Real-time shipping in a B2B world

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Real-time shipping in a B2B world

Anyone who has shopped online (which these days is almost everyone) has certain expectations about how shipping is calculated. Namely, that it’s calculated immediately, so you know exactly how much shipping will cost when you click that “place order” button.

“Unfortunately, as with many other aspects of eCommerce, shipping is a lot more complicated with B2B orders,” says Corevist Senior Implementation Consultant, Nathan Leach.

“On-the-spot shipping calculations are easier to accomplish in the B2C space because you’re generally dealing with smaller quantities, packages, and volumes of product. With B2B, there are more variables, especially when it comes to the delivery method and other considerations. For example, will the order by shipped in a single box by a parcel carrier, on a pallet via truck freight, or via a large shipping container?” says Leach.

“Typically, with B2B ordering, it’s not until after the customer has placed the order that the shipping is figured out. That means that the customer doesn’t know what the shipping cost is until the order in already in-progress in the SAP system. If the shipping charges turn out to be unexpectedly expensive, the customer may decide they don’t want to receive the order and try to cancel it. That means that the distributor has wasted time prepping the order and now has to spend more time going back and correcting the ‘problem order’ in the system. Assuming it’s even possible…that the order hasn’t already left the facility…that’s still a lot of wasted time, effort, and resources.”

So Corevist took some time to figure how we can integrate shipping information into the order process. How to stop those “problem orders” before they even get into the system.

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“The first thing we had to do was figure out what various carriers had in place to help quote on shipping costs. For this client, we started with FedEx Freight and found out that their published web API gave us a lot of options to work with. After that, we had to work with the client to make sure that the product weights and dimensions data was complete in the SAP Material Master. We needed to have the weight and measurements of each product so we could send FedEx all the information they needed to calculate the specific freight cost. Once the data was in place, we just had to do some development on our SAP API and web portal application to get the information to display as-required on the customer-facing website. This replaced the existing, heavily manual process that required our client’s employee to manually determine the costs and modify the order in SAP.”

“This feature helps our clients and their customers in a number of ways. It takes a big burden off our client’s sales and customer service resources. It helps the buyer plan for their shipping costs more accurately. Maybe most importantly, it gives the customer a much better online shopping experience, similar to what they experience in their personal shopping and have therefore come to expect with regard to their B2B purchasing.”

Contact us to find out more information about this and other improvements Corevist is making to B2B eCommerce.

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About Author

Nathan Leach

Nathan serves as a Senior Implementation Consultant, project manager, and account manager. He began his career as an SAP® technical consultant in 1995, and specializes in custom development, system integration, technical architecture and design, and project management.