How A Global Paint Manufacturer Replaced Disconnected Ecommerce Stores & Grew Revenue 206%

Axalta Coating Systems had 12 separate eCommerce solutions, none of them integrated to SAP ERP.

Here’s how Marion Röthgen solved the problem at Axalta—and helped her team grow eCommerce revenue 206%.

Axalta Coating Systems, a leading manufacturer of paint and coatings, needed to grow their global ecommerce footprint—both in number of storefronts, and in revenue.

There was only one problem. Axalta had 12 separate ecommerce solutions for different brands and geographies, and none of them shared any data with the company’s SAP ERP system. This made it incredibly difficult to monitor the overall health of the ecommerce program. It also created a troublesome customer experience, as customers couldn’t see personalized pricing or real-time availability.

It wasn’t feasible to add more disconnected storefronts. If Axalta was going to grow their ecommerce program, they needed to consolidate existing stores onto a single, SAP-integrated platform. Then they could pave the way for growth.

For other manufacturers, there’s a lot to be learned from Axalta’s approach, which hinged on a single idea: They wanted a scalable ecommerce platform that included prebuilt SAP integration.

“We wanted to make ordering as fast, easy and flexible as possible for our customers.”

—Marion Röthgen, Manager eBusiness EMEA

The problem: Disconnected ecommerce stores

Manufacturers face unique challenges when it comes to ecommerce. Different markets, product lines, and brands may require separate storefronts to handle unique branding, buying permissions, and so on.

Without a coordinated approach, manufacturers can fall into the trap of launching separate ecommerce solutions for each use case. It happens all the time—particularly for organizations that have never charted a course in ecommerce before.

In one sense, there’s nothing wrong with a disconnected ecommerce solution. In fact, many manufacturers start with a proof-of-concept solution on Shopify (or a similar small business platform) to validate their ecommerce use case.

However, if a global commerce program is going to process hundreds of millions in B2B revenue—honoring unique ERP rules for pricing, availability, credit, and more—then standalone solutions are going to cause problems. Comprehensive, real-time ERP integration is essential to support complex B2B use cases.

But it’s not feasible to build, launch, upgrade, and troubleshoot multiple custom ERP integrations.

This is why enterprise-class manufacturers choose to address ERP integration at the very core of ecommerce. Typically, that means finding a platform that rests on a prebuilt, templatized ERP integration.

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Axalta’s struggle with disconnected ecommerce stores

Marion Röthgen knew the pain of disconnected ecommerce stores. Axalta had 12 separate solutions for different brands and geographies. None of these solutions shared data with the company’s SAP ERP system.

This lack of integration introduced a risk to data integrity. Every customer, product, and order lived in two places—SAP ERP, and the ecommerce solution database. Even if Marion launched middleware to duplicate and synchronize data between ecommerce and SAP, the risk of data integrity problems would remain. Marion would have to keep all 3 systems perfectly configured and synchronized, or errors would result—and every error would require human intervention to triage and address. The list of possible issues was overwhelming:

  • Order rejected by SAP for wrong pricing
  • Order rejected by SAP for wrong product quantity
  • Customer not allowed to buy requested SKU
  • Requested SKU discontinued, no replacement planned

Orders could also go on backorder once they hit SAP. Yet the ecommerce solution couldn’t warn customers about potential backordering because the solution couldn’t read SAP data in real time. That could lead to various backordering surprises for customers, each of which required human intervention to communicate with the customer:

  • Product out of stock (whether completely out of stock, or the customer already ordered more than their available to promise quantity)
  • Order put on credit block because customer needs to pay off open invoices
  • Requested SKU discontinued, replacement SKU not available

This created internal problems, but more importantly, it left customers frustrated and confused.

Clearly, Axalta needed to overhaul their ecommerce program.

A better approach to ecommerce for manufacturers

Axalta teamed up with Corevist (and chose the Corevist Platform) to re-architect their ecommerce program. The goal was to deliver the right products, pricing, availability, and credit status to every logged-in customer—plus full history and status for orders and invoices from all channels (not just ecommerce). They also wanted to scale up their program from 12 storefronts to 25.

Here’s what worked.

Marion gave customers a seamless self-service experience

When ecommerce isn’t integrated to the ERP, it creates problems for manufacturers’ customers. For example, users may not be able to see their personalized contract pricing—or any pricing at all. Inventory levels may be out of date in the ecommerce store if they aren’t pulled from the ERP in real time—and these two examples just scratch the surface.

Axalta had 12 ecommerce stores, but many brands and geographies didn’t have ecommerce. These customers still had to place orders via phone, fax, and email. Likewise, if they needed to inquire about order history and status, line item status, or shipment status, they had to call customer service.

