Business to Business
Experience Plus Technologies Equals Solutions
Just what would be an an accurate definition of business-to-business eCommerce on the Web? Perhaps the easy and most concise definition would be Exchanging information. In the past, businesses might have exchanged information by sending it on tape or disk, where the receiving company would convert the data and import it into its own database. With the Internet, data can be exchanged in an instant. Still, the question is "how do I get data out of my database and into your database? Or data from your database into my database?"
While the returns for some business-to-consumer (B2C) eCommerce Websites have been disappointing and many companies have fallen by the wayside in recent years (with some notable exceptions like Amazon.com), business-to-business (B2B) returns are beginning to show considerably more promise. This is probably because B2B eCommerce is not new. Businesses had been quietly conducting eCommerce for decades before the Internet became a popular communications infrastructure. Before the Net, businesses connected their mainframes and minis via direct dial-up connections or proprietary third party value-added networks (VANs). However, because of the global reach of the Internet, B2B eCommerce has now come of age.
In the course of working with many existing and startup businesses, we have found that the scope of many of our services is very similar from instance to instance. We have packaged these services into well-defined solutions that we offer to all of our business clients.
A Real World Example
Say a retailer, we'll call them the Acme company, wants to buy floral print shirts for its clothing department from a manufacturer named the Jones Company. The retailer and manufacturer might agree to set up an electronic purchase order. In the product/item description field, the retailer would specify the type of shirt to be purchased. The manufacturer would respond with an automatic purchase order acknowledgment. The trading partners might also exchange documents, shipping schedules, and shipping notices. Further, they may use a specific document to indicate inventory levels. In recent years, however, the Internet has changed supply-chain integration. Many companies are discovering that they can use Internet-enabled applications as middleware to integrate their purchasing and selling systems, as well as other applications.
At the heart of B2B eCommerce is the integration of any number of software applications. For example, let's say that the fictional Acme Company's computers and applications must somehow share data with Jones Company's computers and applications. Some approaches to Internet-based eCommerce work primarily at this level of abstraction. They provide (either by programming it themselves or purchasing existing middleware) software to enable the integration of a wide range of applications with the Web or directly with each other. These middleware systems are often referred to as application servers. Rather than solving any one specific integration problem, these servers provide a framework and infrastructure to facilitate the integration of the many applications they tie together.
In the real world, Wal-Mart's rise to national prominence was certainly propelled by its friendly image and large offering of goods and services. But what the majority of people don't realize is that Wal-Mart's success was every bit as much a result of its revolutionary approach to supply-chain integration. Wal-Mart persuaded its vendors to participate in a technological revolution of the retail industry. In particular, Wal-Mart negotiated a deal with one of its major suppliers, Procter & Gamble, that allowed P&G to electronically monitor the stock levels in Wal-Mart stores and make its own decisions about reordering and restocking the shelves. According to Lou Pritchett's book, Stop Paddling and Start Rocking the Boat, the results were highly profitable for both companies. This is a tremendous testimony to the effectiveness of a well-organized B2B relationship.
Businesses today are quickly shifting their focus and making use of the Internet as the underlying network for their B2B eCommerce applications. Whether applications deal directly with procurement or merely support such commerce, the thought of a virtual corporation is now much closer to reality than ever before. PacInfo is rising to the occasion with a wide variety of eCommerce solutions, with the result being significantly increased profitability for those companies who choose us to assist them in deploying these systems correctly and carefully.
Evaluation & Strategy
PacInfo takes the time to learn and understand how your company does business. We then use our collective working knowledge of your company and its relationship within the industry you serve; including any special needs, demands, aspects and requirements of the clients you service. We know that your eCommerce B2B strategy must serve both your suppliers and customers as well as your own bottom-line. We have the expertise to assist you in finding ways to do both. Your eCommerce B2B strategy, documented as part of the Evaluation and Strategy process, is the blueprint that will drive the design, development, programming and implementation of your eCommerce B2B project.
Deliverables at end of Evaluation and Strategy Phase:
- Analysis document detailing the findings.
- Presentation summarizing the findings and recommendations.
Creating your Website will require close interaction between your creative and technical teams and ours. This blended pool of talent will create what we call the Project Team. The Website prototype provides a critically important reference point for the Project Team. The Website prototype supports an iterative process of refinements and enhancements to the site as functional design activity continues. By employing a Website prototype, the functional expectations of the Website will be well documented and shared among the Project Team. For startup companies, the Website prototype is often a critical factor in attracting customers and securing additional funding, should it be necessary.
Deliverable at end of the Website Prototype Phase:
- Prototype Website demonstrating high-level concepts and functionality.
Website Design and Construction
Whether your eCommerce B2B strategy requires an Internet portal, an Internet exchange or a simple corporate presence, PacInfo has the experience to design, build and maintain it. Using your Website prototype as a guide and employing our detailed and proven processes for project development, our staff will successfully build the kind of site your eCommerce B2B strategy demands. More importantly, PacInfo will build it in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
Deliverable at end of the Website Design and Construction Phase:
- Working Website and technical documentation.
Infrastructure Setup and Stress Testing
Your eCommerce B2B strategy is all about joining the Internet revolution, leveraging its power your customers, partners and most importantly, your company's benefit. Perhaps the most satisfying moment of executing your eCommerce B2B strategy is when your Website is brought online. PacInfo will insure that when your site goes online, it stays online. We are prepared to set up the entire technical infrastructure for you, providing you with the assurance that the myriad of software, hardware, middleware are all configured to run properly, effectively and efficiently. This service may include the procurement, configuration and initialization of hardware and software as required by the project as well as setting up virtual staging areas for maintenance and future enhancements should they become necessary.
Deliverables at end of Infrastructure Setup and Stress Testing:
- Hardware order from leading hardware vendors as needed.
- Software order from a leading software vendor as needed.
- Actual hardware installation and setup.
- Actual software installation and setup.
- Presentation summarizing stress test results and recommendations.
Website Promotion and Log Analysis
This is perhaps the most critical element for the success of your Website. Once you are up and running, how does your target audience find Website? You want to be listed with Internet search engines of course, but that's just the beginning. Without a Website promotion strategy that is carefully coordinated and assimilated into your Website construction, the Internet search engines will not serve your site well at all. Promotion strategies for your Website begins with your eCommerce B2B strategy, which provides specific concepts, keywords and phrases that can be embedded in your site during construction. We are experts at Internet search engine listing. PacInfo will publish your site to all the leading Internet search sites and indexing engines in a way that fits like a glove with your existing promotional strategies. After the initial submission process has been completed, we will continue to monitor the visitor access and traffic logs, as well as the rankings your site is achieving on a monthly basis, for as long as your company feels necessary.
Deliverables at end of Website Promotion and Log Analysis:
- Internet search engine registration.
- Presentation summarizing analysis results.