In B2B websites, processing manually is no longer an effective way, especially in this technology-developed world. It is time-consuming, unstable, and error-prone. For this reason, B2B integration appears to improve those drawbacks.
Integrations are now increasingly popular with high demands of short-time and reliable communications between businesses. It contributes to establishing long-term relationships that can bring them to success.
Hence, this article will give you all related information to the topic to help you get a better understanding.
What Is B2B Integration?
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Integration refers to automated processes and communication between organizations to improve how you get in contact, trade, and work with your stakeholders (suppliers, clients, and other collaborators). This means that B2B integration is beneficial to develop your business performance.
There are 2 different types of integration:
- Data-level integration:
Data-level integration (B2B data integration) is the process of automatically exchanging documents among external systems. In other words, it is the process of turning papers into digital documents. At the B2B data integration level, a high degree of automation is the requirement to connect using a secure protocol, exchange, and convert data, documents into a suitable format.
A highlighted example of data-level integration is Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), which is considered the beginning of this type of integration.
- People-level integration:
Different from data-level, people-level integration considers the human role in B2B integration. B2B is about the collaboration between people in businesses; hence, people-level integration enables efficient communication among partners to effectively implement the whole business processes.
Dispute resolution, partner onboarding, and other clients’ support circumstances can be considered features of this type of integration.
All in all, an effective integration platform can provide various capabilities to approach both data-level and people-level integration.
Why Does B2B Integration Necessary to B2B Businesses?
We have mentioned that integration is extremely helpful in improving B2B website performance. But how useful is it? Let’s find out in this section.
Iintegration brings you enormous benefits, including:
Cost Optimization & Time-saving
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Cost optimization is business-focused. Businesses always want to find ways to reduce costs, thenceforth, increase profit. And one of the most apparent benefits that B2B integration provides is cost reduction.
With B2B integration, you can save costs and avoid costs simultaneously by reducing human involvement in the process, for example, mailroom sorting, data entry, and document preparation. As a result, labor and material costs will be decreased.
Moreover, manually implementing processes can easily result in errors, from which the cost of correction will incur, and it is relatively costly to resolve problems.
Along with optimizing costs, you also can speed up the process using integrations, which is also a great advantage to improve productivity.
In reality, research conducted by Stanford Graduate School of Business has shown that applying B2B integration realized:
- 19% lower of total supply chain costs
- 13% shorter days sales outstanding
- 36% faster order-to-delivery cycle times
It helps to reduce cost, save time, enhance accuracy. B2B integration also contributes to business efficiency in various aspects, such as operational processes and relationships with partners.
B2B integration allows transmitting data between enterprises most effectively and securely; hence, creating effective cooperation and collaborations.
In reality, researches have proved the effectiveness of B2B integration: using B2B integration improves communications between businesses and their stakeholders.
Real-time Visibility & Effective Management
Developing and maintaining an effective supply chain with full visibility from placing an order to delivery and complete the order is necessary. It has an enormous impact on relationships between your businesses and clients.
B2B integration solutions allow delivering supply chain and operational visibility, hence, timely taking action and resolving customers’ issues. Additionally, B2B integration platforms can be considered a base that gathers data and enhances business processes’ visibility.
In addition to visibility, B2B integration provides tools that enable businesses to gradually control their businesses, analyze figures, and evaluate performances; thenceforth, make adjustments in business strategies if necessary. Such B2B integration tools might be presented comprehensively in real-time, displaying key indicators.
Immediate Global Connection
For businesses, especially B2B businesses, a wide connection is essential. For example, your suppliers might not be in the same country, but far away from your place. If you lose connection with them, consequently, it might cause trouble.
With the help of an optimal B2B integration solution, it won’t be the case. It enables businesses to attain 100% the ability to connect with the entire global trading community immediately and consistently.
List of B2B Integration Systems That Helps Improve Your B2B Business
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a type of multi-functional, multi-departmental management software solution. It can collect, store, manage, and analyze data from business operations, including finance and accounting, production and distribution, sales, and service management.
The B2B ERP system is extremely advantageous for businesses. It helps control customer information, speed up the production process, goods, and services supply, manage financial data, inventory, standardize human activities, and create a convenient interaction between staff.
