Ah, the perfect order…
Oracle NetSuite has a great whitepaper that examines this topic from a B2C perspective (and corroborates our belief that the ERP system is key to the perfect order). Really, “the perfect order” isn’t a new concept. Over the years, I’ve talked about “the perfect order” many times with prospects, clients, and my team. It’s an industry term—one of those zero-defect, nirvana-like concepts. But what does it actually mean—particularly in SAP B2B ecommerce? Talk to various players in the industry, and you’ll see that different people are looking for different things in their version of perfection.
Can you meet all those demands to create an order that’s perfect for every party involved?
(Hint: If not, I wouldn’t be writing this post, would I? 😊 )
Yes, you can. But first off, we need to understand all the perspectives involved. If you’re an industrial manufacturer, what does the perfect order mean to you? And does your customer define it the same way?
How industrial manufacturers define the perfect order
If you’re an industrial manufacturer, from an order entry perspective, your perfect order is one that goes into SAP without a hitch. In other words, it’s an order that doesn’t require you to call the customer back to seek clarification. That basically rules out EDI, faxes, and emails from ever being able to produce perfect orders.
That’s a big hidden secret in many B2B ecommerce websites—they can’t even come close to that perfect order. So many errors are possible when you don’t have a real-time integration to SAP. These look like:
- The SKU ordered has been retired from the SAP Material Master.
- The delivery address doesn’t exist.
- The order was placed by someone who was on credit block.
- Product is ordered when there is no inventory available.
- Product is ordered in non-shippable quantities.
- Product is ordered without all of the associated products that are required to get the main product working.
When an order comes in with these kinds of errors, your CSR (customer service representative) is forced to reach back out to the customer. That’s friction, time, energy, and effort.
Oh, I forgot to mention. It pisses the customer off.
How your customer defines the perfect order
The customer’s definition is pretty simple. “The perfect order happens when I get what I want, when I want it, in the quantity I requested, at the price I expected.”
The customer thinks, “Unless you tell me there are extenuating circumstances—you’re out of stock, there’s a shipping delay, my credit balance needs to be addressed—I’ll get it tomorrow, right?”
Now, every industry has different baseline expectations. In some market, those expectations might be “in by 5PM, out by 9AM next morning.” In other markets, that might look like a 2-week gap between order placement and order delivery.
Whatever the specifics of your industry, a baseline expectation exists. You need to know what it is, because it’s critical to your customer’s definition of the perfect order.
The perfect order that satisfies both parties
In our world—the SAP B2B market—the source of truth is the SAP ERP system. It’s where the master data lives. That data governs the elements which make a perfect order for each party.
The ERP knows everything. At least, it should. (If it doesn’t, that’s a different problem and you need to fix it as soon as possible.)
If the ERP system knows everything, and since Corevist Commerce integrates with SAP in real time, we remove a dangerous variable from the equation. We take out the possibility that the website displays something different from the ERP system.
That easily happens if the two contain different information, and/or they aren’t in sync. We take that out of the equation because we’re accessing SAP directly. That leaves the only possible source of error as master data issues in SAP. That’s the only thing that’s left between a manufacturer, where they are today, and being able to deliver the perfect order to their customers: Making sure everything is right in SAP. We guarantee that everything the customer sees on the website is 100% reflecting what’s in SAP. All messages, error warnings, and ecommerce data displayed in Corevist Commerce originate in your SAP system. Again, if the data is wrong, that’s another problem. But the whole reason you have an ERP system is to make sure everything is synced and centralized.
What does that mean for the perfect order?
It means we’ll guarantee the perfect order. No ifs, ands, or buts. Our app only places 100% error-free orders in SAP, and it does so without a human touch. That’s pretty amazing.
But how does this work in different markets, for different clients?
Based on our experience, I can say that every manufacturer has a different set of constraints around which they have to optimize. But every manufacturer is marching toward that perfect order in their own way.
It’s a delicate dance. You have to find a balance. You know the concerns. If you don’t carry enough inventory, and if there’s a long lead time for a product and the customer has an alternative, you’ve lost the sale. [link to ATP or inventory management] Yes—over time, you have to become more agile from a manufacturing and distribution perspective. You have to be able to sense market needs and upgrade your delivery capabilities so you can respond in a more timely fashion.
That looks different across different markets. But one thing is the same across all markets: You don’t want CSRs contacting customers on a normal basis to clarify the order! What a waste of time! Eliminate that on a normal basis, and you’ve achieved the perfect order. You’ve removed manual interventions. And the real-time SAP data in the web shop helps create the perfect order for your customer, too. It ensures they don’t inadvertently create friction or misunderstand what they’re getting into.
It’s a win-win situation.
Moving forward: Case study
Want to learn more about the Perfect B2B eCommerce Order and what it can mean for you? Download this case study to learn how Blount International launched eCommerce and began processing SAP-perfect orders in 90 days.