Packaging manufacturers face complex challenges when it comes to B2B eCommerce. For customers with warehousing terms, the process of determining requirements, placing orders, and releasing stock is fairly complex.
Today’s leading packaging companies are making life easier for warehousing customers through process automation and self-service.
But how do you get there?
The key is to recognize the challenges and see them in a new light.
Challenge 1: Giving customers clear inventory information
Material requirement planning is quite complex for warehousing customers. You’ve got a single, custom SKU sold to a single customer (rather than one SKU sold to many customers).
Consequently, inventory reporting to customers requires human intervention if you don’t have a self-service portal. Without that portal, you need a customer service rep to examine and interpret data in SAP ERP for communication to the customer.
The customer needs to know a lot of things related to inventory. This leads to back-and-forth communication with your reps to keep them in the loop.
Customers need to know:
- How much stock you have on hand
- How much stock they’ve already requested
- How much stock has been delivered
- How much you still need to produce
- Any anticipated shrinkage
Hint: This is why the Corevist Platform supports dynamic reports from SAP ERP. Customers can get complex inventory reporting in a self-service B2B portal, from SAP in real time—without bothering your reps.
Delighting warehousing customers with self-service
“Having live access to their entire account portfolio enables our customers to trust the information they are seeing. They can self-serve immediately and export data to analyze further as required.”
—Carey Leaman, Emmerson Packaging
Challenge 2: Reducing routine customer service inquiries
Some customer inquiries will always require human intervention. You need your product experts to engage customers, understand their needs, advise on best practices, finalize requirements for a custom SKU, and communicate with manufacturing operations.
But what about the less sophisticated work?
Should your packaging experts spend their time on these tasks?
- Providing routine order status
- Providing routine line-item status
- Providing routine shipment status and tracking numbers
- Answering questions about credit
- Providing routine invoice status
Without a self-service portal integrated to SAP ERP, there’s no way to get off the hamster wheel of human intervention. Every ordering cycle, every stock releasing cycle, will require human help. At scale, that creates a difficult customer experience—and it’s expensive.
Challenge 3: Taking order entry off your reps’ plates
Arguably, your product experts are your most valuable asset when it comes to customer relationships. They know your products, the market, your customers’ needs, and your capabilities as a manufacturer. They stand in the gap between customer requirements and what you can deliver in a timely, cost-effective fashion.
When these experts are forced to rekey orders into SAP ERP, they’re not providing net new value to you and your customers. In fact, all their expertise is put to sleep while they do data entry.
What if you could empower customers to place well-formed orders on their own? Through a self-service portal, on any device?
The path: A self-service customer portal with deep SAP ERP integration
Maybe this sounds impossible. How could you support the complexity of your ordering processes—for warehousing customers—in a self-service portal?
Believe it or not, it’s quite doable as long as your customer portal platform includes deep, prebuilt SAP integration.
Imagine a customer portal that always shows the right information to every logged-in user—even for custom SKUs in SAP. Every customer would get:
- Their personalized inventory availability (including all data points related to the stock releasing process)
- Their personalized pricing
- Their real-time credit status
- Self-service order placement with real-time posting to SAP
- Intelligent error messages (wrong SKU, wrong quantity, etc.) to help them build well-formed orders in the online cart
- Self-service order tracking and status
- Full order history
- Links to carrier tracking numbers
- Full invoice history and status
A self-service portal will free up your reps from mundane order entry and inquiries about orders, inventory, and credit. This empowers reps to act as strategic subject matter experts as they work with customers to determine their requirements for custom packaging SKUs.
At scale, that’s a much better use of your subject matter experts—and the self-service process is easier for customers, too.
Buyer beware: Not all customer portals are created equal
It’s rare to find a self-service customer portal solution that’s actually built to support packaging customers.
In fact, most platforms will require a third-party connector to synchronize data between SAP ERP and the portal.
But synchronized data is problematic. With three systems to maintain, your IT team will find themselves wrestling broken configurations, failed batch jobs, and increasing technical debt.
That’s why we built the Corevist Platform to read and write SAP ERP data in real time. Through our 49 prebuilt SAP integration points, our platform always shows each customer their personalized data. Your IT team maintains only one system—SAP ERP.
Now, if your SAP ERP data is dirty, an integrated portal might seem like the impossible dream. But our clients find great success in using the portal project as a catalyst to clean up SAP. Read more here (scroll down to “Challenge 2 – Dirty data in SAP”): How Packaging Companies Win With B2B eCommerce.
The takeaway: Delighting your warehousing customers doesn’t have to be hard
Customers want self-service. An SAP-integrated portal solution provides that great experience—and it pushes you to maintain business data strictly in SAP, where it belongs.
In other words, a portal not only delights customers, it also pushes you to create a holistic data landscape that has only one source of truth (SAP ERP). That’s better for your customer experience, your internal operations, and your bottom line.
That’s why we built the Corevist Platform.
Want to become Easier To Do Business With?
Check out the Corevist Platform.
Managed B2B portals and eCommerce with prebuilt integration for ECC and S/4HANA.