Nearly every wholesale distributor has a B2B e-commerce website that requires an extensive investment of time and money. But for many customers, using an e-commerce site may require entering orders twice — once into their own purchasing system as a purchase order (PO) and then a second time into the distributor’s e-commerce site. That dual entry drives down use, reducing returns on e-commerce investments and creating extra work for distributors. When customers forgo the platforms altogether, those responsible for maintaining the distributors’ e-commerce sites struggle to justify the investment they’ve made and find it difficult to determine how best to drive better adoption. Finding a way to push a customer’s emailed PO into the e-commerce system would increase the return on investment, cut down on mistakes and reduce order-fulfillment times, without changing how customers prefer to place orders. THE MAJORITY OF ORDERS ARE SENT BY EMAIL Customers continue to email orders because many companies require a PO to receive goods and pay invoices. Customers don’t want to enter orders a second time into an e-commerce site, so they send them via email or print and then fax them. A 2016 Modern Distribution Management study found that 74% of customers prefer to email their POs. Those orders are received and manually entered in the supplier’s ERP system by the customer-service or inside-sales team, delaying order fulfillment. Not only is manually entering SmartFocus on Sales Automation Strategy A Update WINTER 2017SPONSORED BY HOW SALES ORDER AUTOMATION CAN INCREASE E-COMMERCE ADOPTION 1 emailed orders time-consuming, but it also increases opportunities for mistakes. Orders are further delayed if the need arises to correct discrepancies or mistakes, which often involves contacting buyers to confirm the items or correct pricing. Instead of cross- or up-selling products, customer-service reps are manually entering and correcting orders, driving down revenue and increasing distributors’ costs. Additionally, buyers who email their POs can’t check order status, review their history or find complementary products — benefits offered by most e-commerce platforms. THE NEED TO SHOW ROI E-commerce sites are necessary for an omnichannel sales approach, but they can be expensive and time-consuming to design, implement and maintain. Strategy owners are under pressure to demonstrate adoption and ROI for their sites after making significant investments into this new channel. One of the anticipated benefits of e-commerce is more time for customer-service and inside- sales representatives to help customers and offer additional products. If customers continue to email orders, reps will be required to manually enter them into their ERP system, taking time away from customer service and decreasing the ROI of the e-commerce site. Because they’ve made such significant investments in the e-commerce platform, many companies are reluctant to put more money into order processing and feel the solution is to simply tell their customers to place their orders through their website. Unfortunately, low adoption rates tell a different story. Others may have used older technology, such as optical character recognition (OCR) software to try to automate the order process, and experienced low accuracy rates that have turned them off from considering this approach. One of the anticipated benefits of e-commerce is more time for customer-service and inside-sales representatives to help customers and offer additional products “ ” 2 THE SOLUTION: SALES ORDER AUTOMATION Companies looking to better leverage their investments and keep customers happy are turning to sales order automation software. The technology is integrated into the existing e-commerce platform and takes all the order data from emailed or faxed POs and converts it into an electronic format for submission through the e-commerce site. Sales order automation uses open industry standards offered through the ecommerce platform to boost transactions, ease adaptation of the site and drive better ROI. Sales order automation eliminates the need for customers to enter orders twice and reduces the need for customer-service representatives to manually enter orders. That means customers don’t have to change the way they place orders, and the ROI on e-commerce sites increases as more orders are processed through it. Because emailed and faxed orders are automatically directed into the e-commerce system and no longer need to be entered manually, customers gain access to benefits that exist on the e-commerce site. These include the ability to check order status online and personalized product recommendations based on buying behavior and history. The automatic entry means there is no possibility for human error by the distributor’s customer-service or inside-sales team members. All order data goes through the same system. Previously, when errors were detected, representatives needed to contact the customer to fix them. Now, the person who submitted the order receives a notice to log into the system and resolve any discrepancy herself. This lets distributors transfer the burden of order correction from their own staff directly to the buyer. By eliminating manual entry, orders can be processed within five minutes and get into the hands of customers faster. And because modern sales order automation systems don’t use OCR, orders are entered into the system exactly as they are placed with 100% data accuracy. That frees sales and customer-service reps to better serve customers. They’re able to more quickly solve problems, proactively offer new products and make merchandise recommendations. By increasing BENEFITS OF SALES AUTOMATION: ■■ Increased use of e-commerce platform ■■ Greater order accuracy ■■ Better customer experience ■■ Faster order processing and error correction ■■ Better use of e-commerce features ■■ Ease of implementation 3 customer satisfaction, distributors are more likely to retain clients and increase sales. All these benefits transfer into higher ROI. Companies that use sales order automation routinely experience a ROI of 200% to 1,000%, according to Conexiom data. The ROI analysis looks at existing processes, resourcing and order flow within an organization and provides a quantifiable expectation of results. Sales order automation is easily implemented because it’s often delivered in the cloud as SaaS (Software as a Service) and, therefore, can use existing people, processes and technology. Through a straightforward integration process, the software is typically implemented within 30 days and is tailored to solve each business’s unique order-fulfillment system rules. Integration with existing e-commerce systems is completed using open standards, such as Extensible Markup Language (XML), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). CONCLUSION Sales order automation increases adoption of the e-commerce platform and order accuracy, helping make the business case for ongoing investment in the site. It frees employees to offer better service, solve problems and make product recommendations. Customers can continue to place orders in their preferred manner, increasing customer satisfaction while enjoying the benefits offered through the online e-commerce site. Orders are processed faster and more accurately. Competing in today’s environment means becoming more efficient and offering better customer service. Driving e-commerce adoption through sales order automation is an excellent strategy to increase customer adoption of the site, boost transaction flow and sales, as well as drive ROI. For more information: Contact Conexiom for a demonstration Companies that use sales order automation routinely experience a ROI of 200% to 1,000%” sponsored by CONEXIOM Conexiom allows manufacturers and distributors to focus on serving customers and managing supplier relationships instead of entering data. The Conexiom cloud-based service revolutionizes critical sales and accounting business practices by automating manual entry with 100% accuracy. Conexiom effortlessly converts inbound emailed and printed customer purchase orders and supplier invoices into automated sales orders and invoices, enabling companies to focus on driving growth. Visit for more information. “ 4