Who Knew There Were So Many eCommerce Options?

8/27/2018

As I was doing my holiday shopping this year, I started to think about how often I choose to shop online versus in the retail store. I looked at the pile of gifts UPS has delivered so far in my home office and I realized that my purchases this year are 100% Online and 0% retail store. I still have a few gifts to buy, but the end result will be close to 75% online and 25% in a retail store. Clearly the B2C world has shifted and while eCommerce was once a fringe B2B sales channel for distributors, the convenience it allows is elevating it into the buying method of choice for B2B customers.

When you discuss eCommerce, people immediately think of a web storefront. But for many distributors there are several different aspects for offering an eCommerce omni-channel. Let’s look at a few.Who knew there were so many eCommerce options

Electronic Data Exchange (EDI)
EDI is electronic communication of data/transactions between 2 business systems. EDI has existed for more than 30 years. Two great examples of EDI are purchase orders and invoices. Instead of faxing or emailing purchase orders, many businesses send the purchase order via EDI. On the receiving end the inbound EDI is processed and an order is automatically created. When the order is shipped an EDI invoice is sent, matched to the original PO, the receipt record, and if everything is within tolerances the AP invoice is automatically created. EDI usage varies dramatically from industry to industry, but it can be a tremendous time and labor saver.

Document Automation
While EDI is great, not every customer or vendor is capable of sending or receiving EDI. In those situations, automation software like DocStar ECM AP Automation or AutoOrder can be used. DocStar ECM AP Automation captures and automatically processes your AP invoices. It eliminating the need for your AP staff to perform routine tasks to simply enter and process your AP invoices. AutoOrder is a similar automation tool but on the sales order side. AutoOrder converts faxed and emailed purchase orders into sales orders in your ERP system. It eliminates the need for your sales team to enter orders.

Amazon 
You can’t turn on the news today without hearing about Amazon. Distributors’ opinions on Amazon vary dramatically. Some distributors have decided to jump in with two feet and others have decided to ignore Amazon all together. There are various ways to do business with on Amazon, you could choose to sell products via Amazon or choose to use Amazon fulfillment. An important aspect of working with Amazon is ensuring your business system can integrate with Amazon. Epicor has experience helping customers integrate with Amazon on both the Eclipse and Prophet 21 products. So if you’re considering working with Amazon we may be able to assist.

Integrated Store Front
Beyond just having a web site, more and more distributors are offering an online storefront. In the past, this storefront may not have been integrated with your business system. But customer demands make the integration a requirement in today’s market. Customers expect to be able to search parts, see their price and item availability, place orders, view past purchases, and even see invoices. Tight integration also eliminates the cost of multiple product databases and duplicated data entry, which means fewer errors, better accuracy, and lower overall operational costs. If you’re interested in an integrated storefront, Epicor Commerce Connect is available for both Eclipse and Prophet 21.

Who knew there were so many options for eCommerce? I guess when you have to meet the needs of your customers, you need options.

Toney Corley Senior Product Marketing Manager at Epicor SoftwareTony Corley is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Epicor Software. Connect with him on LinkedIn





 

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