Turning Constraints Into Strengths In Covid Digital Transformation

Smart Covid Digital Transformation

A recent Forbes article discussed the need to recognize constraints in your business as you map out post-COVID digital transformation. The authors say that “every business or entity will have its own constraints and limitations, and once we know this, we can leverage it to our advantage.”

COVID has driven manufacturers to transform customer experience with self-service B2B eCommerce. Yet many organizations only see constraints when they look at their dependency on SAP ERP business rules and data. Complex business rules live in SAP, and it’s cost-prohibitive to build and maintain an architecture that synchronizes the web channel with SAP.

What if there was another way? What if you could leverage your SAP data in eCommerce without resorting to a costly middleware-based architecture?

Here are 4 common constraints for SAP-dependent manufacturers—plus how to leverage them as strengths.

1. Our pricing in SAP is too complex to rebuild in B2B eCommerce

Contract pricing is at the heart of your relationships with dealers and distributors. If buyers can’t get the right pricing in B2B eCommerce, then the web channel is failing in its mission of providing 100% accurate, personalized, self-service ordering capabilities.

If you opt for a standalone B2B eCommerce platform with middleware transferring data to and from SAP, you’ll have to rebuild your customer-specific pricing rules in middleware and eCommerce—plus maintain them in both places. Every time a customer is added, or contracts are renegotiated, you’ll have to update those rules in all 3 places (SAP, middleware, and eCommerce).

How to leverage the constraint of SAP pricing

Don’t try to rebuild pricing rules in multiple systems. Instead, look for a solution which brings your SAP business rules (including personalized pricing) to the web store, in real time. That way, you maintain business rules in one place only (SAP), and every customer experience is personalized and accurate.

That’s the thinking behind Corevist solutions—all of which include prebuilt, configurable, real-time SAP integration. Learn about it here: Our 53 SAP Integration Points.

2. Inventory data lives in SAP and we can’t maintain it in 2 places

Your dealers and distributors need accurate data for inventory/ATP (available to promise) if they’re going to place an order. They need to know that the order will arrive before their deadline. If that’s not possible, they need to know, so they can place an order with your competitor and meet that deadline.

Since SAP is the system of record for live inventory status, it’s difficult to give customers inventory visibility in a middleware-based eCommerce architecture. Batch synchronizations become out of date the moment they happen, which introduces fuzziness (and lack of confidence) to your customer experience.

How to leverage the constraint of SAP inventory data

If SAP is the system of record for live inventory data, it stands to reason that your web channel should give customers that same data in real time. B2B eCommerce should provide the same information through self-service which customers can get by calling Customer Service or Sales.

Look for a solution that includes real-time, personalized inventory/ATP integration for each customer, right out of the box. (Hint: That’s one of our 53 Prebuilt SAP Integration Points.)

3. Credit status lives in SAP and we can’t maintain it in 2 places

Credit status gets overlooked in the world of B2B eCommerce. In B2C, customers must pay instantly, so the question isn’t addressed by most B2B eCommerce platforms (which got their start as B2C platforms).

When you’re selling to dealers and distributors, that won’t cut it. At the very least, they need visibility into their credit status. (Ideally, you want to provide self-service invoice payments, too.)

If your buyers can place phone/fax/email/EDI orders today, paying on invoice terms, then your B2B eCommerce solution has to support that process. At the very least, the solution should give customers their real-time credit status so they know if their order will be processed, or if it will go on credit block.

Yet most B2B eCommerce solutions can’t provide real-time credit status for each customer—because they don’t integrate with SAP in real time.

How to leverage the constraint of credit status living in SAP

If SAP serves as your system of record for credit status, then it stands to reason that your web channel should show each buyer’s credit status in real time. Customers need visibility into credit status so they know if their order will be processed, or if they need to contact their A/P department to get invoices paid down first.

Speaking of which, if you want to enable self-service payments, take a look at Corevist Bill Pay. This self-service payment portal is available separately, or as part of Corevist Commerce.

4. Full order history from all channels lives in SAP

All B2B eCommerce solutions can provide order history for their own web orders. But what about orders through other channels? If your B2B portal is going to become the destination for customer self-service, shouldn’t it provide full order history for the account?

This is especially pertinent in light of COVID-19. With the availability of Sales and Customer Service disrupted, how are customers going to get real-time order status updates for phone/fax/email/EDI orders?

How to leverage the constraint of full order history living in SAP

If SAP is the system of record for full order history, and if your web channel is to serve as a destination for all self-service tasks, then it stands to reason that it should display full order history from SAP. This is the thinking behind Corevist’s SAP integration, which covers all customer needs as far as order tracking and history.

Moving forward: FREE case study

Want to see SAP data leveraged for B2B eCommerce? Download this case study on LORD Corporation. This leading manufacturer of industrial equipment needed to launch a new B2B eCommerce solution that put SAP at the core. Learn how Corevist Commerce delivered—and helped LORD grow their digital revenue by 41.5%.

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FREE Case study: LORD Corporation

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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.