George Anderson


The #1 key to 100% self-service ordering

In a recent whitepaper called “The Changing Landscape of B2B eCommerce,” the team at Zoey Commerce provides a great deal of information on the complexities of B2B and what to look for in an ecommerce solution. There’s a lot to glean from that whitepaper, but one thing is absent: there’s no discussion of ERP integration.

For enterprise-class manufacturers, that absence is conspicuous. An established manufacturer running SAP is essentially locked into that relationship with the ERP system. It’s entirely infeasible to launch a new system, such as ecommerce, that doesn’t integrate with SAP.

In this article, we’ll look at the two most important topics which Zoey covered in their whitepaper. We’ll see how integration plays a crucial role in each of these—how it’s really essential to making ecommerce work for your customers. Let’s get started!

1. Supporting self-service customers

Zoey makes a great point that B2B buyers need easy reordering. While some B2B personas may engage in catalog browsing, others come to the B2B ordering portal with a list of SKUs in hand, ready to place that order as fast as possible. Zoey is absolutely right to point out that a streamlined ordering interface, with CSV order upload and saved cart capabilities, is crucial to meeting the needs of this kind of buyer (what we like to call a “power user”).

There’s only one thing missing: integration.

Without a real-time integration to SAP, a B2B portal isn’t truly self-service. Why? Because your power users need direct, real-time feedback on discontinued SKUs, nonexistent SKUs, and more. Without that kind of feedback displayed in the ordering portal directly from SAP, the order will need manual intervention from Customer Service when it gets filled. That creates delays and erodes buyer faith in the portal.

Solution: Corevist Commerce, integrated to SAP in real time

Corevist Commerce eliminates this issue. With intelligent, real-time error messaging from SAP, Corevist alerts the user to incorrect SKUs, right within the cart. That way, the user can correct the errors and place a well-formed order. In fact, Corevist will only accept a 100% SAP-ready order. It’s true self-service.

2. Supporting full-service customers

Zoey makes another good point: some B2B transactions may still require human interaction. At Corevist, we tend to agree with that as a general statement—for example, no one is ever going to buy a Boeing 747 through one-click add-to-cart. Big purchases like that will still require some human-to-human contact.

However, it’s worth interrogating this line of reasoning a little further. Zoey quotes some stats from a B2BecNews survey of 125 purchasing managers and corporate buyers. In a B2B world where eCommerce is supposed to take over, those stats are a little shocking:

  • 88% of purchasing managers email customer service in the purchasing process.
  • 41% call customer service in the purchasing process.

Chances are, those numbers reflect many purchases that could have been 100% self-service if the ecommerce store in question had provided real-time ERP interaction (both real-time ERP data display and real-time order posting to the ERP).

Think about it—why do your customers contact customer service before placing an order? Most likely, the bulk of those calls and emails are routine inquiries such as:

  • Inventory/available to promise (ATP) lookups
  • Inventory lookup for nearest ship-from warehouse
  • Contract/scaled pricing questions
  • SKU substitution questions
  • Related product questions
  • Requested delivery date (RDD) questions

Solution: Corevist Commerce, integrated to SAP in real time

Here’s the kicker. A CSR answers those questions by interrogating SAP. Your SAP business rules give the CSR the information they need, which they pass on to the customer. That’s exactly what Corevist Commerce does—in a self-service ordering portal. Our real-time integration to SAP gives your customer all that purchase-critical data on the web, including personalized data like ATP and contract pricing that’s tied to their sold-to in SAP.

Unless they’re buying Boeing 747s, your customers shouldn’t have to call in. Chances are, they only do so because they have no other way to get the confidence which they need to make the purchase. When you give your customers real-time SAP data in ecommerce, plus self-service payments integrated to SAP and a customer dashboard with SAP data, you eliminate that doubt (and that friction).

In other words, you become easier to do business with.  

Moving forward: FREE case study

Wondering what real-time SAP data does for real ecommerce users? Download this case study on LORD Corporation. You’ll learn how LORD had to replatform when their old ecommerce solution was sunsetted, why they chose Corevist Commerce, and what that real-time SAP data has meant to them and their customers.

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