Categories: SAP eCommerce


George Anderson


Ecommerce & EDI: Finding The Right Mix

For manufacturers looking at launching an SAP ecommerce solution, one question often comes up: “How does EDI fit into this picture?”

The simple answer is, EDI and ecommerce can easily coexist.

The nuanced answer is, adding ecommerce alongside EDI diversifies your channels and opens you up to revenue from customer segments that can’t afford EDI. What’s more, given the fact that only 34% of EDI orders are hands-free, ecommerce represents significant cost savings if you can transition your larger customers off EDI.

Here’s how ecommerce can revolutionize your order fulfillment process. The first step is to identify the customer segments you’re missing out on—those who can’t afford to buy from you through EDI.

Customer segments who can’t afford EDI

While every market is different, one principle holds across any market in which EDI is prominent: not all B2B customers can afford to buy from you through EDI. These smaller distributors and dealers simply can’t justify the cost of an EDI purchasing solution. If you force all your suppliers to buy through EDI, you effectively cut out this segment of smaller customers.

How valuable is that segment to you? Again, every market is different. However, consider how the concept of the long tail might apply to your potential customers. Is there a large number of small customers who can’t currently do business with you through EDI? If this number is large enough, it may constitute a substantial block of revenue that you’re currently not receiving. Analyze your market and your potential customers and see what figures you come up with.

The value of ecommerce to those customer segments

Smaller customers that don’t have EDI investments may still want to buy from you. In that case, ecommerce is a great value to them (and you). Self-service ordering means they can buy at their convenience—without incurring expense for you with a phone call to Customer Service. With a solution like Corevist Commerce that only posts 100% error-free orders to SAP, self-service orders from small customers won’t require follow-ups to correct order errors. Again, this keeps the cost of order processing down, which helps you achieve higher margins working with smaller customers.

Pivoting from EDI to ecommerce with larger customers

Once you have ecommerce in place to meet the needs of your long tail customers, a funny thing happens. Your ordering process for these customers is easy for them and efficient for you—but your cost of order fulfillment for large EDI customers is still high.

Why not address that in a future phase of your ecommerce journey?

EDI still costs you in the fulfillment process. Because there’s no intelligent feedback mechanism for EDI orders, they will always come in with errors. Where there are errors, there are follow-ups to customers, which costs you time and money.

Why not leverage ecommerce for your biggest customers, too?

A solution like Corevist Commerce allows your buyers to order by Excel spreadsheet upload. That means they can create an order in their purchasing system, as they usually would, then export it to Excel and upload it to the Corevist cart. Corevist will query the order against your SAP system and return intelligent error messages to the user for bad SKUs, quantity errors, and more. That way, the user can fix the order on their own, without a call to Customer Service—while still building the bulk of the order in their purchasing system.

By the way, if you’re worried about Corevist handling EDI-size orders, check out this post: 76% Decrease In Processing Time for 500+ Line Orders.

With intelligent self-service ordering, your larger customers can still place bulk orders, but you get the cost savings of a reduced burden on customer service. It’s a win-win situation.

Moving forward: FREE case study

Wondering how EDI and ecommerce coexist in real life? Download this case study on Blount International. You’ll learn how this manufacturer launched Corevist Commerce for a seamless customer journey while maintaining a legacy EDI channel.

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