What are typical B2B ecommerce features?
There are many e-commerce suppliers that claim to deliver integrated solutions. However, only very few actually do – the majority delivers web stores that are interfaced. With interfaced e-commerce, the software solution is installed on top of the ERP system, meaning that the connection between the business logic and database of the ERP is setup manually. Information that is available in the ERP is being duplicated into the e-commerce software, thus having its own database that is being synchronized constantly. In short – interfaced web stores needlessly cost money and time.
There are a lot of benefits of integrated e-commerce. Sana Commerce has even defined 36 benefits based on their customers’ experiences and shares the most important ones here.
Customer specific pricing
With an ERP integrated e-commerce solution, your price calculations will take place in your ERP system, not in your e-commerce platform. This means your web store supports customer specific pricing out of the box. So there is no need for custom software development to have your e-commerce platform mimic the pricing rules of your ERP system. From this your customer benefits because he can be sure that when placing an order online, all prices are up to date and that an online order always reflects their own negotiated prices.
Just like customer specific pricing, straightforward product discounts in your online web store will be handled by your ERP system if you have an ERP integrated e-commerce platform. Think of discounts triggered by a combination of products, or discounts based on a total order value threshold. There is no need for you to manage pricing in two different places and therefor inconsistency between ERP and the web store cannot exist.
If you use tier pricing in your ERP and you have an ERP integrated e-commerce platform, then tier pricing is by default available in your web store. Your ERP system knows how to handle tier pricing in combination with other pricing rules as mentioned before. The more advanced your pricing rules and trade agreements are in your ERP, the more you will benefit from an ERP integrated e-commerce solution. For your customer this means being able to login on your web store and to see on the spot whether the applicable tier pricing makes it attractive for him to order more of the same product at the same time.
Customer specific product catalogs
Companies use customer specific product catalogs for different reasons. They can use it for defining which products should be available for which customers, based on region or the customer permissions (right to buy certain products/brands). Or they can use customer specific catalogs for instance to create customer favorites lists, to bundle white label products in one catalog or to compose lists with product suggestions.
If you use customer specific product catalogs in your ERP and you have an ERP integrated e-commerce platform, then these customer product catalog rules are instantly available on your web store. There is no need to synchronize this complex data structure to your e-commerce system. Every customer will see only those items online that you allowed to be visible for them in your ERP system. Your customers will have a personalized shopping experience since they will only see the products which are available/relevant to them.
Real-time order placement
One of the major advantages of ERP integrated e-commerce platforms is real-time order placement. These platforms are using the ERP to calculate, validate and save the order directly in the ERP. All logic in the ERP system related to customer pricing, charges, handling fees, shipping cost, payment costs and tax are used for this. Validation is done instantly and the order is saved in the ERP system’s database and sits there ready for further processing. No mistakes on pricing, stock issues or forgotten charges/costs can happen. No orders will be lost in complex synchronization tasks and there is no need to wait for the orders to be synchronized.
Based on his order history a customer is able to easily place a re-order. ERP integrated e-commerce platforms are able to offer this feature based on all orders and invoices which are stored the ERP system. Both online and offline placed orders and invoices can be used as a starting point for a new order. You do not have to worry about pricing differences or product availability, because the new order will be validated and calculated by the latest logic and data within the ERP. Again, no room for mistakes.
The ERP system stores a lot of data. This data covers order history, invoices, returns and shipping documents. ERP integrated e-commerce platforms can easily access all this information and all these documents, which is a great benefit over non-integrated (or interfaced) e-commerce platforms. With non-integrated e-commerce platforms usually only data and documents related to e-commerce, based on orders placed through the web store, are available. For these platforms migrating all the order history data from the ERP database to the e-commerce database is usually too complex and expensive.
Supplying your customer with a full searchable and printable document life cycle: from quote to order and from order to invoice and shipping documents is a very powerful benefit of ERP integrated e-commerce. With such a solution even returns and credit notes from the ERP can be accessed easily by the customers online. Not just for his e-commerce orders but for all orders placed by phone, e-mail, EDI, web store and other sources. Supplying this information to your customers online saves you a lot of time. Normally a customer would call or e-mail for a shipping status or to check on an invoice. Now this customer can just access these documents when and wherever he wants (24/7) without having to contact you.
In B2B e-commerce you often deal with large product catalogs and products with many attributes. In order to offer a well converting, user friendly web store, your customers must be able to quickly find what they are looking for. An ERP integrated e-commerce platform allows you to easily define which product attributes coming from the ERP system should be used for your site’s search function. This can be done by selecting the item fields or attributes directly from the ERP’s item card fields.
Moreover, if you offer “faceted search” in your web store for customers to navigate through your online product catalog, this “facets” can also come directly from the ERP system if you have an ERP integrated e-commerce platform. Also in this case you can simply select the item card’s attributes you would like to provide as “facets” in your web store’s (guided) navigation panel and you are good to go.