Adding New Users in SAP eCommerce
How do you add a new user to your SAP B2B eCommerce store? In the B2C world, adding a new user is a simple matter—you just allow them to sign up. You aren’t too concerned about who they are, because you know you’ll get paid via credit card.
But that’s not how B2B works.
In B2B, you have to vet a new customer to find out if they’re really fit to do business with you. That complicates the process of registering a new user to the B2B eCommerce site. How do you deal with this complexity?
The key is to set up a logical workflow for each new customer—then stick to it. In this article, we’ll outline the 2 initial steps you need to take (checking for a duplicate account, and customer vetting), as well as 3 possible processes which you can use after these steps to get a new user registered. HINT: We recommend Process #3.
But first, let’s cover those initial steps.
Step 1: Duplicate account check
Every user registration process will start with a web form. The customer fills out the form and submits it. Before you move on to any of the steps below, you want to check the web form data for duplicate entries. The last thing any organization wants is 5 records of the same end user. Tracking that data, and trying to consolidate it into one record, is a nightmare.
Not only is this an IT problem, but it’s irritating for your customers as well. If they don’t use the website often, they may forget that they have an account already. If they can’t remember creating an account with you, they may return to the website and set up a duplicate account. If your process doesn’t catch these duplicate signups, your customer may log in with a new account and find that none of her order history is visible–because she placed those orders under her original account.
You can eliminate this issue by checking for duplicates at the time of signup. This feature is built into our solution, and it runs automatically. Here’s how it works. We ask the user for their email address, then we check the database to see if there is already a user with that email. If so, we ask them to reset the password. If not, then they can continue with the registration.
Step 2: Customer vetting
Why not just generate the new customer master record automatically, after signup? Why throw in a workflow that requires human attention?
To put it simply, it’s a slippery slope to allow anyone with an internet connection to sign up as a B2B eCommerce user. B2B customers must be vetted—for 2 reasons.
Reason 1: Payments and credit history
In a B2C scenario, yes, you can just accept a new customer with no vetting. Consumers pay by credit card. They don’t have an A/R history or business credit history. You’re getting the money guaranteed from the bank.
But in a true B2B scenario, when you’re not accepting credit cards, you absolutely need to vet new customers. You can’t just do a street validation on the address and accept the order. You may never get paid.
Now, there is one situation where you can have your cake and eat it, too. You can process a first order via credit card, in real time. Then you can move the customer into the vetting process and, if they pass, feed them into one of the 3 onboarding methods below so they are set up as a permanent sold-to before they place their next order.
Reason 2: Legality check
Depending on your market, you may need to vet your new customer application for legality before you offer them products or services. Some industries (for example, flammable products) must vet their customers against a database service to make sure that the new customer isn’t going to use those flammable products to make explosives. There’s a vetting service that you can use. This process includes a compliance check to ensure that the customer you’re trying to do business with isn’t on a watchlist.
Obviously, it’s more efficient to vet the customer at the new user registration stage than to do it later. You don’t want to send every B2B order through that process. This way, you vet and validate (or reject) a customer once.
Once a customer has been vetted and accepted, you can move them into a registration process. There are 3 processes which we recommend. I’ll list them now in order of least efficient to most efficient.
Process 1: Signup generates an email to Customer Service
This process requires a human touch to get the new customer’s data into SAP. After the new customer has been approved, an email with the customer’s information is generated and sent to Customer Service. A CSR has to rekey that data manually into SAP to complete the customer’s registration. This isn’t the most efficient method, but it works in specific use cases. For example, if you have a very unique product that has little competition (and non-urgent delivery expectations), your customers may not mind a protracted registration process.
However, companies at the other end of this spectrum usually can’t afford to insert that delay into the process. If you sell products that are closer to true commodities, and if your customers need the product as fast as possible, this process will damage your business. It will result in a lost order–or worse, a lost customer.
Process 2: Signup generates a workflow in SAP
This process is a little more efficient than the previous one. Instead of the signup form generating an email to Customer Service, it generates a workflow process in SAP to kick off the customer master creation process. You could think of this as “data staging.” This process takes the web form data and drops it into a database in SAP.
There are several ways to move this data into SAP. For example, you can have the data update the accounts in the order and put a temporary block on the order. Then the Customer Service team can monitor these blocked orders and initiate the master data creation process.
Another way to execute Process 2 is to use a custom transaction to create customers. This kicks off an email to the master data team to use the custom transactions to create the customer master record.
Either way, a CSR can easily click a few buttons within SAP to onboard the customer instead of having to rekey the data manually.
Process 3 (Hands-free): Signup generates a quote and related workflow in SAP with minimum error
We love automated, integrated solutions. They tend to be error-free and resource-friendly. This is the most sophisticated registration method, and it’s great for high-volume onboarding. Let’s look at how it works.
The customer fills out a web form, and it formally creates a quote in SAP. That quote, in turn, kicks off the customer master workflow process, using a 1-time sold-to. This 1-time sold-to is only used for the initial quote. A CSR still needs to go in and convert that 1-time sold-to into a permanent sold-to. Then all future orders are placed against that permanent sold-to.
This method allows you to get the customer on board quickly. It’s also the most competitive method because you’re showing them pricing and availability. That real-time business data gives the new customer an incentive to do business with you.
Is this method appropriate for every business case? No. If you get 1 new customer a month, it’s cheaper to onboard them using a manual process. But if you get 1 new customer a minute, this process is the most elegant solution.
To determine which method to use, start by setting 2 benchmarks for your new user registration process:
- Time required to register
- Effort required to register
Then look at each benchmark from two perspectives:
- Your customer’s needs (how fast does your competition complete registration?)
- Your business requirements (analyze the cost of your onboarding process)
Research your customer’s needs. How long do they expect to wait to get registered and fulfill that first order? If your competition promises 24 hours, you need to do it that fast or faster.
From the perspective of your business needs, inherit the duration goal from the customer perspective. If the customer wants to be registered and fulfilling an order in 24 hours, then you have your mandate. In addition, you need to consider:
- The predicted number of orders you’ll get
- How much time you want to spend per order to meet your SLA
- The capacity that you have to service those orders
To meet your customer mandate, you’ll have to allocate resources. You can choose Process 1, 2, or 3, depending on how many resources you can devote to new user registration. Ultimately, you need to ask yourself: Which method is right for my business? If you have any questions on choosing a New User Registration process, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Let’s talk SAP eCommerce.