One of the world’s largest global medical technology companies with over 70,000 employees, Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) specializes in manufacturing and selling medical devices and instrument systems that help advance clinical therapy for patients and clinical processes for healthcare providers.

Dedicated to improving outcomes for patients by accelerating the process of medical discovery, diagnostics, and delivery of care, BD adheres to a strict standard of excellence in developing its technology, services, and solutions, a standard that extends to its intelligent customer experience.

“In today's world, customers’ expectations are exceedingly high, and every industry is trying to keep up with them,” said Venkat Shan, Director of Platforms Solutions & Services Enterprise Architecture & Design Governance Technology & Global Services at Becton Dickinson & Company. In his role, Shan is responsible for the enterprise roadmap, architecture, design, and governance for global commercial and digital marketing.

Within BD’s commitment to customer-centric service, Shan and his team recently worked to execute a customer-centric transformation of BD’s e-commerce capabilities, simplifying the customer journey from awareness to purchase to repurchase within online channels. These efforts have turned digital commerce into a profit driver at BD, including by using customer data insights to drive marketing efforts and deliver bottom-line growth.

As Shan recently explained while discussing BD’s e-commerce journey at SAP Sapphire & ASUG Annual Conference, integrating digital solutions with the company’s existing models, including SAP Commerce Cloud, which Shan calls “our mothership and the e-commerce engine,” resulted in simplified processes, significant time savings, and increased revenue.

Business Drivers for BD’s E-Commerce Transformation

B2B e-commerce, short for business-to-business electronic commerce, is on the rise, with approximately half of all the world’s companies purchasing products online through self-service transactions, including via vendor or partner websites and online marketplaces.

“Customer behavior is changing, and the competition is responding,” said Shan. “We needed to tap into that as an industry, as a business, as a life science customer, to be able to leverage that customer channel, which allows customers to have individual purchasing power and gain visibility as to where their purchases are in terms of delivery.”

For B2B e-commerce operations to succeed, a competitive set of products and SKUs (stock-keeping units) to sell them are non-negotiable; but “the other aspect of it is how you take it to the customer,” Shan explained.

To succeed in this respect, Shan needed to remain knowledgeable about the journey of Becton Dickinson’s customers and how their businesses navigate the process of purchasing products from his company. For the pre-purchase phase, he looked at the customer journey from a technology and marketing stack along four different fronts.

“Before customers think about purchasing, they want awareness,” he said. “They want to be able to do research into technical products. They want personalization for individual customers. And then they want some type of interaction if they need further guidance or support.”

To drive that combination of awareness, research, personalization, and interaction, Shan said that marketing is essential to giving customers purchasing power. Once customers had reached that point, BD needed to provide self-service capabilities and leverage their data to move them toward other products and SKUs, relevant to their industry or market, available in BD's portfolio.

“We wanted to be able to differentiate through unique customer experience, create business value, and establish market-driven data for our data-driven marketing staff,” he explained. “B2B e-commerce helped us improve our customer experience and improve our revenue as another medium and channel. Our industry is very competitive; if you’re not part of that competition, you’re going to lose the market share.”

Inside Project Galaxy

BD has been equipped with e-commerce capabilities in certain business units and regions as far back as 2005, and those capabilities became more holistic in 2010 with SAP Web Channel. In 2014, when BD moved into the on-premises version of SAP Hybris, a fully functional enterprise omnichannel commerce software, the company still felt that the platform catered most to the buying process but did not sufficiently emphasize the pre-purchase and post-purchase capabilities needed to make BD’s customer experience truly intelligent.

And so Shan and his team undertook Project Galaxy, taking a greenfield approach to customer experience and implementing the second version of SAP Commerce Cloud (CCv2), a more comprehensive commerce solution that supported back-office order management and advanced end-user shopping experiences. A public cloud offering on Microsoft Azure that featured increased self-service for operational tasks via a cloud portal, CCv2 was built on top of SAP Hybris; after initially implementing CCv2 1905 with a headless architecture, separating user interface from application logic, BD last year upgraded to the latest version.

Additionally, the SAP Commerce Cloud Accelerator—a ready-to-use web implementation template that allowed the company to jumpstart its implementation and build its e-commerce solution—was instrumental from a technical perspective. “It was a robust foundation for us to take and expand,” he said. “This technology was an important enabler for us.”

