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Ecommerce Data as Dynamic as Business Change

Business is dynamic and changing. So are B2B ecommerce needs.

Manufacturers and distributors have dynamic business models. Change is a constant as mergers and acquisitions, changing customer expectations, and new product launches drive growth in ecommerce. These dynamics extend beyond product information to customer contract terms and even customer experience. As businesses add channels, the opportunities and challenges multiply.

The secret to success in B2B ecommerce? A schema as dynamic as the business.

Jump ahead:

Product Information and Contract Terms are Dynamic

Product attribution is widely understood in ecommerce. It provides the specifications and data to create a great customer experience that aids B2B buyers in finding the right products.

An ecommerce attribution data model must extend beyond product to contract terms in B2B ecommerce.

Distributors' and manufacturers' business models have complex customer sales contracts. Legacy agreements often are individual to the account and driven by sales pressures to win the business on customers’ terms. The data model in B2B ecommerce must account for unlimited variables of contract terms, which can be configured and applied to accounts and segments.

Dynamic Businesses, Meet a Dynamic Schema

To address changing and dynamic business models, Znode has a dynamic schema native to the platform.

Wait, ecommerce databases are not dynamic. Database administrators and developers are required to make changes to a database once designed. Znode’s ecommerce database schema does not, it is dynamic eliminating merchandisers' reliance on developers to change the database and create APIs or extend the platform. This saves time and money while improving speed to market in a dynamic business world.

The schema allows ecommerce teams to add attributes to the data through the administration console. When an attribute is created, an API endpoint is automatically extended. Welcome to the dynamic schema for B2B ecommerce.

Dynamic Ecommerce Attribution: Applying the EAV Model to Ecommerce

Entity Attribute Value (EAV) models are common in enterprise business software, including product information management (PIM) systems. An EAV model allows business users to create a data entity, corresponding attributes for that entity, and the values that make up that attribute. Znode’s dynamic ecommerce database schema utilizes the AV from the EAV model and applies it to specific ecommerce entities in the platform.

In Znode, non-technical ecommerce teams can create attributes. Values can be associated with attributes creating the typical product - attribute - value structure that is well-known in ecommerce, i.e., T-shirt - Size - Medium. An entity’s attributes directly impact that entity's role in the transactional customer experience. When product information changes, a company is acquired, or a new product line is created, the dynamic ecommerce database schema enables the ecommerce team to move fast and adjust to the dynamic business needs.

Znode applies this dynamic ecommerce database schema and EAV concept beyond the product catalog allowing for greater personalization and configuration within the platform and less dependency on custom development. This is a sustainable approach to managing costs, increasing speed-to-market, and adjusting for the dynamics of business. The following are the different types of attributes that can be applied to Znode entities:

  • Global attributes: serve as the container for custom data points that can be created and assigned to various entities (stores, accounts, and users) allowing for the creation of permissions and management of data by administrators and even customers where appropriate.
  • Product attributes: the building blocks of the product data model, contain information about products for use by customers when searching for products, administrators when organizing and merchandising products, and Znode for dynamic product recommendations.
  • Category attributes: Znode features many default category attributes for those getting started. Administrators can easily create custom attributes to be used during the category creation process.
  • Media attributes: primarily system defined when media assets are uploaded to the media library. However, administrators can create custom media attributes that can be associated, like metadata, to media assets for quick identification and usage throughout the content management system (CMS).

Ready to find an ecommerce platform to align to a B2B business model? Download Znode’s B2B ecommerce RFP template.

The Opposite Story: Traditions are Hard to Break

The alternative is a traditional approach to managing ecommerce and dynamic business models. The business changes and developers are hired to change the database and customize the platform. Of course, this takes time and money. Not terribly dynamic.

This traditional approach has long-term implications. Changing the core database in any ecommerce platform and writing custom code creates upgrade nightmares as new software versions are released and older versions are sunset.

Dynamic just came to a dead stop.

Business Model Alignment in Znode

The flexibility to align multiple business models with Znode’s ecommerce database schema allows many different use cases to be supported. Here are just a few Znode customer examples of the platform’s dynamic ecommerce database schema in action:

  • Bradley Corporation utilized media attributes to identify technical data sheet files and CAD drawings, then associated those media files with products for display on the product display page (PDP).
  • Drew Shoe utilized Znode’s native PIM system and product attribution to enable PDP filtering of complex products for utilization across multiple storefronts. Product attributes included combinations of color, size, width, and more.
  • Ariat created user and account global attributes to link Znode users to its ERP system records.
  • School Uniforms by Tommy Hilfiger created over 700 hundred catalogs by a school, a program, grade, gender, and more and associated those catalogs via a single storefront.
  • Summit Group created numerous store global attributes to show/hide items on the storefront and to change labels on the storefront as it creates custom promotional product storefronts for customers.

Replicate Other Business System’s Data Models

When utilizing Znode’s dynamic ecommerce database schema capabilities, administrators can replicate existing business system database attributes and values. As long as data is passed from the business systems, whether an ERP, CRM, third-party PIM, etc., there is no need to change the Znode API to receive the data.

Configured Products from Simple to Complex

Selling complex products online requires significant data to be available and digestible to prospects and customers. Whether classifying product dimension values, adding supporting documentation such as installation guides, or managing color options, ecommerce attribution allows customers to consume the entire breadth of a product offering. Znode’s PIM system allows for creating and managing unlimited product attributes utilizing dynamic schema.

Find Products Across Categories via Any Attribute

When B2B buyers land on category list pages (CLPs), the type of ecommerce attribution data shared for product identification will be considerably different than the product display page (PDP). The level of flexibility to create category attributes should not be any less dynamic than product attributes. Whether B2B buyers are searching by price, product fit, or inventory availability, facilitating needed data for product list consolidation and identification improves the customer experience and conversion rate.

Request a Demo to Learn How Znode Solves Dynamic B2B Ecommerce Challenges.

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