different than another domain or industry.
Jorgen Bach: Right. Okay. Good. Yes , I like that. Good advice here. So the second question I have here is from what looks to be a distribution company. What is your advice on getting started developing a unified commerce experience?
Joe Cicman: Yes . So unified across all your touchpoint, very similar to what we talked about segmenting your products earlier, you can also segment your customers and as you're distributing, if you're in multi tier distribution, I would say, look at your. Make sure that you understand your direct customer and that may be another distributor or reseller. And then also how understanding their customer, so you may be going several layers down. Just the act of empathizing with a day in our life will pay pretty tremendous dividends because you'll be making the right technology investment as opposed to just making technology investment.
Joe Cicman: And not only will you do the right thing and avoid having to redo, but doing the right thing actually encourages adoption. And so you don't make this right.
Jorgen Bach: All right. Well, thanks for that advice, Joe. I appreciate it. I guess let this only here to thank you from Forrester for great insights and also thank Mike from TricorBraun Flex and Ryan here, who went through the B2B e-commerce case, best practice from the real life. And then, of course, thanks to all of you guys who took the time out today to listen to us. And we truly appreciate your time. Thank you.