eCommerce PunchOut is a little-understood (and rarely supported) function for most B2B eCommerce...
Interfaced versus Integrated... The Elephant in the Room
A great way to measure the uptake of eCommerce across the globe is to go to Google and search on eCommerce Solutions. I did it recently and Google came back with 9,240,000 hits in 0.14 seconds.
Whilst there are probably not 9 million eCommerce solutions on the market there are certainly thousands, and here in Australia we come across hundreds.
A common question that we are asked by prospective customers is….’ I want to drive a multi-channel sales and service strategy, connect with my customers 24/7 and open up new markets. How do I provide the same pricing and business rules online as I do through my customer support team who are accessing my PRONTO system?’
This question and the answer that you receive from your eCommerce IT partner is critical to the future success of delivering a true multi-channel sales and service eCommerce solution for your business.
As your IT team will be aware, it is not too difficult to interface to stock master, debtor master and sales order files in your ERP system…….but the proverbial “elephant in the room” is how do we expose all the business, customer, and inventory logic and business rules to your web channel?
The answer is - it is not easy - and coming from an accounting background I always like to do the ‘checks and balances’ test to ensure that a sales order placed on the web is the same as when entered by one of your customer support team. So you will ask what are the ‘checks and balances’ that I should look for when considering which eCommerce solution to choose ….Here’s my checklist:
Are all the complex pricing rules I have set up in PRONTO obeyed on the web?
Can the web obey stock security rules that control which of my customers can buy different products?
Does the sales order created online add up EXACTLY to what it would if it were entered in PRONTO? Price and discount rounding and GST calculations can be different for every ERP system, and even between different versions of the same ERP system.
Can ANY data from PRONTO be integrated and shown to my customers without custom coding to the web application?
Does the integration extend to accounts, order tracking, freight tracking, etc.?
Will the application support future releases of PRONTO? And what will it cost me to keep up to date with PRONTO?
How well does my web team really understand how my business runs on a day to day basis and how this can be exposed to my customers?
In delivering any eCommerce project the ‘elephant will be in the room’. The secret is how to leverage its size and power and not get trampled!