eProcurement is becoming as important in B2B as eCommerce. We will connect you with procurement companies, their systems and the customers that use them.
About the Client
A promotional merchandise company with offices worldwide, who had a history of winning large corporate clients. They already had several “punchout” connections to their large customers, and were very familiar with the benefits of integrating directly with customer systems.
We’ll use “client” to refer to GetJohn’s customer, and “customer” to refer to the client’s customers.
The client’s sales effort was working very well, and being able to offer their customers a “punchout” or “single sign-on” made it more attractive to larger companies. A “punchout” or “single sign-on” is a technology that lets your customers go from their internal system directly to your website, without having another password to remember.
Setting up these connections was becoming more difficult and costly, because up to this point, each setup was done individually. There was no centralised management or documentation of the different connections. To add to the difficulty, some of the customers had systems that did not use one of the industry standard methods to communicate!
To add another challenge, some customers needed specific “mapping” of the data from one system to another – for example, one customer’s procurement system sent a combined “name”, but the e-Commerce system wanted separate first and last names for the users.
We created a centralised system which could “speak” all the different standards used by procurement systems. It allowed for plug-in modules so we were able to connect it to different e-commerce systems, such as Shopify, AIM Smarter, and Magento. It connects those e-Commerce websites to procurement systems such as SAP Ariba, Workday, Coupa, Oracle and Ivalua.
We then created a central register of all the connections, and a process for the set up of any new clients.
The sales team were able to remove rekeying of orders for many accounts, and both customers and staff no longer had to worry about creating user accounts and resetting passwords. With the advent of GDPR, this became even more important because it provided assurance to all parties that their employee data was stored and used in a controlled way.
Sales staff now actively talk to customers about integrating with their systems, because everybody in the business understands the value of removing a lot of administrative work.
Setup costs per customer came down, because the system had pre-set configurations for the most common uses. This was even true when some “mapping” was required, such as the first/last name issue described above.
Overall, the system allowed the same team to support a growing number of orders and clients, by keeping administrative overheads down.
This particular project was driven more by technical needs than user needs. Users would end up with at least the same result, and were not asking for more, but we needed to be able to handle more volume and many more connections.
Discovering What’s Needed
The first step was to identify all the different technologies that needed to be supported – these include terms you may have heard, like “REST”, “SAML”, “cXML” and “OCI”. Then we identified all the e-Commerce systems we needed to connect with, and what those connections needed to do.
For example, when connecting to the Magento e-Commerce system, we needed to create new user accounts, create shopping carts, create new orders, and retrieve product information. Most of this could be done on a standard Magento system, but we needed to create an add-on module which would handle creation of new orders.
The last part of the discovery process was making a list of all the “mappings” needed – for example, one connection had to change a 2-letter country code into a 3-letter country code.