5 Common Roadblocks To B2B Portals (+ Solutions)

Manufacturers need to launch B2B customer portals––yet challenges abound. Competing internal priorities, lack of resources, and looming upgrades to S/4HANA can scuttle a B2B portal project. 

Yet manufacturers need those portals. Customers are demanding digital self-service. 

It’s easy to find a reason not to do something, but that reason doesn’t have to stop you. Here are some of the most common challenges we see among manufacturers––and how to overcome them. 

1. Leadership doesn’t believe we need a B2B portal

At a high level, manufacturers tend to fall somewhere on a spectrum. At one end, you have companies with digital-first sensibilities. The self-service revolution came for these companies years ago, and they understand the digital expectations of today’s B2B buyer. Executive leadership has made it a strategic priority to provide a great self-service experience through B2B eCommerce. 

At the other end, you have organizations that haven’t seen the digital shift firsthand in their market. They don’t believe their B2B customers need this kind of experience to purchase their products. In fact, a B2B portal may seem like a “nice to have” rather than a “need to have.” After all, customers are placing orders via phone, fax, email, and EDI. Those methods have worked for decades. Why change now, especially when your customers are contractually obligated to buy from you? 

Overcoming this roadblock

You’ll need to educate and influence your stakeholders, whether they’re from operations, IT, sales and marketing, or all of the above. The best way to do this is to explain the value that a B2B portal offers to each person.

Check out our hands-on whitepaper to start building your business case: Get Buy-In For Your B2B Portal.

2. We know we need a portal, but we don’t all agree on strategy

Maybe your VP of operations wants to start with self-service for orders, invoices, and shipments. They may not care so much about B2B eCommerce catalogs and rich content for products. 

Maybe your CEO wants to see revenue growth in a particular customer segment. They may not care so much about delivering real-time order status or self-service invoice payments––they’d rather get that gorgeous product catalog and online ordering as fast as possible. 

Overcoming this roadblock

Everyone needs something different out of a B2B portal or eCommerce solution. The key is to find a platform that gives you a low-effort starting point and allows you to grow from there. (Hint: That’s the thinking behind the Corevist Platform.)  

So how do you play traffic cop between these (seemingly) competing interests?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we’ll point you to that whitepaper again: Get Buy-In For Your B2B Portal

Our in-depth guide explains the pain points of your CEO and your executives in operations, IT, and finance. It also gives you the corresponding benefits that a B2B portal offers to each leader. You can use this intelligence to build your business case. 

3. Our business processes are too complex for a B2B portal

Got ATP (available to promise)

How about customer-specific pricing––or multiple payers associated with a single customer account, or multi-part processes for order placement and stock releasing? 

No doubt about it, manufacturers’ transactions are complex. No wonder so many organizations still rely on phone, fax, and email to provide quotes and finalize orders. WIth all that complexity built out in SAP ERP, manufacturers assume you need a human being acting as a liaison between the customer and the ERP. 

That’s no longer true. 

Overcoming this roadblock

The key is to find a B2B portal platform that includes comprehensive, prebuilt, configurable integration to SAP ERP. You want a solution that supports that complexity out of the box, so you don’t have to build (and maintain) a custom integration to SAP ERP. 

And while many platforms exist that will duplicate and synchronize your data, that’s not ideal, either. It creates three systems that need to be kept in lockstep with each other. And some data, like availability/ATP, credit status, and order status, should be available in real time. This is the thinking behind the Corevist Platform. 

Now, in some cases, you may have unnecessary complexity in your ERP configuration. If that’s the case, you’ll want to find a trusted advisor who can help you clean up your data and logic to match best practices. Not only will that pave the way for a smooth integration with SAP––it will also make your backend processes more efficient. 

4. We’re migrating to S/4HANA in the next 1-2 years, so it’s not a good time to launch a B2B portal

Given the scope of an S/4HANA migration, this concern makes sense. 

S/4HANA is a big deal. It’s all-hands-on-deck in the IT department. You need to get it right so the core of your business keeps functioning smoothly. 

But that upgrade doesn’t have to stop your B2B portal project. 

Overcoming this roadblock

Manufacturers shouldn’t have to wait for S/4HANA to start reaping the benefits of a B2B portal. The digital world is evolving fast, and manufacturers need to jump in. 

That’s why Corevist’s prebuilt SAP integration follows you from ECC to S/4HANA with minimal heavy lifting. 

Read more here: Should We Wait For Our S/4HANA Migration To Launch Corevist? 

5. Our product data isn’t ready

Most B2B eCommerce solutions come bundled with a product catalog. 

You’ll have to build out that catalog as part of the project. But what if you don’t have high-quality product images? What if your product data is a mess––not centralized, not updated, not standardized? 

In these cases, big B2B eCommerce solutions look pretty intimidating. For some manufacturers, this roadblock is enough to kill a B2B project before it gets started. 

Overcoming this roadblock

Problems with product data should never stop a manufacturer from leveraging the power of a B2B portal. If you’re in this situation, you should look for a platform that allows you to start with customer self-service for tracking orders and invoices. When you launch a customer service portal first, you can offload the burden of routine inquiries from your customer service reps. 

As customers get familiar with your B2B portal, you’ll gain their trust, which makes it easy to add online ordering and product catalogs when you’re ready––provided your platform is built to accommodate this journey. 

Hint: That’s the thinking behind the Corevist Platform. You can launch a B2B portal for orders and invoices in 30 days, then upgrade to online ordering and gorgeous product catalogs when you’re ready. It’s your journey, and Corevist lets you take it on your terms.

The New Corevist Commerce | Full SAP Integration Included | Corevist, Inc.

Want to see deep SAP integration in your B2B portal?

Check out the Corevist Commerce demo video.

B2B portal platform with real-time SAP data and a sleek, mobile-friendly UI.

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About Author

George Anderson

George serves as content 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.