Top 2 Keys To A Smooth B2B eCommerce Project

Friction-free B2B eCommerce

B2B eCommerce is a complex initiative which touches all parts of the organization. Customers, customer service, IT, sales, finance, marketing—everyone has a stake in the success of the web channel. How do you handle the complexity of different needs while keeping the project on track?

At Corevist, we believe there are 2 foundational keys to a smooth B2B eCommerce project:

1. Choose a solution with a prebuilt, configurable integration to SAP.

2. Choose a vendor who offers fixed-bid implementations, SAP integration included.

1. Leverage a prebuilt, configurable integration to SAP…

…for a smooth user experience.

ERP integration is essential to a successful web channel. Not only does proper integration reduce the cost and complexity of your architecture—it also gives customers the essential features they need to do business with you. We’re talking about things like:

  • Dynamic, personalized contract pricing (driven by SAP business rules)
  • Real-time inventory/ATP availability (driven by SAP business rules)
  • Personalized catalogs & picklists (driven by SAP business rules)
  • Real-time, self-service credit management (driven by SAP business rules)

…for a lean, efficient eCommerce architecture.

If you don’t have a B2B eCommerce a solution with a prebuilt, configurable integration to SAP, you’ll need some kind of third party entering orders in SAP.

In the case of eCommerce, this usually means one of two things:

  • CSRs (customer service reps) rekeying orders manually into SAP.
  • Middleware running timed batch synchronizations between eCommerce and SAP.

While manual order entry works for low order volumes, it isn’t scalable, as your cost-to-serve will scale up alongside order volume. In essence, this solution is no more efficient than taking orders via phone/fax/email.

Of course, middleware also introduces problems. The 3 standalone systems (eCommerce, middleware, and SAP) each need their own IT resources to keep them up and running. This becomes expensive, and the architectural complexity often prevents organizations from ever solving the integration problem.

, Top 2 Keys To A Smooth B2B eCommerce Project

Above: Middleware-based architecture requires 3 separate IT resources (or teams) to maintain 3 separate systems.

Here’s the real kicker with middleware-based architecture: Because the 3 systems can evolve independently, the integration is never finished. You don’t know what will be required to keep all 3 systems working smoothly together in the future. That makes it difficult to predict the cost to support this architecture.

Corevist’s alternative architecture

We built Corevist products to address this problem. Our direct, real-time integration to SAP is included in every solution, and it’s live on Day 1, no middleware required. Whatever changes you make to SAP are reflected immediately in Corevist Commerce, and Corevist interacts with SAP in real time. You have only one system to maintain—SAP. This means your web channel doesn’t require additional IT resources to deliver the features your customers need.

Learn more here: Our 53 SAP Integration Points.

2. Choose a vendor who offers fixed-bid implementations, SAP integration included.

A conventional B2B eCommerce platform vendor doesn’t cover integration—they only offer a standalone platform, and they depend on third parties to build an architecture in which that platform interacts with your backend system.

That approach puts the platform first, and the integration last—all of it billed by time and materials. The progression usually goes something like this:

1. Vendor: Here’s our standalone platform. Let’s connect you with an SI to implement it.

2. SI: We can implement that, billing for time & materials. We don’t have much experience with SAP, so we’ll connect you with an integration SI to handle that part. In the meantime, we’ll get your B2B eCommerce solution up and running.

3. Integration SI: We see your B2B eCommerce solution has already been launched. We can connect it to SAP, but we’ll need to replicate all your SAP business rules in the middleware solution, and the eCommerce platform will need tweaks to play nice with the middleware solution. We’ll get started on this, billing for time and materials.

Unfortunately, we’ve heard far too many stories of those integrations never getting finished. The complexity may be too great, with too many moving pieces and no coordination between resources.

The Corevist approach is different. We conduct a Technical Discovery Call to get a full picture of your SAP system before any contracts are signed. In fact, this Technical Discovery Call lays the foundation for our fixed-bid estimate. It’s how we ensure that all stones are overturned and everyone understands the scope of your SAP-integrated eCommerce project.

Following the Corevist model, the progression usually looks like this:

Corevist: Thanks for taking the time to do a Technical Discovery Call. Why don’t you show us your SAP system in action so we can see how you handle OTC (order-to-cash) today.

You: Okay, here are our SAP screens for VA01/order creation. And here’s how we handle document flow in the order, delivery note(s), transportation document(s) and billing document(s).

Corevist: Got it! With a few adjustments, it looks like our prebuilt integration will sit on top of your existing SAP configuration and OTC process. We’ll use what we’ve learned on this call to give you a fixed-bid estimate for your SAP-integrated eCommerce solution. The integration will be live on Day 1, and the solution will launch in <90 days.

In other words, our Technical Discovery Call, coupled with our prebuilt integration, provide a firm foundation for your B2B eCommerce project. They allow us to deliver your SAP-integrated B2B eCommerce solution in 90 days, under a fixed-bid model, without unnecessary bloat.

Moving forward: FREE case study

Want to see our SAP-first methodology in real life? Download this case study on LORD Corporation. This leading industrial manufacturer needed to re-platform off an end-of-life solution. They had one stipulation for the new platform: It had to keep SAP at the core. Learn how Corevist Commerce delivered.

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FREE Case study: LORD Corporation

Learn how LORD launched ecommerce that reflects their SAP system in real time.
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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.