How Your Customers Really Feel About Your Ordering Process

True confessions from dealers & distributors

At Corevist, our software is designed to simplify manufacturers’ interactions with their dealers and distributors. To make that a reality, we constantly strive for a deeper understanding of how real people interact with Corevist.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the offices of several of our clients’ customers and hear first hand how Corevist impacts their jobs. Here’s what I learned, plus takeaways for manufacturers who want to do business online.

1. Don’t overestimate the computer literacy of your customers

Several customers whom I visited started their ordering process in their own purchasing systems. After building the order there, they printed a PDF and used it to rekey orders into the website, whether it was our client’s Corevist web channel, or the portal of another supplier.

Here, we had the opportunity to educate customers on fast order entry in any supplier’s portal. We explained how they could simply export to Excel, then copy and paste SKUs and quantities into their supplier’s websites.

In the case of Corevist Commerce, we explained how they could actually just upload that Excel spreadsheet directly to the cart and eliminate the copy/paste process.

Takeaway:

Every SAP-integrated B2B eCommerce project should start with a “pulse check” on your customers. How do they order now? Are they ready for the ease of use which eCommerce offers, or will they need a little guidance to get the full benefit of eCommerce?

Read more here: Crafting Your eCommerce Rollout Care Package.

2. Rekeying orders wasn’t the only friction point which customers encountered

Believe it or not, rekeying orders wasn’t the only reason these customers generally weren’t using suppliers’ websites. In reality, there were three forces pushing customers away from rekeying orders:

  1.   Other suppliers’ websites are confusing and difficult to use. Customers said cryptic error messages, non-intuitive navigation, the difficulty of finding products, shared passwords locking people out, and inaccurate inventory/pricing information were the primary reasons they abandoned eCommerce. (NOTE: Corevist Commerce addresses all of these issues through real-time SAP integration and easy, intuitive user experience.)
  2.   Transferring PO data to the website is cumbersome and error prone. It wasn’t the only reason, but it was definitely a factor in their non-adoption of other suppliers’ sites. (NOTE: Corevist Commerce makes it easy to upload orders via XLS and save common reorders for easy repetition.)
  3.   Customers have no incentive to use the website. In fact, customers have good reason not to use your portal when #1 and #2 are in play. They have even more reason not to use it if you continue to support costly order entry methods which depend on a dedicated Sales rep or CSR. In addition, some other suppliers offer % discounts and/or better shipping terms when customers use their website. 

Takeaway:

Reorient your staff to perform other value-added service to your customers aside from manual order entry. If you continue to offer expensive order processing methods (i.e. phone, fax, email, all of which require a CSR’s time), your customers will continue to choose those methods if you haven’t crafted your eCommerce experience around customers’ needs.

The other takeaway here is to offer discounts to customers who use the website. This doesn’t have to be a perennial program—you can use it to drive adoption in the early stages, then modify or retire it when appropriate.  

3. You may have hidden Personas that could/should be using your Distributor Portal

On the trip, we encountered situations in which only one persona, the Buyer, had access to the distributor portal. Floor salespeople would have to come to her to ask if there were any cross-sell/up-sell opportunities, and they also had to rely on her to check on inventory and pricing.

This isn’t a great process. It leads to mistakes, delays, and missed opportunities to deliver real customer value on the sales floor. 

Takeaway:

Giving salespeople access to Corevist for product information, inventory, and pricing takes out friction in the sales process and empowers reps to sell more. Since Corevist Commerce includes full support for cross-sell/upsell within the catalog, our solution suggests related products automatically to help your reps increase the value they offer the customer. With beautiful product images in the catalog, Corevist is “customer-ready” in a sales rep’s hands, whether it’s on mobile/tablet in the showroom, or on a desktop computer in a one-on-one office consultation.

It’s also worth noting that Corevist supports multiple ship-to/sold-to account mapping (essential for sales reps). This ensures that whatever accounts your reps are assigned in SAP, your reps can switch between these accounts in Corevist to process “on-behalf-of” quote/order creation, check credit history and order status, and more.

4. Catalog design is critical to foster adoption 

If it’s hard to find products, or if it’s easy to order the wrong product, your customers will fall back on order entry methods like phone, fax, and email which require the time of a CSR. If you’re going to empower customers with self-service, it needs to work in all scenarios.

Catalog design isn’t only about presenting your products from your perspective. It’s about helping your customers find things—from their perspective. If a customer types in an SKU that doesn’t exist, isn’t available in their sales area, or is discontinued, the eCommerce solution should suggest an alternate product that meets the customer’s needs.

That’s why Corevist Commerce guides your customers using your real product substitution rules from SAP. If your customer types in an invalid SKU, Corevist returns the message from SAP and can substitute an accurate SKU. Check out this post for more: Product Lifecycle Transitions in Corevist Commerce.  

Takeaway:

Choose an SAP-integrated B2B eCommerce solution that empowers customers to buy with 100% self-service. That should include clear presentation of related products, intelligent error messaging, and accurate SKU substitution.

5. Your customers may want more features than you realize

One thing became clear as I talked to our clients’ customers: Those already using Corevist wanted to do more business through Corevist Commerce—something our clients may not realize. Customers wanted things like:

  1.   Warranty claims and returns processing.
  2.   Lookup by Customer Material Number. This feature is available in Corevist if the translations are maintained in SAP.
  3.   Accurate backorder status reporting. This feature is available in Corevist if the data is available in SAP.
  4.   Ability to accept emailed orders.

Takeaway:

Start with the highest-value features which your customers need. Get your eCommerce portal up and running, delivering value. Then, in successive phases, you can roll out the enhancements which got pushed farther down the list.

This is the Corevist method. We prioritize the things your customers need most in Phase I, so you get a powerful web channel that starts earning value immediately. We also help you prioritize ongoing change requests so that in each successive iteration, we deliver the most important enhancements to your customers.

Moving forward: FREE case study

Want to see customer-centric B2B eCommerce in real life? Download this case study on PARI Respiratory. You’ll learn how this medical manufacturer satisfied all stakeholders with Corevist. Dealers got the B2B portal they needed, Marketing got the catalog they needed, and IT got powerful, hands-free SAP integration through Corevist Commerce.   

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FREE Case study: PARI Respiratory

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About Author

, How Your Customers Really Feel About Your Ordering Process

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.