The Question of Rekeying Orders
“Our customers are already entering their orders into their own purchasing or ERP systems; they don’t want to come to our website and do it again.”
I heard it again today.
For over 20 years, supply chain executives have been using this very real customer objection in order to stall investments in a B2B Customer Portal.
Then they follow up with the question, “What value does your B2B eCommerce solution provide that will help us overcome that objection?”
It’s a two parter. The first part is strategy, and the second part is architecture.
Strategy (let’s cover all your customer segments)
First a question.
Why does Amazon sell books in hardcover, paperback, digital and audio formats? Why not just pick one format and be done with it?
Because they want to be as customer-friendly, to as many customers as possible, and to cater to as many different reading styles as possible.
Don’t you have the same objective? Don’t you want to sell as much product as you can at the highest profit possible? Don’t you also want to diversify your customer base so that you don’t put “all of your eggs in one basket”?
If that’s the case, then you will always be a “multi-channel” seller of products. There are no silver bullets when it comes to distribution channels (or the technologies that support their order to cash processes). You have a spectrum of customers, so you’ll need to have a spectrum of ways to interact with them.
Your most important customers will force you to accommodate them. These are the customers that will never rekey their orders twice. Try telling Walmart to place an order on your B2B Portal.
Your smallest customers will do business your way. Try speaking to a human being at Spotify.
And for all of those customers in between, you’ll have to meet them where they are, both geographically and preference-wise. That could be:
- in their language and currency,
- via a sales representative,
- on the phone,
- in your email inbox,
- on your fax machine (yes, they still exist),
- on Amazon, Facebook, or some other marketplace,
- on a purchasing network like the Ariba Network,
- or on their own internal purchasing system via Punchout.
Architecture (let’s leverage your existing SAP ERP investment)
How is a manufacturer to survive? How do you tame the complexity which comes with supporting all of these sales channels?
With the right architecture.
The key is to centralize the business or “commerce” onto one platform. SAP does this brilliantly, but it requires discipline to set up and maintain. Our best clients have made the commitment to run their businesses in SAP. One single source of truth for Customers, Finances, Products, Orders, Inventory, Deliveries, etc.
Corevist then extends that core SAP commerce system to the web. Your customers get a single, centralized source of data and business rules—and it’s accessible through a simple, easy to use, interface.
For those customers who are happy with a 24×7 self-service portal to satisfy all of their order-to-cash needs, all they need is a browser.
Your EDI customers can come to the portal to self-service all of their customer service needs except for order placement if they wish:
- Document reprints (invoices, bill of ladings, COAs etc.)
- Order status
- Order tracking
- Invoice payment
- Price and availability checking
Your customers who order via email can continue to send you their email orders, but they can also come to the portal to fix any orders which can’t be placed as sent. They won’t be rekeying their orders, but they can expedite fixing them in order to shorten any delivery delays. Of course, they can also self-service all of the above capabilities as well.
Your Enterprise punchout clients can get contract pricing and confirm product availability before they process their orders within their own internal purchasing systems.
Want to become easier to do business with? Let your customers dictate the journey. Let that be your strategy. Let SAP be at the heart of your architecture and enable your customers to interact with it the way they see fit.
Your customers don’t want to rekey their orders? No problem. Let them have it their way.
Just don’t ignore the rest of your customers in the process.
Moving forward: FREE case study
Want to see what B2B portal adoption looks like in real life? Download this case study on Blount International. You’ll learn how this leading manufacturer of forestry equipment launched Corevist Order Tracking, gained customer buy-in for the portal, then expanded the solution to Corevist Commerce in numerous geographies. The result? 325% digital revenue growth.