Recently Arno Ham , CPO at Sana Commerce interviewed me online in the IT Standup -> B2B e-commerce integrated podcast to discuss the impact of e-Commerce integrations in the IT landscape, a super nice interview with tips and tricks! The podcast can be found in this link
For the complete interview, below are the questions we’ve gone through.
Mariette, can you please explain to our listeners more about your background?
Around the millennium I started as a webdesigner, to develop new internet sites. During the years I worked for several company’s in different roles, from designer, projectleader to eCommerce consultant. And for over 2 years now started my own business in eCommerce.
I’m curious what is your relation to IT?
I named my business IT Doel (which means in Dutch) IT Goals, because I believe that the most challenging thing in the IT is to match the technique with the expectations. If you set up your goals for IT and know what you want, the technique will follow.
Can you explain a little bit more about your experience with B2B e-commerce and Sana?
When I started as a consultant in 2008 for a Dynamic partner, they were searching for new eCommerce software that they can offer to the customers, which could be connected easy with (back then) Dynamics NAV. And we discovered Sana as a good partner for the B2B eCommerce solutions. During the years I have implemented many Sana commerce web shops for B2B, B2C and also B2X stores form production, wholesale to the fashion industry.
You have worked with multiple B2B clients, what is to your experience of the complexities B2B companies are dealing with when they are going online?
They are dealing with customers that are ordering large amounts, big orders with a large variety of products and expectations about customer specific prices in their own currency’s and VAT rules, discounts etc. And also online services like handling returns and guaranty’s.
Can you maybe elaborate on a couple of examples?
One of my favourites is Saris, Saris is a company that is developing and producing advanced trailers, Sana is for many years an important channel for them. Almost 15 years ago they started whit Sana to offer the customers spare parts for the trailers and after a few years they added new functionalities like a warranty registration, planning of the shipments. And added later a product configurator so customers can configure a trailer by them selves.
Because of the big variety of products it is important for them to have a good stable connection whit BC, it is helping them to reduce time that they have to invest in the maintenance of the shop.
What are the common mistakes that B2B companies are making when they are moving online?
The interface or connection whit the ERP and other systems in the IT landscape is very often an forgotten part or seen as less important. Once I was called by a customer and said to me, he, Mariette we have a new Webshop, but the orders are not coming in the ERP. Can you check why? I discovered the totally forgotten to develop the interface at the ERP side. So you can imagine that they had a big problem, because developing an interface is something that can take months to develop and they had to add hundreds of orders manual in the ERP. Can you imagine what the impact was on the sales department? And the pressure on the IT department to develop as soon as possible an interface?
What is to your opinion the role of ERP integration in dealing with this complexity? AND what is the impact on the IT department?
It has a big role, as I mentioned imagine there is to interface and you have 2 systems to maintain and keep the data equal. What would be the impact on your company? And your customers?
There is also a lot of misunderstanding about a connection because of the complexity. For example, rounding differences that can arise, if the rounding in the webshop does not coincide with the ERP system, 1 cent per item when delivering a pallet at once in ERP can give a completely different order amount. There is a difference of sending just data or like Sana does, use business logic. Also Is there a custom interface needed or is there a standard interface. For IT departments the last thing has huge impact, because custom in for example BC means that you have to test the interface every time Microsoft pushes a new update. Also customisations are a problem when you want to update your system. And last but not least if errors occure you have sometimes multiple partners to check who hase to solve something.
Which unique B2B features you think every B2B company should add to their webstore?
- Reorder functionality
- Add tot the basket by Barcode scanning
- Replacements and Cross-and Upsell Items
What are to you the main reasons why adoption of the new B2B webstore is low?
I see very often that internal issues for handling data are trying to be solved in the webshop. An example that I always see during the past years is the order quantity, the warehouse can only handle per box and the webshop can only sell per pieces. What happens very often is that the customer can order exactly 12 pieces or 24 etc and sometimes there is a feature in the Webshop that it will round up to the right amount… but what would be better if they just could buy a box and not per piece. Like in Sana is the case.
Which tips & tricks do you have to increase webstore adoption?
Also for B2B buyers it is important to check who is the target audience. Set your goals in the right way, before you start the project.
When implementing the store, think like you customers or just ask them what they expect from a B2B webshop. But also do a pilot during the implementation whit them, make sure your system matches the expectations of the users in this case it are the customers.
Do you think IT should have a louder voice when it comes to platform choice? If so, any tips how to?
Yes, very often a webshop is still seen as a marketing tool and it is, IT can make it more clear that it is also a part of an IT landscape where it should fit in. The whole company will benefit from it when IT, Marketing and Sales are working together as a team in the implementation of a new platform.
Any tips for IT leaders when they are going to replatform to new software?
Yes, of course, make sure:
- You have your goals clear before you start searching for the software. For example if one of your goals is to reach a wider international audience, then it is important that the software supports currency’s and different VAT rules etc.
- And also check the Return Of investment, whit a return of investment tool you can check how much a system will cost and when you earned the investment back. Sometimes something seems expensive, but if you have to hire people for manual actions it will be more expensive over a longer time. I believe Sana has a calculator for that on the website and also on my website you can find a tool.
- Implement in small steps, don’t make it to big for the first start. You can always optimize later.
- Check also at all the software parties what kind of implementation strategy is used and how they see the new system will fit in.
What is your mission as B2B e-commerce & ERP consultant?
To optimise the supply chain so everyone will benifit a smooth shopping experience
What is your favorite B2B e-commerce shop? And why?
I have many favourites , but if I have to choose it will be the webshop of Richa. They have their own Brand of MotorCycle wear and added past half year their B2C shop to the B2B shop and have less maintenance due to that chance and get the B2C orders into the ERP just the same as the B2B orders, which reduces manual actions. -> https://www.richa.eu