Optimizing B2B shipping with ecommerce
As consumers (at least here in the USA), we’re all used to finding those smiley logo emblazoned packages on our doorstep that were delivered by that “on a mission” brown suited UPS delivery person. But in the B2B world, the world that b2b2dot0 mostly lives in, products don’t always fit in such tidy little packages. A lot of deliveries are made by truckloads, tanker cars or even in containers on ships. Today’s post is about a really cool customization that we’re building for one of our clients. We’re helping their customers build orders that optimize the loading of products into seafaring shipping containers. That’s because no one wants to pay good money to ship air across the oceans.
Normally, the process of negotiating and placing over-seas orders could take days…days filled with faxes, emails and phone calls. The steps go something like this:
- First your customer assembles a spreadsheet of the products, quantities and requested delivery dates in an order form (spreadsheet).
- They fax/email it to you and you put it in a queue to be processed.
- You attempt to enter the order and determine what’s in stock, or will be by the time they expect to receive their order.
- If you uncover any bad product numbers, out of stock items, ship to address inconsistencies, etc etc. you’re back in communication with your customer.
- Once you get all that sorted out, you try and pack the order in shipping containers. If the quantities are such that you’re left with too much empty space in a container, you’re back in communication with your customer.
- Assuming they accept your recommendation to order more product to fill up the container, you’re finally ready to place the order and schedule it for shipment.
What if… your customer could do all of that by themselves, on a website, in real time, at their leisure, without any assistance from you?
In a few weeks time, that is going to be the reality for one of our clients.
They will have their Distributors who reside all over the world place real time orders against their SAP system that have zero defects, require no manual intervention, and are packed snug as a bug for their long journeys over seas.
From a technical perspective, our core b2b2dot0 service handles all of the checking of the SAP ordering business rules in our shopping cart as a standard process. Our client has contracted with Cube Master Online for their web based load optimization services. We hooked up the Cube Master service to our shopping cart to produce the following screen:
From this one place, our client’s customers will now be able to:
- Verify that they’ve entered the right product numbers
- That all products ordered are available
- That they are receiving their contract pricing
- That all of the information required of them (PO Number etc.) are entered
- That shipping containers are loaded optimally
- Place the order
- Instantly receive an order confirmation with an SAP Order number
Now that’s the way to make sure that the order entry process is smooth sailing for everyone concerned! :-)
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