Categories: Growth Strategies


George Anderson


For some organizations, B2B ecommerce is the impossible dream. How do you get from phone, fax, and email orders to a world-class B2B ecommerce experience?

It gets even more challenging if you have complex business rules in your SAP ERP system.

Here at Corevist, we routinely help SAP companies move from no self-service to world-class B2B ecommerce that’s integrated to SAP. The key is recognizing where you’re at today—and charting an incremental course to get to your end goal.

What should that end-goal be?

Our clients choose to cover the entire customer journey with self-service capabilities.

Here are the 3 phases of B2B ecommerce maturity—PLUS what you can do at each phase to advance toward that end goal.

1. React

If you don’t offer any form of digital self-service, then you’re in the React phase of your journey to B2B ecommerce maturity. Any time customers need to inquire about a product, place or track an order, or look up an invoice, they have to work with a customer service representative.

When compared to peer organizations with sophisticated self-service capabilities, your company may be “hard to do business with.” You could say your customer experience hasn’t kept pace with the B2C world.

This may manifest in low customer satisfaction—or even customer attrition. When viewed from this perspective, the lack of self-service is actually a liability for the organization.

Believe it or not, lots of mid-market manufacturers are in this place. Historically, they haven’t needed self-service capabilities for customers. It’s only in recent years that B2B buyer expectations have shifted to demanding digital self-service.

Next steps

If you’re in the React phase, you should focus on incremental improvement while also laying the foundation for larger transformation. You can do this with a platform like Corevist Commerce, which allows you to launch with foundational capabilities for customer self-service, then upgrade to full-featured B2B ecommerce on the same platform when you’re ready.

In the React phase, here are the best areas to start making incremental improvements.

  • Automate your handling of sales orders with Corevist BuyBot (so customers can continue to use existing workflows, but you reduce your customer service burden)
  • Offer self-service tracking for orders, shipments, and invoices with a B2B customer portal (like Corevist Launch)

2. Improve

In the Improve phase, you have some form of self-service for B2B customers. You may have a customer portal that shows them real-time tracking information for orders, shipments, and invoices. Maybe you’ve automated email orders and started to reap the benefits in efficiency gains.

At this point, you may not be the most advanced B2B ecommerce organization, but your customer experience is on par with the competition. You’re not lagging, but you’re also not leading. Now you can move from remedial improvements to thinking about driving revenue growth.

Next steps

If you’ve given customers self-service tracking capabilities, and you’re realizing those efficiency gains, then it’s time to set your sights on the next target. The end-goal is still to cover the entire customer journey with self-service. Now that customers can manage their accounts online, it’s time to introduce online ordering.

  • Provide self-service order placement by SKU or CSV upload within your B2B customer portal. (This is easy to do when you upgrade from Corevist Launch to Corevist Grow.)
  • Make sure every customer will get the right SKU purchasing permissions, plus the right pricing and real-time inventory, straight from your SAP ERP system. (Corevist Grow does all this automatically. The solution will only accept orders that match your SAP business rules for that customer and those products. If there are issues, Corevist Grow provides intelligent error messaging so the user can fix the order.)
  • DON’T add online ordering through a different platform than the one that provides self-service tracking. You want everything on one platform, managed by one provider, and integrated to SAP ERP in real time.

3. Transform

Once you have online ordering in place, the sky’s the limit on an extensible platform like Corevist. You can take your customer experience from good to great—and even become a leader in your industry.

That’s what the Transform phase is all about. You have core infrastructure in place, with self-service tracking and online ordering capabilities firmly established on an SAP-integrated platform. With this essential foundation laid, you can add value that most of your competitors can’t provide.

Next steps

The Transform phase typically looks different for every organization. Unique relationships with customers, unique ordering processes, and highly differentiated products all call for unique approaches to creating an excellent customer experience. Here are some typical next steps that we see organizations take at this stage.  

  • Add a product catalog with rich content for easy browsing and product education. All customers benefit from self-service browsing—even EDI customers, who no longer have to send an EDI 832 to request a catalog with their personalized pricing. Product catalogs are available in Corevist Scale, and they display the same personalized inventory and pricing information that customers get in other parts of the Corevist application. As usual, this data comes straight from your SAP ERP system in real time.
  • Add self-service invoice payments. With real-time credit status and the ability to pay online, customers get total transparency—and you put them in the driver’s seat. Believe it or not, digital payment processes can cut up to 6 days from your payment cycle. Digital processes are also easier and less confusing for customers.
  • Add configurable products. If your organization offers configurable products, then it’s a huge win to enable self-service configuration within your catalog experience. This gives customers complete control, and it eliminates costly back-and-forth communication with reps. If your solution only accepts legitimate product configurations, as Corevist does, then you’ve got an airtight approach to selling these products online.

The gist: Take the next small step in your journey

Too many B2B ecommerce platforms require a giant, “Big Bang” transformation. They force you to build out and launch all kinds of sophisticated functionality in the first rollout.

For organizations in the React phase, that’s simply too much to take on. A project of that scope and complexity is more likely to get bogged down and overrun its budget.

Here at Corevist, we think it’s wiser to take one small step at a time. Our platform is built to facilitate this type of smart, iterative journey. It’s how our client Emmerson Packaging reduced customer service burden by 97%—and how they’re now looking to add online ordering to their portal.

The Corevist Platform | Full SAP Integration Included | Corevist, Inc.

Want to become Easier To Do Business With?

Check out the Corevist Platform.

Managed B2B portals and eCommerce with prebuilt integration for ECC and S/4HANA.

Take A Tour