Maturity – Foundation

Your results indicate you are in the Foundation Stage.


This is your first serious endeavor to drive eCommerce sales. In this phase, your eCommerce sales represent less than 10 percent of total revenue.


Vince Lombardi started out every season by holding up a game ball and slowly saying, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”


The foundation is the key to success. If you build your business on a strong foundation, then it will not fail. With the right foundation, all of our “DigitalBranch Secrets” will amplify what you do… without it, it won’t matter what you attempt, because your impact will not last long.


This is perhaps the most important phase, as it enables the rest of the phases to occur. In this phase, you will set the stage for your eCommerce growth by establishing a solid foundation to build upon.

Your primary goal is to finish the Foundation so you can move to true Adoption.  Most companies in this stage:

Don’t have a real plan and strategy
Need to ask who instead of what or how.  Many companies try to solve complex problems on their own, instead of asking “Who” can we hire or outsource to solve these problems.
Technology doesn’t solve anything, but technology is the foundation that will enable your future.  Do you have the right technology?  The right eCommerce platforms?  Is it integrated properly?  Can you produce your own content?
The X eCommerce System

We base the insights below on the X eCommerce System that covers planning, people, technology, product content, customer experience, analytics and operations for your Digital Branch.


We wrote a book about it to help you understand all these components.  You can get it for FREE:

Update Your Plan / Strategy

The plan is the business case and the roadmap you will use to build from. Spend time and effort to build a comprehensive strategic plan that encompasses each element of the system: people, technology, UX, analytics, product content, and operations.


If you are not sure where to start, check out this article on Building Your Strategy.

Understanding Customer Adoption vs. Customer Aquisition

Understanding the difference between Customer Acquisition and Customer Adoption is important.  Check out this video explaining the difference.

People: Building the Team

Build a Digital steering committee made up of at minimum a decision maker, IT leader, and business or marketing leader to provide governance and decision making in accordance with your plan.  Your steering committee will provide the business decisions needed at each stage of your project.


Your first order of duty is to appoint an eCommerce leader (your Digital manager).  You have a choice – hire or promote.  Since B2B eCommerce leaders are very difficult to find, you will most likely be teaching an eCommerce person your business, or teaching someone from your business eCommerce.  In our experience, the easiest thing to do is teach an eCommerce person your business.


Start filling in other roles (product, customer service, and site management) with internal resources or lower-risk hires.

Make sure you have the right Technology

Select and implement your eCommerce platform, CMS (content management system), analytics, and basic marketing or email automation tools. Your analytics tools should include basic Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Enhanced eCommerce (a plug-in for Google Analytics), user ID ERP integration, and on-site search tracking. Select and implement your PIM or optimize your current PIM. Most distributors find it easier to implement their PIM first before implementing their eCommerce solution. However, both should be selected together to assure that the solutions can be integrated together.

Check out our Technology Selection Resources

Product Content: Put a Product Content Program in Place

Product content will be the fuel for your eCommerce site. Who will be in charge of product content? This should be an internal person who understands your products.


Start the process by defining your taxonomy and attribution design.


Source your product data. How will you acquire your product data? Vendors are typically not the single source. Most distributors use a third-party (often offshore) source to acquire their product data. Start with your stock items and expand from there.


Where will you store your product data? Your ERP typically isn’t the ideal place to store product content. Most distributors use or implement a PIM to store, aggregate, normalize, and enrich their product content as the single source of truth.


Start building SKUs as well as rules and processes for content standards.


Check out our Product Content Resources here

Customer Experience

This is a critical stage for user experience. Take great care to design out a foundational user experience that helps your customers do their job easier.


The best way to start building your UX is to start journey mapping. Learn the process of journey mapping and incorporate this incredible tool into your UX process.


UX is typically done prior to implementing your eCommerce platform and is a great way to build your requirements with your selected partner.


Check out our Customer Experience Resources here.

Analytics and KPIs

Set up scorecards for executives and the Digital team. Establish customer-tracking analytics, on-site search, and product analytics reporting. Start by simply creating a scorecard based on the customer adoption or customer acquisition framework.

Check out our Analytics Resources here.

Marketing and Operations

Start “selling” the DigitalBranch internally, ensuring that sales, finance, and human resources are in alignment. Develop sales and marketing campaigns and materials. Build resource planning. Launch marketing campaigns (SEO, email marketing, webinars, and social media) as well as educational communications. Launch sales incentives for online sales.


Check out our Customer Adoption Resources here.