PARI Respiratory Equipment launches new Magento eCommerce site with real-time SAP integration
This was a really fun project,” said Ashley Weigand, PARI’s Director of Marketing for US and Canada.
‘Fun’ might not be the most-used adjective to describe an SAP integration project—especially one that involved a US-based division, German-based headquarters and SAP IT resources, and a cloud-based hybrid SAP application.
PARI Respiratory Equipment develops and manufactures products that continually advance the science of respiratory care. This 106-year-old company has headquarters in Germany and territories in the US, Japan, China, Russia, and the UK.
Everyone wanted something.
PARI’s dealers and distributors wanted a web-based B2B ordering system.
PARI’s US marketing department wanted a user-friendly, attractive interface for the product catalog. They also wanted a flexible, easy-to-use content management tool so they could “control” the language and images on the catalog site.
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The IT department along with marketing wanted to build the website using Magento, a popular eCommerce platform. (Magento’s low entry cost and large community of developers and partners made it the platform of choice.)
And everyone wanted real-time SAP integration.
PARI’s SAP team—located at the company’s international headquarters in Germany—wanted to make sure that SAP integration with a B2B eCommerce site didn’t do anything to compromise SAP data integrity or business processes.
Why they wanted it.
In early 2012, more than 60% of orders placed with PARI-US were received via fax, email and telephone. In an age where customers have come to expect 24×7 online access, processing orders over the telephone was losing its appeal.
“We had two major goals for this project,” said Dale Anderson, PARI’s CFO. “First and foremost, we wanted to listen to our customers and make the ordering process more convenient. Second, we wanted to free our Customer Service Group from manual data entry so they could focus on more pro-active support activities.”
How they got it.
“Our IT group and our marketing department had already identified Magento as the best solution to build the front-end of our eCommerce site. Our designers were comfortable with the platform and our marketing department liked the built-in communication features,” said Anderson. “The big question was, ‘How are we going to integrate Magento with SAP?’”
“A few years ago, we developed an order management website for one of our large retail pharmacy customers. That site
was designed to give patients with nebulizer prescriptions a convenient way to order refills online,” Anderson said. “But, it was not linked to SAP. Instead, orders were stored in a queue and had to be manually entered into our SAP system.”
“That site was our first attempt at online order management,” Anderson said. “It gave us a glimpse of what was possible. But we knew that before an order management site could really be successful, it had to be more comprehensive, and it had to connect with SAP.”
“With this new site, we initially considered building our own SAP integration interface. But, then Steven Ferrell, our IT Director, did some online research and found a company called b2b2dot0.
“b2b2dot0 specializes in real-time integration between Magento eCommerce and SAP. In the early planning phase, b2b2dot0 showed us how their cloud-based platform and agile project management process could get us online quickly.
They also addressed our concerns about data security and business rule enforcement in areas like: customized pricing, multi-plant inventory checking, min/max order quantities, credit checking and shipping choices.”
“Based on my conversations with b2b2dot0, I created an internal project blueprint and worked with our German headquarters to get approval to move forward.”
How They Customized it.
“The site that b2b2dot0 built for us has far exceeded what we originally planned — partly because of all the customizations we made.”
Chief Financial Officer
PARI Respiratory Equipment
“Every industry has its own terminology and language, and the pharmaceutical industry is no different,” said Anderson.
“b2b2dot0 showed us how we could customize various labels and messages so that the terms displayed in our eCommerce site would be recognizable to our users.”
“For example, instead of showing our users a field label called “Material Number”—which is an SAP naming convention—we renamed the field “Part Number” because that’s what our users want to see. This is just one small example of a long list of customizations we made as part of an overall effort to create a user-friendly web experience.”
“In addition to custom labels, b2b2dot0 also helped us develop custom logic, workflows and messages for credit limit issues.”
“Now, if a customer goes over their credit limit while placing an online order, we display a custom message with the amount that exceeds their limit. Then, the site gives the user an opportunity to reduce their order by that exact dollar amount.”
“Alternately, the user can place the order, but the site makes it clear that it will go on credit hold. Then, it displays a special phone number. When the customer calls that number, they are immediately connected with an accounts receivable specialist so they can work through outstanding credit issues and proceed with their order as normal.”
Anderson added, “Maximum order quantity logic is another example of how b2b2dot0 helped us translate our ‘tribal knowledge’ into a structured workflow.”
“Our experienced customer service reps knew about certain maximum order quantity rules that didn’t exist in our SAP system. So, we were concerned that when we switched to web-based orders, those safeguards against order entry errors would be lost.”
“For example, if a customer intended to order 100 products, but entered 1,000 by mistake, we were concerned that the mistake would go directly through to our warehouse and get shipped.”
“When we presented our concerns to b2b2dot0, we found the team to be very flexible and adept problems solvers. They helped us develop a customized table in SAP and implement logic that we can either apply to an individual material number or a product hierarchy that determines the maximum quantity allowed for a particular order.”
“Once we got started, the whole thing went rather quickly. Over the course of the project, b2b2dot0 led six focus groups to test and refine the interface—three were internal, and three were with our customers,” said Anderson.
Weigand, PARI’s Director of Marketing added, “b2b2dot0’s agile and iterative process allowed us to build a great system—based on real user feedback—in a very short time. In fact, just a few weeks into the project, we held our first focus group with production-ready site. The customers who participated were surprised at how far we had come in such a short time.”
Leave busy people alone.
“Our German SAP group is small and busy. They have to support PARI Global, not just the US. So, for this project to be successful, we had to use their time sparingly,” said Anderson. “Over the course of this project, I think b2b2dot0 had fewer than five phone calls with our SAP team. Aside from those calls, we were able to leave them alone so they could focus on other priorities.”
“We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this project,” Anderson said. “This could have been a story about competing interests and agendas, but it wasn’t. Our customers got the online ordering system they requested. Our marketing department got the Magento-based site they wanted. Our customer service reps are now shifting their focus away from manual order entry. And, the entire project was completed with minimal disruption to our German SAP team.”
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