First published Jan 14, 2020. Expanded July 13, 2021.
Personalization is essential in B2B eCommerce. In fact, Salesforce reports that 72% of B2B customers expect personalization, while 67% have switched suppliers for a more B2C-influenced buying experience.
But personalization in B2B presents unique challenges. Most of the data and logic that define personalization already exist in the B2B vendor’s SAP ERP system. (Pssst! You’ll want to keep that fact in mind as you compare B2B eCommerce platforms.)
Where is personalization most important in B2B eCommerce? And how do you ensure that each customer gets a B2B eCommerce experience conformed to the personalized data in SAP?
Here’s our take.
1. Personalized catalog
Global manufacturers need to control which products a given customer is allowed to buy. This could be for regulatory reasons, strategic reasons, or a combination of the two. Since SAP ERP defines the customer’s allowed products, and a CSR (customer service rep) can only place an order that conforms to these rules, it’s easy to handle this restriction for manual order entry processes.
But how do you map that complexity in personalized B2B eCommerce?
How to deliver a personalized B2B catalog
Choose a B2B eCommerce solution that’s built on a rock-solid ERP integration.
That’s how the Corevist Platform works. Whatever product restrictions apply to your customers in SAP, our solution maps those same restrictions in the B2B eCommerce channel.
In other words, your customers can only purchase the SKUs that your SAP business rules allow. It’s a simple, elegant solution to the problem of catalog personalization in B2B.
2. Personalized product recommendations
Related products are a crucial merchandising tool in B2C eCommerce. But they serve an additional function in B2B. While they can certainly help you grow your AOV (average order value), they also offer a powerful opportunity for personalization.
For example, if a customer has purchased a major piece of equipment from you, and you also sell consumables to support that equipment, you can leverage those product relationships in B2B eCommerce as recommended products for that customer. This empowers you to offer even more value in B2B eCommerce, reminding customers of the ancillary products that they may need to reorder to maintain that major piece of equipment.
How to deliver personalized product recommendations
If you’ve already defined these product relationships in SAP, then it doesn’t make sense to re-define them in your B2B eCommerce solution. You should look for a way to leverage that existing SAP logic directly without duplicating and synchronizing data between SAP and B2B eCommerce. (Hint: Corevist solves this with direct, real-time SAP integration built in.)
3. Personalized pricing
Not every customer gets the same pricing when buying from a manufacturer. Contract pricing, including any quantity-based or scaled discount logic, is defined in SAP for each customer. If your buyers can’t get accurate pricing in B2B eCommerce, they simply won’t use the web store. They’ll have to call in anyway, which defeats the purpose of offering self-service online ordering.
So how do you get each customer’s personalized pricing to display accurately when they browse the B2B eCommerce portal?
How to deliver personalized pricing
Since each customer’s unique pricing rules reside in SAP ERP, you’ll need a B2B eCommerce solution that’s integrated to SAP—and supports the mapping of personalized pricing to the individual B2B eCommerce user.
Since the Corevist Platform is built on a direct integration to SAP, we provide personalized contract pricing to each of your customers, right out of the box. This prevents you from duplicating all those business rules in SAP in eCommerce.
4. Personalized, real-time inventory availability (or ATP)
What inventory information do you give customers today? What information do they get if they call customer service to check inventory availability for an SKU?
Depending on your policies, each customer may need access to the actual total available inventory, or you may only provide them with an ATP (available to promise) quantity that’s calculated individually for each customer.
Whichever model you use, your customers need to know how much of a product is available before they make a purchase. You’ll need to address inventory display in B2B eCommerce in a way that conforms to your SAP business rules.
How to deliver personalized inventory/ATP
Once again, the best way to personalize inventory data in B2B eCommerce is to take it straight from SAP ERP, in real time.
This is how the Corevist Platform works. When it comes to stock availability, our solution acts as a window into your SAP system. We can display ATP/inventory availability in real time, personalized for each user—or suppress it entirely, if you prefer not to show inventory numbers in B2B eCommerce.
5. Personalized error messaging in the cart
What happens if a customer orders an SKU that they’re not allowed to buy?
What if they order a quantity of 8, when the material is only sold in multiples of 10?
What if the SKU they’ve ordered has actually been retired, and they should’ve ordered the SKU that replaces it?
Problems like these arise when your B2B eCommerce solution isn’t integrated to SAP.
How to deliver personalized error messages in B2B eCommerce
If you’ve defined your product rules in SAP, then your B2B eCommerce solution should reflect those rules by giving users personalized error messages so they can create well-formed orders. This is only possible through real-time SAP integration, and it’s what Corevist delivers. When a user puts an order together, our solution simulates the order against your SAP business rules in real time. If any errors occur, Corevist gives the user a personalized message explaining what’s wrong so they can fix it.
6. Personalized ship-to/sold-to selection
If B2B eCommerce is going to work for manufacturers, it needs to map the complex relationships by which products get bought and sold. Manufacturers need B2B eCommerce to work for all kinds of users—sales, customer service, and 3PL (3rd party logistics provider) employees, not to mention customers. It’s not enough to personalize the B2B eCommerce browsing experience. Every user needs access to personalized workflows that support their role within the transaction.
This is especially true when it comes to multiple ship-to/sold-to mapping. If your current business processes allow users to place orders on behalf of multiple sold-tos, and if users can choose multiple shipping locations for those orders, then your B2B eCommerce solution needs to support that personalization.
How to deliver personalized ship-to/sold-to selection
Since the relationship between roles and ship-tos/sold-tos exists in SAP, it only makes sense to use an SAP-integrated B2B eCommerce solution to provide this personalization.
That’s how the Corevist Platform works. Whatever relationships exist between roles and ship-tos/sold-tos in SAP, Corevist maps those same relationships within the eCommerce store. For example:
- A Sales rep can use eCommerce to place orders on behalf of each of his/her assigned customers, toggling between different customer accounts.
- A CSR (customer service rep) can track down order status for each of his/her assigned customers.
- A customer can choose between multiple shipping locations when placing an order.
7. Personalized account management
Here’s where many conventional B2B eCommerce platforms fall down. Without complex, expensive, custom integrations, they can’t deliver personalized account management.
It’s not enough to show order history and status for B2B eCommerce orders. For manufacturers, not all customers will use B2B eCommerce for every order. This means the B2B portal should show real-time status and history for orders from all channels, not just eCommerce. EDI, phone, fax, and email—basically any order that’s in SAP should appear in the account management area of the portal.
Customers don’t just need orders, either. They also need full invoice history, real-time open items and credit status, and—ideally—the ability to pay off open invoices online.
How to deliver personalized account management
Since every customer’s account data lives in SAP, it stands to reason that you’ll need a comprehensive SAP integration to bring this level of personalization to B2B eCommerce. For datapoints like credit status, order status, and open items, you really need real-time integration so this information never gets out of sync.