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So, you want your customers to do business online. Now what?

Articles |
A handy guide to budgeting before building a unified online B2B experience.

Looking to improve customer experience in 2021? You’re not alone. Many companies rank an improved customer experience at or near the top of their priority lists. The optimization takes plenty of time (and budget—more on that in a moment) to accomplish. It’s a challenging journey.

If you’ve landed on this page, you’re likely convinced the customer experience is mission-critical work, and you’re not under any illusions that it will be simple. You might have a vision defined for the experience you want to create for your customers. The next question leadership might ask is, of course, the big one: what’s this going to cost?

We tackle this question all the time. And the answer is (you’re gonna love this) it depends.

However, it’s safe to say that it’ll probably cost more than you think. Particularly in a large enterprise with the complexity often found in robust manufacturing environments—many SKUs, configurable products, technical customer personas and a complex go to market model. You’ll need to bring multiple new technologies into the architecture and get them connected to deliver that seamless customer experience you’re dreaming about.

For those all-important budgeting conversations, we tell clients to plan their budgets across a few key areas:

Software Vendor Licensing
To achieve your vision, bringing new systems into your current architecture can fill gaps beautifully. Things like PIM, CMS, eCommerce, Marketing Automation, OMS, Punchout, the list goes on. In today’s SaaS world, these are typically annual contracts you will negotiate and account for monthly over multi-year terms.
What to expect: anywhere from $50K to 80K of year per software.

Software Vendor Implementation Fees
Depending on the software and complexity to implement, the vendors themselves may be involved in its implementation and integration. Plan for these project-based fees.
What to expect: if your vendor requires it, budget up to $50K per software.

Outside Services to Launch
In most cases, our clients use an outside partner to lead and execute the many phases and projects that bring customer experience to life. This spans all chosen technologies and works to connect new systems and core back office foundations like CRM, ERP and PLM. Our recommendation: selecting fewer partners that can deliver work across technology platforms will save you time, money and headaches as compared to having a specialized partner for each.
What to expect: anywhere from $400K to $1.2M per phase/technology.

Post-Launch Operations
Don’t forget this part! Think of it like space flight. The launch isn’t when the mission ends. It’s when it begins.

Make ongoing enhancements to the experience you’ve built while you work to grow adoption and conversion. You might be able to use existing business processes and teams. But in most cases, you’ll define and hire new roles (or engage new partners) in ongoing retainer work to operate new channels and handle demand.
What to expect: $50K to $100K per month for ongoing services, plus additional headcount costs.

Bottom Line?
The cost is significant, and it doesn’t end when the new experience launches. It’s daunting enough to convince leadership to spend on a digital overhaul, and that prospect gets even trickier when it comes time to maintain and improve it. The fear they feel is understandable; it’s easy to see a project like this and focus solely on the cost.

But make no mistake: the returns are astounding. An optimized and connected customer experience is what dishes out the largest piece of market share pie—especially in industries (looking at you, manufacturing) that are generally dragging their feet. It’s up to you to manage a comprehensive view of all of it and to sell the vision to your leadership team.

Also, it should now be noted, you do not have to tackle this monumental task alone. It’s in our DNA at Shift7 to help companies like yours, and we’ll be here if you want a dedicated, experienced partner to bring your customer experience vision to life.

You can learn more about what we do here. But whatever you do, be sure to tackle strategic roadmap work while it’s top-of-mind. It minimizes risk, improves return and is the critical first step in getting a clear view of all the phases and the overall plan to have a customer experience you can be proud of.

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