A Phased Approach

Completing this transformation required collaboration between business, technology, and marketing groups at BD, as well as a phased approach. First, BD focused on building a website capable of dynamically pulling customer data to drive an intelligent customer experience, then building out a product catalog, marketing attributes, and marketing automation, segmentation, and campaigns.

“We had different tools and technologies layered to achieve all this, many of them SAP products, as well as Adobe suites,” said Shan. “We took it to the next level, though we still have capabilities we want to deliver within the next seven years.”

The second phase involved incorporating customer self-service capabilities, equipping them to purchase products and personalizing the experience with specific offers based on previous purchases. One particular “game-changer,” according to Shan, was integrated electronic communication between BD’s procurement systems and its suppliers via a “punchout process” that allowed buyers to access suppliers’ online stores through their e-procurement system or ERP system without leaving their internal systems.

“We have embedded our e-commerce portal through layers to suppliers,” he explained. “If a hospital wants to go to the website and buy from preferred suppliers, the BD logo will be accessible to them, because we’ve engaged in pre-purchase agreements and set it up so that they can click on our logo, it takes them to the supplier’s site, with our e-commerce site built into it. They request all the products, we give them the price, it goes into their procurement system, and because it’s internal to the customer, they can approve it very quickly without purchase-order processes. They can just place the order.”

This punchout process also makes it easier for BD to fulfill the orders and provides visibility to the company in onboarding new customers who are not only buying through regular e-commerce channels but also through their supplier portals.

Given the frequency of acquisitions at BD over the last few years, it was important for the company to build a scalable e-commerce platform that could weather the complexity of facilitating order-to-cash logistics processes through one ERP system and selling products through another ERP until those systems could be merged.

“We made a very scalable, generic approach through API calls, which layered our capability,” Shan said. “Any time a new acquisition happens, and they’re ready to start selling, we need to do a little bit of integration work, and then they can get out there selling their products through our channels.”

BD implemented SAP Commerce Cloud with a headless architecture, enabling individual businesses to manage their content and data, while Shan’s team manages the e-commerce engine and ensures its functionality. “We have created a jigsaw puzzle in such a way that every layer can be scalable at any point in time, which was one of our key success factors,” he said.

How SAP Commerce Cloud 'Elevated the Experience'

From a content perspective, Shan said that individual business units and the marketing team at BD were invaluable in sharing their perspective on what customers needed and were looking for.

“We historically looked at giving people the capability to buy the products that we sell, but we didn’t look at the awareness, research, and marketing aspects of it,” Shan said. “I’d say that our transformation has not been a technology shift so much as a shift in how we sell and push our products from a marketing perspective.”

It’s about more than creating a website, he said: “E-commerce is an enabler, but the most important aspect of that enabler is how people perceive information, how they take that and move forward.”

For most of BD’s customers, including technology companies, quick navigation to the right products was more important than providing them with the ability to browse a product catalog. In the past, BD had too many micro-sites and websites housing its content, which made it more difficult for customers to navigate the platform.

“Too much information overload can take away the customer's viewpoint,” he said. “You have to have enough for them to absorb it, but if they want more, they have to be able to drill down. Messaging is important. Information overload is dangerous. We had to balance that out.”

BD’s e-commerce site is more intuitive, simplistic, and easy-to-use than ever before, and the mandate that customers should be able to navigate it without any training was crucial to the transformation project. “We were able to do strong business value creation which increased our customer loyalty and increased revenue, data-driven marketing increased traffic, and the differentiated experience we provided to our customers has allowed them to go through the procurement process on their websites, seamlessly so,” Shan said. In summary, “it elevated the experience.”

Change Management and Planning at BD

Reflecting on overall takeaways from BD’s e-commerce journey, Shan called the project a “great success” precisely because it was a collaborative effort involving stakeholders from various parts of the business. Planning, communication, and stakeholder management were all essential. “You can never go wrong with more planning; if you have the right plan and you have the right leaders to execute it, you know your battle is half-won,” Shan said.

“The other, bigger challenge is always change management, internally and externally,” he added. Ensuring all parties within his own organization were aligned through a steering committee and careful internal messaging made it more possible to then engage suppliers and get them on board with the project.

“If change is enabled from the inside, it becomes easy,” he said. “A well-thought-through, planned project and strong change management through stakeholder engagement are the two major keys to success.”

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