Categories: Founder's Blog


Sam Bayer


How to optimize your SAP ecommerce website

Bell and Howell’s Parts Ordering Website has now been live for almost 10 months.  In that period of time, the number of visits per day have doubled, the number of orders have quadrupled, and overall revenue has grown 8-fold.  From a business perspective, Bell and Howell’s SAP® Integrated B2B website is, by far, exceeding all expectations.  However, from a Customer Service Representative perspective, the situation wasn’t as rosy.

You see, from their perspective, there were a few small “issues” with the website that were now being magnified as overall usage was growing.  Those issues were generating support calls that were starting to add up to some serious time on the phone with customers, not to mention the negative impact they were having on customer satisfaction.

The goal of every SAP® Integrated B2B eCommerce website project should be to maximize the number of “hands free” aka “zero defect” orders that are processed via the web.  The more human interaction that is required to intervene with product, availability, pricing and shipping issues, the less the website will be used and will eventually (if not quickly) implode on itself.  So this past week, our team in collaboration with Bell and Howell’s CSRs, spent a bit of time optimizing the flow of orders through the system.  Here are some of the issues that we worked on with them.  For the record, these changes took less than 2 staff days worth of work by the Corevist team and not only are they covered by Bell and Howell’s annual allotment of free support hours, but the return on investment will be realized within days of implementation.

  1. Restrict ordering certain parts – This is a classic case of CSRs having “tribal knowledge” about ordering processes that now have to be codified on the website.  Basically, customers in Canada were unknowingly ordering parts from US warehouses.  The “right way” to solve this problem is to clean up master data in SAP®, or the expedient way is to implement a one line business rule on the website.  In this case we chose expediency.
  2. Improve shipping method selection –  Because of a limited selection of shipping methods, the ambiguous description of the ones that existed and a user interface quirk that had an unpopular selection setup as the default, a lot of shipping method selection errors were generating many phone calls to CSRs.  All of these issues were taken care of in this update.
  3. Improved International Commercial Terms (Inco terms) handling – These are defined in the SAP® Customer Master and weren’t being displayed and handled on the website as effectively as they should.  Customers who wanted to use their own FedEx accounts were especially having a difficult time and had to resort to picking up the phone to resolve their issues.  Not any longer.
  4. Deliver personalized textual ordering information – SAP® makes provisions to define specific header texts for individual customers depending on their unique customer number.  While initially the decision was made not to expose these text fields on the website, 10 months of experience changed everyone’s mind (you’re allowed to change your mind :-)).  Customers now are presented with personalized information during their ordering process that sets their expectations about the order which obviates those calls to CSRs.
  5. Levy a surcharge on credit card orders – The business wanted to accelerate the conversion of one time parts buyers to account holders.  The policy was to add a surcharge for credit card orders which would provide an incentive to establish an account.  The requirement was to make that surcharge perfectly clear on the website and funnel users to the “sign up” process.  I hope we’re now tracking new account signups!?
  6. Disallow drop ship orders for Canada – US customers who have ship to locations in both the US and Canada were using our drop ship capability to ship orders to Canada.  This turned out to be a problem for Customer Services because Canadian orders had to be shipped from a Canadian warehouse, not dropped shipped from a US warehouse.  This logic needs to be implemented in SAP® but until then, the website is going to prevent orders that are placed from the US to be drop shipped shipped to Canada and will have to be phoned in…for now.
  7. Fix a few bugs – believe it or not, there were a few – some programmer left some text on one screen and forgot to put an “add to cart” button on a product search results page.  It happens :-).

In summary, I want to point out two things:

  1. You’re never done. Once you go live with your SAP® Integrated B2B eCommerce website, you’re not done with the project.  In fact, you’ll never be “done”.  You should always be striving towards generating more revenue more efficiently.
  2. Corevist has your back.  It’s great to have a partner who understands your business and your specific implementation.  It’s also great to have a partner who is incentivized to solve your eCommerce challenges quickly as opposed to seeing you as a services revenue cash cow.

Next time you get a bank statement, insurance invoice or utility invoice in the mail, think of Bell and Howell and think of Corevist.  We’re just doing our job :-).