What kinds of e-commerce services, if any, are your clients asking for?

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What we are hearing from our customers is that the off-the-shelf software paradigm breaks down when we try and move business processes to the Web. In most cases, client requirements for B2B e-commerce solutions cannot be satisfied by pre-packaged software or hosted solutions. Complex business issues such as product pricing, commissions, distribution channel conflict, and unique ordering methods lead to this breakdown.

Scott Miller
Treadstone Group
Cincinnati, Ohio

Customers have been requesting customized e-commerce order taking solutions. For example, booksellers need customers to place orders over the Internet, reference the Books In Print database to get all book information including bindings, pages, publisher, authors, categories, subtitles. In addition, get credit card authorization online, sometimes generate a purchase order automatically, and show status of the order. Food and beverage delivery companies request an e-commerce solution for order taking from a customer-specific template with customer-specific pricing. These orders need to be routed for delivery on appropriate route delivery days. All of these customized sales orders/purchase orders ultimately integrate into Accounts Receivable and other accounting modules for bottom-line profitability, inventory, and financials.

Partner Insights

Lorraine Keating
Prism Visual Software
Port Washington, N.Y.

We are seeing strong interest in B2B e-commerce these days, as opposed to B2C. Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that many of our customers (existing and prospective) are either distributors, importers, and/or manufacturers, whose business model does not include B2C e-commerce. Our customers (existing and prospective) are looking for ways to "e-nable" a combination of order processing and tech support for their customers/partners.

Russell E. Murray
Watts Up
Ossining, N.Y.

Very few are asking for e-commerce, but the ones that ask are asking for a storefront and an easy way to take orders.

B. Patrick Kepler
Clifton Gunderson
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

As my clients are nonprofits, the requests are a little different. We are getting requests for assistance in communicating with donors, receiving donations/pledges, and tracking interest in other areas like capital campaigns. There are lots of other IT requests, but this is it in the e-commerce area.

Carolyn S. Sechler, CPA
Sechler CPA PC
Phoenix, Ariz.

The types of e-commerce services that are being requested are two-fold. 1) Customer self-service applications where customer can place orders and track orders through the shipping process. 2) Employee self-service applications wherein employees can review the activities of their customers. Also, on-line entry of time-sheet type information and expense report is also in high demand by service firms.

Glenn McPeak
Peak Data Systems
Rockaway, N.J.

In both product lines that we implement, Navision Attain and Accpac Pro Series, we see more and more demand for Supply-Chain-related e-commerce applications. That means providing customers, vendors, and salespeople, with either visibility and/or transaction entry functionality at different points in the Supply Chain. On the EDI front, the mid-market requirements are still mostly driven by the Majors, and here again we see increase in demand. So if you would like to do business with some of the Fortune-size companies, you better have integrated EDI functionality.

Ed Avizur
A. B. Computer Systems
Melville, N.Y.

My experience has been most clients don’t have email, let alone other e-commerce. We rely heavily on technology in our firm, but small business is the majority of our client base and most small business owners are older people who were not raised with the technology revolution. I have seen a drastic increase in those with email accounts over the past two years, but many of those who finally got email use it very little. I believe the next five years will see a drastic increase in e-commerce, but for most small businesses the demand is not there today. Part of that is due to poor access to fast Internet connectivity in rural areas.

Bert Doerhoff
Bert Doerhoff CPA
Jefferson City, Mo.

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