Point of Sale (POS) Software
Point of Sale (POS) is indispensable for all businesses, both brick-and-mortar stores and eCommerce. For B2B enterprises, integrating B2B POS software is quite necessary.
The software allows updating the quantity of exported – imported – existing goods at any time, as well as monitoring the store’s revenue, debt for each customer. Accordingly, it won’t be a matter anymore if you are required to travel around, meet clients, and create direct orders.
POS software can be used in offline mode via mobile, which is flexible and comfortable for staff to use. Another critical point is that B2B POS could be integrated via another system like ERP. Combined with B2B ERP, the inventory will be updated in real-time as soon as customers place an order.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
The EDI term is frequently mentioned when referring to B2B integration. Electronic data exchange (EDI) transfers information from one electronic computer to another by electronic means, using an agreed standard to structure the information.
In other words, B2B EDI integration is a paperless method, which is more convenient to transmit documents such as orders, invoices among businesses.
B2B EDI integration offers excellent benefits for businesses: Cost-saving, high speed, accuracy, efficiency enhancement; hence, improve competitive advantages.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
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CRM is a customer relationship management software that businesses use to reduce costs and increase profits by reinforcing customer satisfaction and loyalty. It is said that: “If customer relationship is the heart of business success, then CRM is the lifeblood”.
The CRM system is beneficial for both B2C and B2B businesses. However, there are several differences. B2B CRM systems are more complex, have a longer sales cycle, larger deal sizes but fewer orders, fewer leads generated, and more stages involved.
B2B CRM system helps you:
- Enhance brand image, timely communicate, and build up long-term relationships with clients.
- Minimize time-consuming input tasks, focus on nurturing better sales opportunities.
- Make data-driven decisions through customer data evaluation (supported by AI).
Payment solutions integration is a must. Nowadays, with the appearance of many different payment methods, customers have a high demand for choosing the right method based on their situation. This is applied to both B2B and B2C businesses.
Notably, B2B businesses usually have to adapt to their clients’ policies of invoice and payment. Clients want to choose the most suitable method for them as they pay a massive amount of money. Therefore, if you cannot offer what they want, it will be a limitation.
In terms of payment solutions, security is another requirement. It can be considered as the most important element. Since money is a sensitive issue, security must be placed at the top of your agenda.
Product Information Management (PIM)
Product Information Management (PIM) is quite simple to understand. As its name, B2B PIM provides an environment to manage product information, despite how many distribution channels you are using to sell your products.
Besides, it supports multiple geographical locations, various languages, information maintenance, and adjustment in a centralized catalog. Without a doubt, the B2B PIM system is an effective way to collect, enrich, manage, and spread data.
For B2B businesses, it is said that B2B client portals can be a game-changer. Utilizing client portals for your B2B businesses will create a big difference.
When running a large-scale B2B business, it is necessary to offer various sales methods. While your clients are satisfied to purchase via your eCommerce platform, some others still demand their own client portal, where they can place orders, keep track, require, and even request returns.
Bill & Pay business has approved utilizing the client portal. “The portal speeds up payments, boosts cash flow and improves their image in their customers’ eyes,” says Jim Van Someren, Vice President of Bill & Pay.
B2B Integration Best Practices
After understanding the enormous benefits that integration brings about, you may misunderstand that using all of those is the most optimal way. However, it is based on the situation.
Before deciding to choose any integration, you need to consider these things first, which are B2B integration best practices.
#1. Identify What Your Business Demands for
When choosing integrations, you shouldn’t start with its value but begin with what your business needs. Because what integrations benefit all businesses are the same, but your business requirement might be unique. And integration is just a tool for you to express your uniqueness.
#2. Consider The Scalability
After identifying your demands, and based on which sorting out some integrations, you should ask yourself some questions: “How will my business grow when implementing this integration? Will that solution be able to develop more, or it has limitations?”
Such questions will help you avoid troubles in the future if the integration solution you choose cannot expand. Therefore, you will have to start over the process.
#3. Choose & Combine Integrations
Now, it’s time for you to choose the right solution for you. Based on your demand, you can select one or combine various solutions to get the best result and achieve the expected outcome. One thing to remember is that you should carefully plan how to utilize such integration tools in your business, or not, it will be nothing.
All in all, we just want to say that please get rid of all the manual work you are implementing on your website (if any). Adapting to the new technology development is the best choice at present not to fall behind the time.
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