At a high level, ROI calculations may appear to be simple in the world of B2B eCommerce. Don’t you just divide net B2B eCommerce revenue by the cost of the solution, then turn that into a percentage?
Yes—if B2B eCommerce exists in a vacuum.
But unless you’re a brand-new company, B2B eCommerce doesn’t exist in a vacuum. For a comprehensive view of ROI, you’ll want to account for the ways that B2B eCommerce impacts all your other sales channels—not to mention your operational efficiency.
It’s time to reset the conversation on B2B eCommerce ROI. Rather than looking at B2B eCommerce on its own, we should look at it in the context of revenue operations (RevOps) as a whole. This allows us to attribute value to B2B eCommerce that we’ll miss if we calculate ROI for the B2B eCommerce channel alone.
Here’s everything to consider for a comprehensive view of B2B eCommerce ROI.
Revenue from all channels
Since we’re calculating ROI for RevOps as a whole, we need to look at net revenue from all channels (EDI, phone, fax, email, and B2B eCommerce). This is critical because B2B eCommerce impacts revenue from other channels in ways that may not be obvious.
Say an EDI customer checks product availability in B2B eCommerce before placing an EDI order. (This is easier and more convenient than sending an EDI request for the same information.) To the customer’s surprise, they find that you do have product X in stock. Now they source that product from you, via EDI, rather than placing a separate order with a competitor.
Maybe another customer browses your B2B eCommerce catalog before meeting with a sales rep. They discover products that they didn’t know about—products which solve one of their problems. When they meet with the rep, they place a larger order than they planned to. The sale gets logged through a traditional channel, but B2B eCommerce played an invisible “assist” role in increasing revenue from this customer.
These are just two example scenarios, but there are many like them. Since it’s difficult to trace these specific actions to B2B eCommerce, it’s essential to look at net revenue as a whole.
Of course, to get net revenue from a RevOps perspective, you’ll need a comprehensive view of RevOps costs.
Manual order entry from phone, fax, and in-person sales calls
How do you take orders today? If you rely on sales or customer service reps to type orders into SAP ERP, then there’s a significant cost to calculate here.
Unfortunately, the cost isn’t always clear-cut. An order without errors might take 5-15 minutes to log in SAP, but an order with problems can take much longer. Perhaps one callback with the customer will resolve the issue—or perhaps the situation will need multiple rounds of communication.
These things are difficult to quantify at scale. We find it’s helpful to use an average cost of $7-10 for manual order entry. Most organizations can assume $7, but it’s worth investigating your processes and data to determine what number is right for you.
Here’s the good news: B2B eCommerce can reduce or eliminate this cost because it empowers customers with self-service.
Now, email orders are a special case (if you choose a B2B eCommerce solution that can automate them).
Manual order entry from email orders
Even if you launch B2B eCommerce, some customers may continue to send orders via email.
Or perhaps you choose to start your B2B eCommerce journey with email order automation.
Either way, a solution like Corevist BuyBot can reduce or eliminate the cost of manual order entry for email orders. BuyBot reads incoming POs and validates them against your business rules in SAP ERP. If there are no errors, BuyBot posts the order to SAP, hands-free. If there are errors, BuyBot routes the order to your customer service team for review.
Our clients find that 95% of email orders post to SAP hands-free, without errors, through BuyBot. That’s a huge cost reduction in their order-to-cash cycle.
Routine status checks requiring human intervention
Naturally, customers need to check on orders, line items, and shipments to know when their products will arrive. If you don’t have a self-service customer portal, then customers have no choice but to call or email customer service to get this routine information.
As with manual order entry, $7 is a good estimate for the cost of each human intervention regarding routine status checks.
B2B eCommerce can reduce or eliminate this cost by empowering customers with self-service tracking and status checks. The key is to choose a solution that shows this information from SAP, in real time. (That’s one reason the Corevist Platform includes 49 prebuilt integration points for SAP ECC or S/4HANA.)
Routine document requests requiring human intervention
If a customer needs another copy of an invoice, how do they get it today?
What if they need a shipping document, or a reprint of a PO?
If you rely on customer service reps to provide these documents manually, then this is another RevOps cost that B2B eCommerce can address. If your B2B eCommerce solution includes comprehensive, real-time SAP integration (as the Corevist Platform does), then you can reduce or eliminate this cost by empowering customers to download these documents themselves—straight from the B2B eCommerce portal.
Once again, our clients find that $7 is a reasonable estimate for the cost of one human intervention for a routine document request.
Paper-based payment processes requiring human intervention
If customers have to engage paper-based processes to keep their accounts in good standing, then you may be paying too much. Paper requires human intervention at every stage. What’s more, it makes it harder for customers to understand their account standing, as paper statements quickly become outdated.
Self-service access to real-time financial information changes everything. When you add digital payments capabilities, you can reduce or eliminate costly paper-based payment processes. Digital is also faster, typically cutting 6 days from the OTC cycle (4 days in the mail and 2 days processing).
RevOps cost highlight: The true cost of B2B eCommerce
Among RevOps costs, B2B eCommerce requires special attention.
Because you don’t want to end up with a B2B eCommerce solution that costs more than the processes it replaces.
There are two basic models to evaluate here.
Cost model 1: Standalone platform, 3rd party SAP integration
If you’re looking at a solution that doesn’t include SAP ERP integration, then there’s a lot you have to consider. (This is one reason the Corevist Platform includes SAP integration—so you can get it all from one trusted partner.)
If you choose a B2B eCommerce solution that doesn’t include SAP integration, here’s everything you have to consider when calculating the cost of B2B eCommerce.
- B2B eCommerce platform licensing
- B2B eCommerce implementation
- B2B eCommerce hosting, support, and upgrades
- SAP ERP integration platform licensing
- SAP ERP integration platform implementation
- SAP ERP integration platform hosting, support, and upgrades
- Cost of triaging issues across 3 software systems (SAP, integration platform, and B2B eCommerce)
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to forecast costs with a complex architecture like this. If your B2B eCommerce platform wasn’t built specifically to integrate with SAP ERP, then future upgrades may not take into account your integration requirements. The burden of compatibility falls to the integration platform provider, who likely has to support many different B2B eCommerce platforms.
And if you’re migrating from ECC to S/4HANA, you may have to rebuild B2B eCommerce from scratch.
(Hint: This is why the Corevist Platform is built to follow you from ECC to S/4HANA with prebuilt SAP integration.)
Cost model 2: Managed SaaS platform that includes prebuilt SAP integration
What if you could roll all those costs into one bundle, reduce them, and get all that value from one trusted partner?
That’s the thinking behind the Corevist Platform. Our solutions eliminate ambiguous costs that arise from complex architectures that don’t have a single owner. You get one partner who takes ownership for the entire stack. This means a clear line of sight to B2B eCommerce costs—which makes it easier to calculate your RevOps ROI, too.
Tying it all together: The true ROI of B2B eCommerce
Yes, it’s good to calculate the ROI of your B2B eCommerce channel on its own.
But you also need to examine how B2B eCommerce drives revenue and reduces cost across all channels.
To do so, you’ll want to analyze the costs we’ve examined within the context of your organization. Compare your ROI on RevOps as a whole—both before and after B2B eCommerce. This gives you a holistic picture of what B2B eCommerce is doing for you, your organization, and your customers.