Going from the Stone Ages to the Dark Ages of SAP B2B eCommerce

A step forward… or a step back?

Last week, I had what turned out to be the last conversation in a six month long dialogue with the IT Director of a $4B US based Manufacturer of Packaging Materials.  He informed me that the SAP Integrated B2B eCommerce project that we were being considered for was awarded to someone else.  I was stunned since we were such a perfect fit.  I thought that his sister division’s delayed 18 months long, money sucking hybri$ implementation served as the perfect foil to our many client referenceable, 90 day money back guaranteed, real-time SAP B2B solution.

Who could have stolen this project from us?  It had to be a new entrant into the market.  One that I’ve never heard of.  No one else could do what we proposed to do in the time frame and price that we quoted.

I. Was. Heartbroken.

Until he told me how they decided to solve their B2B eCommerce challenge.

So, in August of the year 2016, this is the three part solution that this $4B company has committed to provide to (not for) their customers:

  1. Outlaw faxed orders.  –  The initial problem that he wanted to solve, get rid of incoming fax orders, was going to be solved by edict.  He simply was going to tell his 300+ Canadian customers that they would no longer be accepting faxed orders.Period.  End of discussion.

    Personally, I get wanting to abolish fax orders in 2016.  It is 2016 after all and Napoleon first transmitted faxes in 1860 for god’s sake!  I think technology has advanced somewhat in the last 156 years.  But telling your customers that you’re not going to accept faxes at all seems a little customer un-friendly…to say the least.  But hey, maybe when you are the 900 pound gorilla in your market you can get away with it.  Correction, their business declined by 7% last year.  I guess that makes them an 837 pound gorilla :-).

  2. Mandate Excel spreadsheet orders.  –  The alternative to faxed orders will be to use Excel spreadsheets.  This $4B Manufacturer (they generate $11M in sales EVERYDAY!!!), is going to force every single one of their customers to upload an Excel spreadsheet into a secure vault on the web.  They will give them no feedback about that order other than to say “thank you for your order.  we have confirmed receipt of your spreadsheet.  once we have had a chance to process it we will get back to you and let you know if and when we can ship it.  have a nice day!”
  3. CSRs manually upload orders into SAP – The last step in this $4B Manufacturer’s evolution from the Stone Ages of B2B eCommerce (faxes – which are essentially equivalent to transmitting cave paintings) into the Dark Ages (spreadsheets) is to have their Customer Services Representatives manually go to that secure vault, retrieve those spreadsheets manually, and with a tip of the hat to modernity, allow them to upload them into SAP via custom programs that will be written in WinShuttle.

That’s it folks.  That’s the solution that Corevist lost to.

Oh wait!  I forgot to tell you one thing.  They won’t be able to deliver this Dark Ages solution until April of 2017.

So, I’m not heartbroken anymore.  In fact, I’m quite excited because while this story seems like an outlier, I have a CRM system full of SAP Manufacturers who aren’t that far ahead of these folks on their respective “digital journeys”.

All that means is that I have something to look forward to in 2018-2023 :-). That’ll be the Renaissance period for all those manufacturers that will be awakening to the threat of their imminent extinction.

Onward!

Sam

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About Author

Sam Bayer

Sam Bayer is the Founder & CEO of Corevist. His mission is to capitalize on the convergence of the growing popularity of Cloud delivered services and the consumerization of B2B ecommerce to build a company that delivers real value to his clients and a great place to work for his team.