One Year of SAP Integrated B2B eCommerce Transactions

Written September 14th, 2009 by
Categories: CEO's Blog
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Wow!  It’s been just over a year since the first production order was transmitted through b2b2dot0’s service and posted into Nordson/EFD’s SAP system in real time.  Time certainly flies when you’re not only busy, but thoroughly enjoying what you’re doing!

Today I’ll reflect a little on what we’ve accomplished and learned over the past year.

To begin with, let me start with a few interesting statistics:

  1. We now have three manufacturing clients that have integrated their SAP systems with our b2b2dot0 service, Nordson/EFD, Drive Medical and Blount.
  2. Collectively, they  have 5 microsites in production with an additional 5 being tested in QA.
  3. Their 1900 invited users have visited our websites close to 200K times and registered  greater than 26K successful self-service business goals (place and track orders, download document reprints etc.), which represents close to $500K of savings for our client’s customer service operations.
  4. They have come from over 130 countries, all 50 states, and from over 5800 cities all over the world (road trip!).
  5. The most frequent foreign visitors are from Shanghai and Singapore (welcome).
  6. Over $30M of goods have been purchased through the b2b2dot0 service to date, with the current monthly orders approaching $5M (and growing).
  7. Over 422K individual items were ordered on 19400 separate transactions which yields an average of 21 items per order across all of our clients.
  8. The average order value ranged from $512 per order to over $7000 per order.
  9. The single largest order was for over $500K and the single most expensive item sold was valued at over $108K.
  10. Anywhere from 11% to 57% of these orders were placed during “off hours” (before 9AM and after 5PM local time)

There is no doubt that these implementations have all been successful and that they are adding great value to our clients and their customers!

What lessons have we learned in the past year that we can offer to all of our future clients?  Here are my top 5 recommendations:

  1. What’s good for your customers is good for you.  B2B eCommerce websites are like perpetual motion machines.  Once they go into production, and your customers start to go there on a regular basis, they print money for you!  On the one hand, your customers are placing revenue generating orders 24×7.  On the other hand, you save the money that you would have spent supporting them in the process.  Focus on empowering your customers and you’ll liberate your customer service organization from their mundane routines.  We won’t take credit for growing your top line (that’s your job), but we definitely will help you grow your bottom line!
  2. Deliver value quickly, incrementally and regularly.  Speed is of the essence.  You may have been conditioned into a lengthy, document driven implementation by your SAP implementation, but when it comes to getting on the web, there is a more Agile playbook to guide you. The formula is simple. Focus on delivering as much value as possible, with the least amount of effort, within the shortest period of time.  Score a victory with a well defined segment of your customers and then repeat. Don’t wait until you have the perfect BluePrint or until you’re ready to launch all features to all of your customers.  Roll out your B2B website out as quickly as possible (within 30 days) and let the positive feedback, and internal efficiency gains, motivate and fund your next incremental rollout.
  3. “Perfection is the enemy of the good” –  Don’t punish your customers by making them wait for the perfect solution if a “good enough one” adds significant value to them.  Give them something to use and improve it over time.  Segment your customers and follow the 80/20/80 rule.
    80% of the inherent value in the core b2b2dot0 service will be immediately embraced by the 20% of your customers that will generate 80% of your website interactions.  Go after them first!  Then work your way through to the 20/80/20 as (if) time, energy and funds permit.
  4. Customers want transparency and honesty – It should go without saying, but it is certainly important enough for me to repeat here… B2B eCommerce website customers expect a personalized and efficient experience.  They don’t want to do half of their work on your website and still have to interact with a Customer Service Representative to complete their transaction. Accurate pricing and availability is critical to a “customer services free” web transaction. That should be your goal and until you achieve it, you won’t reap the full cost savings potential of your B2B eCommerce website investment. (see items 2 & 3 for how to approach this)
  5. SAP rules! -Which leads us to our last recommendation.  Focus ALL of your attention on cleaning up your SAP system.  That is the single source of truth for your business.  As I pointed out in an earlier blog posting entitled “Opening the SAP B2B Kimono” you probably took some short cuts when you implemented SAP.  The good news is that you had responsible and well trained customer service representatives to fill in the gaps.  The better news is that you now have all the incentive in the world to circle back and clean up your SAP system.  Take advantage of the opportunity!

In the end, you’ll be rewarded with a very efficient and predictable channel for customer services.  Once you go into full production mode (after a 30-60 day pilot), here is a typical B2B website traffic profile.

B2B_Visitors_Profile It doesn’t get more regular than that!

In summary, the past year has been an awesome one for b2b2dot0!  We’ve had the good fortune to work with some great people and help them add tremendous value to their organizations.  Based on the conversations we’re now having with potential new clients, I’m 100% certain that I’ll be writing an equally exciting blog entry on the occasion of our second anniversary of our first production order!

Sam