When it comes to the supply chain, there’s a lot to keep track of: procurement and delivery, planning and logistics, inventory and distribution. And in today’s business environment, there’s now one more to add to the list: e-commerce.
Business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations like Amazon have taken this e-commerce initiative by the horns — empowering customers with tools that make online shopping for everything from home goods to groceries effortless. On the other hand, business-to-business (B2B) companies are struggling to adapt.
While the B2C market perfected the click-to-purchase feature and focused on delivering a great customer experience, the B2B segment remained stuck on handling business as usual. Which isn’t to say that’s a waste, as they often deal with complex orders and managing numerous suppliers and manufacturers with manual processes. But now, there’s a better way for B2B organizations to support an e-commerce strategy: automation.
Embracing a cloud-based automation solution makes it easy to engage with and manage business relationships from a single, web-based platform. In doing so, companies get a leg up on competition while benefitting from newfound efficiency, cost and time savings, and an improved customer experience throughout the supply chain.
How Automating B2B E-Commerce Benefits the Supply Chain
- Diminished Operational Costs
Automating your B2B e-commerce processes reduces physical labor, supplies used and errors — hard and soft costs associated with the supply chain. That means no more worrying about the added costs of reprocessing an order, reshipping goods and issuing credits. Plus, with a cloud-based solution, there’s no reliance on in-house infrastructure to process documents and no hardware or software investment involved.
- Reduced Order Receipt-to-Delivery Times
By minimizing the number of manual tasks involved from order reception to goods delivery and filling the gaps that traditional software (or manual methods) can’t, an automation solution creates a streamlined workflow that delivers goods to customers quickly and accurately. In an e-commerce environment where buyers can place orders 24/7/365, the ability to rapidly deliver and fulfill those orders is extremely important to the customer experience.
- Fewer Order Errors
An online automation solution removes the need for staff to hand-key in orders — eliminating errors that naturally occur in a manual order-entry process. A mix of intelligent data capture technology ensures that you are sending the right product to the right place at the right time, avoiding costly errors along the way and boosting supplier confidence in your ability to deliver on SLAs.
- Process All Order Types
It doesn’t matter whether an order arrives via fax, phone, email or EDI, built-in and taught workflow rules are there to ensure all required data is accurately extracted. No need to rely on IT to resolve order processing issues or worry about an entire batch of EDI orders failing. Less time spent worrying about and manually processing various order formats = more time to spend improving the customer experience across the supply chain.
- Increased Control & Insight
Built-in, customizable dashboards containing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) give organizations the visibility and control needed to: meet cutoff times; mitigate risks; know when an order has been received, confirmed and shipped; avoid overtime costs; meet customer SLAs; and ship next-day versus same-day air. It also gives managers the ability to monitor staff performance based on categories like orders processed per day and average time to process an order.
B2B companies looking to enter the e-commerce market should find a solution that fits their current needs, yet is flexible enough that it will be able to meet future needs — because in business and in life, change is inevitable.