Why 85% Of B2B Firms Are Dissatisfied With Their Ecommerce Solution

Top 8 B2B Ecommerce Challenges

According to Gartner Research, only 15% of organizations believe their ecommerce initiative is contributing to their success. Penny Gillespie, Gartner Analyst and VP, put it this way: “Many companies are struggling with the basics. The number one mission is getting products properly priced and building responsiveness and relationships.”

In her presentation at IRCE, Gillespie went on to discuss how advanced technologies like AI, machine learning, and augmented reality will push B2B companies toward more seamless interaction with their customers.

Let’s be honest, there’s a disconnect here. Companies that are struggling with the basics aren’t even thinking about advanced technologies. Why would they? It’s not the lack of emerging technologies that are hamstringing B2B today. It’s a lack of basic functionality.

So what is that basic functionality? What does it take to get a minimally viable web channel up and running for a manufacturer?

Here’s our take on the 8 basics of functional B2B ecommerce.

I. 100% accurate, personalized pricing

Pricing is the bane of B2B ecommerce. B2B relationships are complex, and pricing rules tend to reflect that complexity. If your customers have personalized pricing specified in their contracts with you, the problem gets even trickier. How do you import all that pricing data into your B2B web portal—not only for launch day, but for every change to pricing that ever happens?

The solution: Real-time ERP integration

At Corevist, we solve this problem with our real-time SAP integration. Whatever pricing rules are applied to your customer in SAP, they’re applied in Corevist Commerce, too—automatically. Now you can maintain your pricing rules in one place (SAP) and rest assured that updates to contract pricing will appear in ecommerce, in real time.

II. Personalized catalog for each and every customer

For manufacturers and distributors with large catalogs, it may be infeasible to show every customer every product you sell. In fact, it might even violate your ERP business rules around sales area, geography, or market.

Rather than give every customer access to every SKU, you need a way to trim each product catalog to the set of SKUs that’s relevant to that customer. Before long, it becomes impossible to maintain these catalogs manually. Throw in the need for personalized pricing, and you’ve got a real nightmare.

The solution: Real-time ERP integration

At Corevist, we solve this problem by carrying your SAP business rules to the web portal. Whatever SKUs your customers are allowed to buy in SAP, those are the only SKUs they’ll see in Corevist Commerce. And there’s no need to maintain these business rules in two places. Corevist acts as a window into your SAP system, which means a change to these business rules is automatically reflected in Corevist Commerce, right away.

III. 100% accurate inventory/ATP calculations

“How much of Product A is in stock?”

We find that this is one of the top reasons customers come to the web portal. They want to know how much is available, right now.

Inventory data lives in SAP—including the ATP (available to promise) calculations which you run for each customer. Unless someone is manually updating your ecommerce store with ERP inventory data, night and day, you simply can’t display accurate inventory numbers. And if you want to alter that availability number with an ATP calculation, you’ll have to rebuild and maintain those complex rules in 2-3 places (ERP, middleware, and ecommerce).

The solution: Real-time ERP integration

At Corevist, we solve this problem by showing your SAP inventory data in real time in the web channel. Whatever business rules you have in SAP for inventory/ATP, that’s what our solution displays—including personalized ATP quantities for each and every customer.

IV. 100% accurate orders posted to the ERP in real time, hands-free

One of the great difficulties of B2B ecommerce is that most ecommerce platforms want to be the system of record. They want to “own” every aspect of your business data. They don’t want to share.

But manufacturers were using SAP ERP long before the ecommerce revolution. SAP ERP already “owns” business data, and it’s not giving it up.

That means every single ecommerce order has to get posted to the ERP system. There are only 3 ways to achieve that:

  1. Standalone ecommerce store with orders manually rekeyed into SAP (this is unscalable and inefficient for large order volumes)
  2. Standalone ecommerce store with middleware/batch updates to SAP (must maintain business rules in 2-3 places; higher risk of order errors)
  3. Real-time SAP integration which only posts 100% error-free orders to SAP.

