Defining Your Balance Of Control In B2B eCommerce

Control + responsibility in B2B eCommerce

How much control (and responsibility) do you want over your B2B eCommerce stack?

Manufacturers have a limited number of choices when it comes to eCommerce management models. At a high level, all options fall into three categories:

  • Homegrown
  • Unmanaged solution
  • Managed solution

Each type of solution offers its own balance of control/responsibility. As Uncle Ben told Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility”–and that’s definitely true of B2B eCommerce management. 

For manufacturers, the question is: What balance of control/responsibility do you want over your B2B eCommerce technology? 

There are 3 high-level areas where you’ll need to make a choice between retaining control and giving control to a trusted partner. Here are those areas, and the considerations which go into each decision. 

1. Customer interaction (best to retain control)

Obviously, you should retain control of your customer interaction as much as possible. You should never let anything get between you and your customer. Every aspect of your customer experience offers a chance to build trust and value (or undermine both). That means you should strive to maintain full control of:

  • Branding
  • Merchandising
  • Personalization
  • Ease of use
  • The transaction itself

Each model (homegrown, unmanaged, managed) allows you to retain control of your customer interaction.

2. Complex business rules (best to retain control)

If your customers can’t reliably interact with your business rules (like contract pricing, SKU substitutions, delivery rules, etc.) in your B2B eCommerce platform, you’ve got a problem. 

Since SAP business rules are the lifeblood of manufacturers’ transactions, it stands to reason that you should never abdicate control of those business rules to other partners and platforms. You’ve already invested in your SAP ERP system, and it’s the source of “One True Truth” for every aspect of your business and your customer relationships.

A real problem arises when you introduce middleware to the B2B eCommerce scenario. Now you’ve got two more systems (middleware and eCommerce) which will need to conform to your business rules. 

Unfortunately, an architecture like this generally requires duplicating all of those business rules in both places. This creates 3 separate systems where the same data must be updated, and it also introduces more potential failure points which can lead to abandoned transactions.

Now here’s a bit of a paradox.

In a B2B eCommerce scenario, the best way to retain full control of your business rules is to choose a platform that integrates directly to SAP, in real time, without middleware.

This is the Corevist way.

Because Corevist Commerce includes prebuilt, real-time SAP integration, it acts as a window into your SAP system. All of your relevant SAP business rules take effect in the web store in real time (including user-personalized rules like contract pricing and ATP availability).

Personalized B2B Ecommerce - Corevist Commerce

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We designed Corevist this way on purpose because manufacturers shouldn’t have to abdicate control of their business rules to other partners and platforms.

On that note, here’s how each model will handle your SAP business rules:

  • Homegrown—You retain full control of your business rules, including the entire scope of integration, which may become unmanageable (see below).
  • Unmanaged solution—You abdicate control of your business rules to partners and platforms (e.g. middleware and eCommerce) which will duplicate them and thus introduce failure points in the critical path of your customer experience.
  • Managed solution—You retain control of your business rules without having to duplicate them in other systems. If the solution includes direct SAP integration, as Corevist does, your IT team can update rules in SAP and see those changes reflected immediately in the eCommerce customer experience.

3. Keeping your SAP integration up and running (difficult to control in-house)

You should absolutely retain control of your customer experience and your business rules. But that’s exactly where homegrown solutions and unmanaged solutions may run into problems: checking both those boxes successfully requires a workhorse integration to SAP ERP. And if you choose to manage that integration in-house, you take on all sorts of burdens which don’t add value to the customer.

In fact, a working SAP eCommerce integration requires 42 integration points in 9 areas to create a workable customer experience for dealers & distributors:

  1. Accounts receivable (5 integration points)
  2. Product availability (1 integration point)
  3. Order creation (2 integration points)
  4. Order change (1 integration point)
  5. Customer master data (9 integration points)
  6. Material master data (2 integration points)
  7. Order tracking (4 integration points)
  8. Technical objects (8 integration points)
  9. Auxiliary (10 integration points)

For details on our 42 integration points, check out our whitepaper, How We Launch Corevist In 90 Days.

The Takeaway: Define your balance of control

In 10+ years working with manufacturers running SAP, we’ve learned that most organizations can justify retaining control of #1 and #2. However, we believe that manufacturers take on unjustifiable risk when seeking control of #3. 

That’s why Corevist Commerce is designed to offer manufacturers the right balance of control and responsibility—one that will allow manufacturers to focus on their business and their customers. Corevist offers:

  • Full control of the customer interaction, UX, branding, merchandising, etc.
  • Full control of business rules with no duplication.
  • No responsibility for SAP integration (and its massive complexities) due to our prebuilt, configurable integration.

Moving forward: FREE case study

Want to see what this balance of control looks like in real life? Download this case study on Mannington Mills. You’ll learn how Mannington leveraged Corevist Commerce to retain control of customer experience and business rules while leaving integration to a trusted partner.

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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.