The same was true of invoices and credit management. Customers had no self-service access to credit information for their account.

Marion addressed all customer experience problems with the Corevist Platform. Our prebuilt, configurable SAP ERP integration delivered all the self-service capabilities that customers needed:

  • Real-time, personalized pricing
  • Real-time ATP (available to promise) for inventory availability
  • Catalog and product browsing
  • Related products, cross-selling, and upselling
  • Intelligent error messages for orders that don’t adhere to SAP business rules
  • Only 100% error-free orders posted to SAP from ecommerce
  • Full status and history for all orders, from all channels (ecommerce, EDI, phone, fax, email…), straight from SAP
  • Detailed line item status and real-time shipment tracking integration
  • Full invoice history and status
  • Real-time credit status
  • Self-service payment capabilities to select and pay down invoices

“With this new self-service web shop, our refinish and powder customers will find all the product information they need in one place, with real-time price information.”

—Marion Röthgen, Manager eBusiness EMEA

Marion established Axalta’s ERP as the system of record

Marion insisted on not duplicating and synchronizing data between ecommerce and Axalta’s ERP system. She knew this would create massive IT headaches down the road—particularly once Axalta expanded to 25 storefronts.

Because the Corevist Platform comes with prebuilt, configurable integration SAP ERP (for ECC or S/4HANA), Marion firmly established Axalta’s ERP system as the “one source of truth” for business data.

Prebuilt ERP integration delivered essential ecommerce experience on Day 1

Corevist’s SAP ERP integration, included in the Corevist Platform, contains 49 integration points that are live and working on Day 1. Our out-of-the-box solution supports standard configurations in the SD module of SAP ERP, and it’s configurable enough to work with unique logic as well.

All of Corevist’s pre-configured functionality worked on Day 1. Axalta’s brand-new Corevist solution could actually post orders to their production ERP system the moment we turned it on.

Of course, not every manufacturer follows standard SAP SD configurations. Axalta was no exception. During the course of the ecommerce project, we worked with Marion and her team to configure the Corevist Platform to fit Axalta’s unique business rules. All along the way, we advised Axalta’s IT team on how to keep things as standardized as possible in the ERP. Where that wasn’t possible, we configured Corevist to accommodate the essential ERP logic that supports Axalta’s unique business processes.

Solution scaled up easily without linear cost scaling

When manufacturers struggle with ecommerce, it’s usually due to the complexity of the ERP integration. If your chosen platform doesn’t include SAP integration, you have to build that piece again every time you expand with a new storefront. Third-party connectors help, but the trouble is that you may need a unique instance of the connector for each separate ecommerce solution.

In that case, the cost of ecommerce will scale linearly with the growth of the program. This is bad news for manufacturers, who already have their hands full with their core business.

Marion scored a huge win for Axalta in this regard. The Corevist Platform includes prebuilt SAP ERP integration (for S/4HANA or NetWeaver), and you can roll out as many storefronts as you want on that one integration architecture.

This meant Marion easily replaced those 12 separate ecommerce solutions with a single instance of the Corevist Platform (supporting 12 storefronts).

But Marion didn’t stop there. She added 13 more storefronts on the Corevist Platform, for a total of 25.

Numerous brands and geographies supported (and centralized)

Here’s the incredible thing. Marion expanded Axalta’s ecommerce program around the globe—and she didn’t create significant new work for IT. Axalta’s SAP team could go on maintaining SAP ERP, as they always had, and every Corevist storefront would automatically display the correct pricing, availability, language, and more—to every logged-in customer.

For manufacturers who need to pivot and scale fast in today’s digital climate, this is a huge win.

Results: Massive ecommerce revenue growth

Axalta has seen significant growth in digital revenue since switching to the Corevist Platform. The company’s ecommerce program is thriving all around the globe.

Axalta has also created a welcome alternative to order placement by phone, fax, and email for sales areas that didn’t have ecommerce before. As customers increasingly use ecommerce for product research, order placement, and tracking, customer service reps gain bandwidth to work on higher-value tasks like building customer relationships. This is better for Axalta’s operations—and for customers.

“The Corevist application is extremely performant and reliable, service is fast, and communication is very good.”

—Marion Röthgen, Manager eBusiness EMEA

SOLUTION USED:

Corevist Scale

Your smart path to B2B eCommerce mastery.

Corevist Scale offers our most sophisticated capabilities.

  • Rich product content in your catalog
  • Self-service product configuration
  • Credit card payment supported at checkout
  • Support for robust third-party integrations

Since the Corevist Platform is a managed solution with deep, prebuilt SAP integration, your IT team can rest easy—both during the project, and after GoLive.

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