You guessed it, #3 is how we do it in Corevist Commerce. Our solution queries SAP in real time to make sure an order is SAP-approved. If there’s a problem, we return an intelligent error message to the user so they can correct the error (discontinued/disallowed SKU, below minimum quantity, etc.). Corevist Commerce only accepts 100% SAP-ready orders, which means no order errors and no manual follow-up to keep things running smoothly.

V. Flexible assignment of multiple ship-to/sold-to IDs to ecommerce user

Who’s going to use your ecommerce store—and who are they buying for?

If you have sales reps, dealers, distributors, or any other kind of user buying on behalf of multiple customers, your web channel has to support that. It needs to be able to map each ecommerce user to the customer IDs associated with that user. Otherwise, your web channel will be useless for users who need to buy on behalf of multiple entities.

The solution: Real-time ERP integration

At Corevist, we solve this problem with our real-time SAP integration. Whatever sold-to/ship-tos are associated with the user in SAP, those are the accounts which they can service in the web channel. Our drop-down lists make it easy to choose the customer who your rep or dealer is serving. And if these assignments change regularly, never fear—the assignments update automatically in Corevist Commerce after you change them in SAP.

VI. Flexible payments that fit your business model

How do you get paid?

Whether it’s invoice, eCheck, ACH, credit card, PayPal, or some other method, you need a B2B ecommerce solution that supports your preferred payment methods.

At Corevist, we partner with Delego to provide this functionality to our clients.

VII. 100% accurate order status/tracking for all orders, regardless of channel

In B2B ecommerce, customers need more than just the ability to shop and buy. They also need order status, change order capabilities (if allowed by your business policies), and shipment tracking. Most B2B solutions provide all of this, with one notable exception: Without real-time ERP integration, your customers will only be able to see their ecommerce orders—not orders from all other channels.

The solution: Real-time ERP integration

Corevist Commerce handles this problem with real-time SAP data. Our customer portal shows total order history from SAP, including orders from ecommerce, phone, fax, email, and EDI. It also provides real-time shipping status from all major carriers.

VIII. 100% self-service account management

B2B ecommerce comes with all kinds of complexity. If your customers are paying by invoice, there’s a danger they’ll go over their credit limit if you don’t show them how much credit they have left. Without any visibility into their credit standing, and with no ability to pay down open invoices, your customers’ orders will need manual intervention from a CSR (customer service rep) to be processed.

Where do credit data and open invoices live? You guessed it…

The solution: Real-time ERP integration

Not every business wants to show credit limits, but for those that do, this is the way to do it. Since a customer’s credit standing is updated in real time in SAP, it only makes sense to use real-time SAP integration to show this data in the web channel. Corevist can show your customer their remaining credit in real time—and we also display a list of all open invoices. Your customer can select invoices to pay down, then make payments using your preferred payment method.

The Takeaway: Don’t let basic problems hold you back

If your current ecommerce solution is falling down on any of these points, it’s worth evaluating where you’re at today (and where you want to be). If you’re considering investing in a new ecommerce solution, check out our FREE B2B Ecommerce Platform Comparison Chart. We’ll take you through the top 10 B2B ecommerce platforms, point by point, so you can start building your short list of possible solutions.

Moving forward: FREE case study

Wondering what a thriving B2B ecommerce channel looks like in real life? Download this case study on Mannington Mills. You’ll learn how this manufacturer of flooring launched a Corevist Self Serve Ordering portal, then added a catalog with rich content and grew web sales 150%.

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FREE Case study: 150% Sales Growth with Rich Content

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About Author

George Anderson

George serves as Digital Marketing Manager. A blogger and journalist with a passion for B2B ecommerce, he has written for the Magento blog, Digitalcommerce360, Supply & Demand Chain Executive, ERPgenie, and others.