Author: Michael Sonier, Vice President of Product
B2B is often considered decades behind B2C commerce. Outdated, manual processes with disconnected systems create friction within B2B commerce, resulting in inefficiencies and errors that are costly and frustrating to both suppliers and buyers.
To enhance productivity and accuracy within B2B purchasing, leading companies are investing in best-in-class software solutions that more seamlessly connect buyers and suppliers. This connectivity is also known as B2B connected commerce.
Connected commerce solutions bridge the gap between trading partners and sit in the middle between eProcurement solutions and eCommerce systems that were not intuitively built to natively integrate together. The result is a more frictionless purchasing process between B2B companies.
Most businesses understand the need for integration and automation, but they often greatly underestimate the process and requirements to stand up these types of connections. Some companies rely on internal IT resources to build and manage B2B commerce integrations. While this can be manageable on a small, case-by-case basis for experienced technical teams, it is no easy feat to set up, scale, and maintain these connections long-term.
It is also important to note that no two integrations are built the same, meaning if you have 10 trading partners on 10 different systems, a custom integration is required for each one. Strategic buyers and suppliers are opting to outsource to an experienced connected commerce provider to accelerate integration at scale.
We are seeing increased traction of these solutions in this current economic landscape because:
- It can be more economically viable to leverage a best-in breed-solution versus doing in-house, one-off custom integrations.
- Every transaction is more important than ever.
- Connected commerce allows companies to reallocate resources from low-value add, manual, data entry positions to more strategic, revenue generating initiatives
What are B2B Connected Commerce Solutions?
1. PunchOut: The Solution for Streamlined Buying & Selling
PunchOut solutions connect buyers and suppliers in a way that meets both organizations’ needs. Suppliers can accelerate their digital transformation, driving more business through their most strategic asset: their eCommerce site. Not only can suppliers provide a personalized shopping experience to their B2B buyers with rich content, customized pricing, merchandising and a curated product catalog and inventory, but buyers are able to begin shopping in one click, straight from their eProcurement system. They are authenticated into the supplier’s eCommerce site and, when finished shopping, their cart is automatically returned to their eProcurement system for appropriate spend management approvals and post-purchase processing.
2. Purchase Order (PO) Automation: Faster & More Accurate Purchasing
Purchase Order Automation replaces antiquated traditional paper or PDF purchase order transmissions. This eliminates error prone and slow manual entry, allowing suppliers to process the order accurately and quickly. On the other hand, buyers gets their products delivered faster. Purchase Automation involves translating and transforming the purchase order document and information from the buyer into the desired format and protocolof the supplier.
3. Invoice Automation: Data Transformation Streamlines Invoicing
Invoice Automation operates similarly as PO Automation, in reverse. Automation of the invoice greatly reduces invoice disputes, allowing suppliers to get paid faster and reducing burden on the buyer’s AP department for manual validation and dispute claims. The invoice document and information is translated, transformed and can be matched and enriched with purchase order information to ensure accuracy.
4. Purchase Order (POA) Acknowledgement: More Confident Purchasing
Purchase Order Acknowledgement transmits data back to the eProcurement solution to provide a complete view of order status, giving buyers the confidence that their order is processed properly and in a timely manner. Following the EDI 855 process, POA confirms orders are placed with key information, such as order items, quantities and pricing.
5. Advance Shipping Notice (ASN): More Efficient Notifications
Advanced Shipping Notice provides an additional layer of visibility and credibility within B2B transactions by notifying a buyer that their order has been shipped. The ASN contains details such as an order number, order date, tracking number, shipment method, shipping address, and items included.
6. eQuote: Quote to Cart Made Easy
eQuotes, also known as special orders, simplify the quote-to-order process for both buyers and suppliers by transferring quote data into eProcurement solutions. Automating eQuotes improves efficiency and reduces error by eliminating manual rekeying and enabling quote data to readily sync into the buyer’s eProcurement solution.
Making the Case for Third-Party Supported B2B Connected Commerce
In addition to building and testing B2B commerce integrations, TradeCentric provides comprehensive professional services that deliver fast value to businesses. Technology experts, project managers and integrated engineers are dedicated to clients’ outcomes, offering deep commerce and procurement expertise as well as consultation in a coordinated experience companies can trust.
TradeCentric’s professional services team specializes in:
- Onboarding and implementation: Accelerate onboarding while delivering successful implementations by leveraging TradeCentric’s technical experts and platform.
- Project management: Clearly scope projects and plan an approach that aligns with specific business goals.
- Training and adoption: Training and advisory services help companies better leverage B2B connected commerce solutions to accelerate ROI and time-to-value.
- Global coverage: With clients in 40+ countries, TradeCentric provides a flexible engagement model to connect with trading partners regardless of location.
The TradeCentric Platform has pre-built connectors for 150+ eProcurement solutions and 75+ eCommerce systems. Customers can connect once and open their business up to various opportunities with TradeCentric’s network of nearly 4,500 trading partners.
Connect now for more information on how to leverage B2B connected commerce.
Michael Sonier, Vice President of Product