With customer retention the aim of the game, your customers must never be burdened for your benefit. Though
delivering considerable advantages when fully implemented, certain automation solutions like electronic data
interchange (EDI) require a significant level of collaboration with customers to put in place. To introduce EDI, for
example, customer purchase orders must arrive in one
standard electronic format to be automatically translated
into a sales order in your ERP system. Most customers,
however, have their own longstanding internal processes
to follow when submitting an order. Some may print and
fax, others choose email and others still prefer to call
their orders in. With their own operational infrastructure
in place, they would therefore be understandably reluctant to duplicate effort, creating purchase orders in their
own systems before entering the same information item
by item a second time into your e-commerce website.
Since your business is to serve your customers, expecting all customers to order through your B2B website and
asking them to disrupt the way they do business would
be completely unacceptable — most likely driving them
through frustration into the arms of your waiting competitors.
But there is another reason not to force all orders
through your ecommerce website. By sending your
customers online, you put them at increased risk of being reached and enticed by your competitors. With their
search data saved in cookies, browsers will target your
customers for advertising from similar companies, tempting them to comparison shop.
No. 3 — Do You Have The Resources To
Automation solutions inevitably have a cost, but some
solutions cost more than others. Certain technologies such
as EDI entail the dedication of a considerable number of
resources in addition to a high level of collaboration with
customers. For these, you will need to have strong technical expertise available internally, as well as substantial
amounts of money, time and manpower to implement
and transform your business processes. So, if you have
minimal resources at your disposal, it is crucial to bear this
in mind as you review your options.
No. 4 — Does It Work With Your Existing
The solution you put in place should work seamlessly
with your current technology. Anything less would mean
discarding and wasting the considerable time and money
you have inevitably invested in building your operational
infrastructure. If you have already dedicated resources to
implementing solutions such as EDI and an ERP system,
make sure any sales order automation technology you
consider will integrate effortlessly with them.
Ultimately, introducing sales order automation has
been proven to significantly improve the efficiency and
productivity of your business processes. With numerous
options on the market, selecting the right technology
to meet your unique needs is crucial. As you evaluate
potential contenders, ensure you bear in mind these four
key considerations — the solution’s accuracy, its resource
requirements, compatibility with existing technology
and ability to embrace your customers’ unique business
practices. With these factors taken into account, you’ll be
able to innovate and adapt to your evolving marketplace.
Your customers’ expectations can then be accommodated
and your company’s growth secured, ensuring you stay far
ahead of the competition.
Brent Halverson is president and CEO of ecmarket, a
cloud-based solutions developer and creator of Conexiom
— a sales-order and invoice automation solution.
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