The case is getting stronger for business-to-business companies to implement an e-commerce order management system now, according to an article on the Industrial Distribution website. Manufacturers and distributors who feel their traditional systems of order management are adequate often suffer bottom line losses without realizing it.
“Some scoff at the idea that a procurement person might abandon manufacturer A in favor of B simply because A doesn’t have an e-commerce presence,” says an e-commerce strategist quoted in the article, who also affirms that “oftentimes, people prefer the simplicity of searching through a catalog online … particularly if they’re also strapped for time.” Procurement officers see the streamlined ease of use on business-to-consumer e-commerce websites and they’re starting to expect that same user experience from their suppliers.
The question is not if, but when and how to implement an e-commerce order management system. The first step is to get your team ready for this process.
Implementing an e-commerce order management system is a project that can often be initiated by an IT department wishing to upgrade from an old, legacy system. But this is a technology project that affects the organization as a whole, so the e-commerce strategist recommends getting all levels of the organization, from the C-level to the salespeople, involved in this important step.
“If the C-level people aren’t engaged, and aren’t willing to push their employees in the implementation, it won’t succeed. And if the salespeople aren’t aware of what’s happening, and aren’t actively bringing on clients old and new, they’re going to cause a lot of confusion and frustration,” the e-commerce strategist says.
The switch will require salespeople making calls to move customers to the new system, so this is actually a great opportunity to connect with customers, learn more about buying needs and see what the competition is doing.
So what’s the goal? What should you expect now that your team is on board and you’re ready to get started? The article recommends getting an offering up within six to nine months. This goal may come as a surprise because many organizations view the implementation of an e-commerce order management solution as an enormous and time-consuming task.
While it’s true that a full and comprehensive implementation can take a year or more, getting something off the ground in a shorter timeframe can lead to more effective brainstorming and real-world problem-solving. Getting the business-to-business e-commerce offering going is most important. Tweaks and fine adjustments will come in the ensuing months.
“In many situations, it’s just a matter of getting into the right mindset, and then creating ambitious-but-realistic goals for the roll-out,” according to the article. A successful business-to-business e-commerce order management solution is within reach. Your next step should be to find the right solution offering and a partner with previous implementations on your side to begin the project.
Source: Industrial Distribution, August 2013