Putting Your B2B Portal to Work In 3rd Party Warehouses

Extending Your B2B Portal to Third Parties

A B2B customer portal has to work for all parties involved. But that gets complicated when you outsource some portion of your warehousing and fulfillment process to a third party.

One of our clients, a B2B manufacturer, encountered this exact problem recently. The manufacturer’s supply chain lives in SAP, from top to bottom, but they outsource warehousing and fulfillment to a third party. They needed to streamline the fulfillment process and eliminate manual calls from the third party to their CSRs, which happened every time a shipment was leaving the warehouse.

Here’s how the manufacturer used their B2B customer portal to streamline this process.

The problem: Third party warehouse = massive CSR workload for daily fulfillment operations

Every time the third party warehouse needed to perform a PGI (post goods issue), third party employees had to make a phone call to the manufacturer’s Customer Service department. Obviously, this wasn’t a scalable process. It was costing the manufacturer a lot of time and money.

The third party warehouse employees needed some kind of access to SAP. That way, they could input orders and PGIs themselves.

The trouble was figuring out how to give them access to SAP.

Open up SAP to third party workers?

This was the most obvious option. Essentially, this solution meant treating the third party warehouse employees like the manufacturer’s own CSRs as far as SAP access was concerned. But that wasn’t ideal. Here’s what that would’ve entailed:

  • Get the third party employees licensed on SAP
  • Give them secure network access to SAP, onsite at the warehouse
  • Give them SAP GUI
  • Train them on SAP

That presented a lot of cost and risk. The manufacturer decided there had to be another way.

Third-party access through an SAP ordering portal

Direct access to SAP presented too much risk and expense, so the manufacturer decided to extend their Corevist Commerce customer portal to third party warehouse employees.

It was a brilliant move. The manufacturer’s B2B portal is integrated to SAP in real time, which means it gives third party employees only the capabilities they need.

In this case, the manufacturer needed to extend the functionality of their Corevist customer portal to meet the needs of third party warehousing. Here’s how the Corevist team delivered on those needs.

Custom Extension: PGI (Post goods issue) for third party workers

Third party employees needed the ability to perform PGI (post goods issue) in SAP, which is the point at which the product physically leaves the warehouse.

The kicker? Those employees needed the ability to perform PGI through the Corevist customer portal. That would give them the power to process deliveries in real time in SAP without needing access to SAP or training on SAP. (Note: that’s because Corevist Commerce is easy to use for anyone who’s ever bought something online as a B2C consumer.)

This PGI functionality is incredibly powerful. It actually pulls the specific batch for the delivery, if a batch has been specified. Depending on privileges, the user can see all possible shipping points, or just those that are relevant to their job. The set of locations which each user sees is fully configurable by the admin.

Once the user selects a shipping point, they can see specific deliveries for that shipping point that are waiting to be sent out. The user can grab any one of these and actually post goods issue.

What this means

Previously, for outgoing deliveries, the third party warehouse staff had to call or email the manufacturer’s staff. They had to get a hold of someone and report which deliveries were going out, which batches were involved, and so on.

Now the third party warehouse workers can do it themselves—with no interaction from the manufacturer’s employees.

This saves everyone time and money. It’s more efficient, and it’s a fantastic expansion of the manufacturer’s Corevist Commerce portal.

The Takeaway

The moral of the story is, if you have a B2B customer ordering platform, you can extend it to partners, contractors, and anyone who needs to perform self-service actions.  

If the manufacturer hadn’t already had a B2B customer portal in place, they could not have extended it to third party warehouse workers. Because the manufacturer committed to a digital platform to streamline their business processes, they were able to meet the needs of these third party employees while simultaneously reducing their own operating expenses (eliminating manual calls from the warehouse to the manufacturer). That’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Moving forward: FREE case study

If you’re curious about B2B customer portals and what they can do for all stakeholders, download this FREE case study on Blount International. You’ll learn how Blount’s distributors, dealers, and internal users got the ecommerce portal they needed—integrated to SAP, live in 90 days.

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About Author

George Anderson

George serves as Digital Marketing Manager. A blogger and journalist with a passion for B2B ecommerce, he has written for the Magento blog, Digitalcommerce360, Supply & Demand Chain Executive, ERPgenie, and others.