George Anderson


Order Change in B2B eCommerce


Today’s post marks the end of one blogging experiment for Corevist and the beginning of another.  

The first experiment was designed to see if we could get more Corevist stories published if more of our employees engaged in producing them.  That experiment taught us that we indeed could if we provided our employees assistance in the writing and editing of their blogs.  You see, while everyone at Corevist has interesting stories to tell, they don’t all have the time, or the desire, to wrestle with the process of getting them on paper.

So experiment #2 begins today with the introduction of Sarah Moessinger to the process.  Over the course of the next several weeks Sarah will be interviewing our employees to find out what they’re working on and will be publishing those interviews here.  Today is Sarah’s maiden voyage with us.  We’ll introduce Sarah more formally with her next blog post. I hope you enjoy it.  And as with all of our experiments, you’re feedback is greatly appreciated!


Sarah: Talk to me about why changing orders on a SAP B2B eCommerce Website is so important to providing great customer service.

Sam: Imagine you’re buying a plane ticket to go on a business trip. You browse the airlines’ websites, figure out your dates, look at the available flights, stopovers, departure times, price and pick the best ticket based on those parameters. And then you buy the ticket. The next day, your customer calls and changes the date of the meeting, so you have to change your ticket. If you’ve bought it on any major airline except for Southwest, you’re looking at a minimum of a $150 change fee plus any additional costs if the fare has changed. On Southwest, there’s no change fee and any additional costs are completely transparent. To carry the analogy further, you can continue to change your ticket on Southwest until the plane door closes. That is great customer service and that concept can, and should, be transferable to your SAP B2B eCommerce Website.

Sarah: So let me understand, you’re saying a customer using a SAP B2B eCommerce Website can change orders even after the order has been changed? I thought that once a customer hits the “place order” button he’s created a contract and that can only be changed by calling customer service?

Sam: Yes and no. Think about the airline analogy again. Except for Southwest, changing a ticket once it has been bought is expensive and can be time consuming. Southwest allows for a pretty big “window” to change tickets and there’s no additional cost to the traveler except for the fare change. Technically, every airline can adopt Southwest’s change ticket policy.  Frankly, I wish American Airlines would adopt that policy because they are my preferred airline thanks to my 2 Million miles traveled on them.  But the fact that they don’t is a matter of policy.  

Corevist’s software has always provided the technical capability to allow end-users to change their orders once they’ve been placed.  However, up until this month, none of our clients have chosen to take advantage of it.  We’re finally fortunate enough to have a client implementing that capability this month.

Sarah: I imagine it’s really complicated because there are so many parts to an order and changing one item can affect the whole order. For example, I know when I shop on that if I want expedited shipping, it’s going to cost me extra.

Sam: That’s why being able to change an order after it has been placed provides such great service. Any change you make on during the ordering process is transparent to you. But once you place the order, it’s done. Our customer, LORD, provides world-class customer service to their end-users by allowing them to make changes AFTER they’ve placed an order. They’ve implemented a pretty simple rule that aligns with how their business runs. LORD won’t begin processing orders placed on the website until midnight of the day they’ve been placed.  Up until midnight, their customers can make unlimited changes to their orders via the eCommerce website.   Of course, unbeknownst to their customers, every change they make is available to LORD for inspection which brings up interesting business intelligence questions.  Why did they delete that line item?  Did it have anything to do with our availability, price?  But that’s a whole other conversation!

Sarah: What aspects of the order can they change?

Sam: They can change anything in the order, at the header or line item levels, and the impact of those changes are conveyed to the user in real time…up until the moment that the “plane door” closes at midnight.

For example, if the customer changes the delivery date or location, that might trigger a change in the carrier which could alter shipping costs.  The beauty of the software is that all those changes are completely transparent in real time to the customer.  If the customer makes changes to the items, that may affect the ATP date or pricing promotions. Corevist makes all that information immediately available to the customer so he can make an informed decision based on his business needs. For most manufacturers the change order time frame ends when the manufacturing or delivery process begins and that varies greatly depending on the industry and manufacturer.  We have some clients who process all orders received by 4PM EST on the same day.  Their change order window would be much different than LORD’s.

Sarah: Since the window to change orders varies so much I assume each manufacturer can individually decide what the change order time frame should be based on their business needs and policies.

Sam: Exactly. Think of it this way—if we look back at the airline analogy, does a Corevist client want to be Southwest, with its great customer service, or another airline, that charges exorbitant fees for making changes after a transaction has occurred? Here’s an opportunity to be seen as flexible, providing great service at low or no cost to end users by allowing them to make changes up until the time a manufacturer “closes the door.”  We at Corevist believe that the decision to become a world class service organization should be a matter of policy and should not be determined by the limitations of the eCommerce platform.  

Now if only American Airlines would read this blog!