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The buyer of a B2B eCommerce Platform beware!

The patron of a B2B eCommerce Platform beware!

At EDI Here we meet a lot of organizations embarking on ecommerce journeys for the first time – as well as organizations that are reconsidering their current platform in the light of changed requirements or lack of trust for their current vendors’ capabilities.

The most fundamental issue is to be clear on your current needs and try to anticipate future growth…

One of the biggest errors we see organisations make is the purchase of B2C ecommerce platforms when, in fact, they require a more sophisticated B2B eCommerce Platform.

It seems that organisations make this mistake because the B2C platform is often cheaper and, on the surface, may look glossy.  In reality there is nothing worse than purchasing a technology platform that you quickly discover lack key functionality, cannot grow with your needs, and requires your IT team to develop new code, thus creating an on-going maintenance nightmare.  In our experience the most fundamental issue is to be clear on your current needs and try to anticipate future growth – then purchase a functionally complete platform with ‘business patterns’ to fit your industry type.  But anything less is a false economy.

Be clear, there is a world of difference between a B2C ecommerce platform and one expressly designed with B2B enterprise class functionality. It is easy to imagine the difference. Think of yourself buying a book on Amazon and how easy it is to search, find, purchase and complete this simple transaction.  Amazon has excellent functionality and fit for purpose.

A world away from the simple purchases you or I might make as a consumer…

Now imagine a slightly more complex situation of yourself as a corporate buyer, possible working for a large retailer, and wanting to order a range of paint products for your homewares department.  Firstly, as a corporate buyer you will probably be bound by the purchasing governance processes developed by the retailer – your ecommerce platform need to accommodate this.  Your screens also need to be tailored to fit the retailer’s branding, processes and workflows.  Secondly you might be purchasing multiple items, in various quantities, and requiring these items to be shipped to many different locations.  You might also have to update your ERP system where the multiple line items ordered get posted to different general ledger account and cost centre codes.  Finally you might require multi lingual and multi current support.

This later example is a world away from the simple purchases you or I might make as a consumer.  The software required to support either situation is quite different – despite ostensibly performing the same task.  To build this additional functionality would be expensive and a maintenance nightmare.

Not every B2B eCommerce platform is equal…

There are many other examples of the sophistication need to claim an enterprise class B2B ecommerce platform.  Buyer self services to improve the speed and accuracy of the buying process, ‘punchout’ capability to link to your procurement software, and many more.

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