It has been a six months wait before I could finally see my first B2B (Business 2 Business) go live. One of our clients, MDSHVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) is a distributor based in Atlanta, USA. They have three warehouses located across the USA which has been their mode of sales from its inception. Apart from selling, they also transport what their customers need directly to the places where it has to be delivered.
One big hurdle they identified was non-availability when someone knocks their door beyond working hours. They wanted to be a firm which could be accessed by customers all the time, both offline and online. That is when they felt the need to have their presence in the online sphere so that potential B2B customers can place their needs and orders. Within a short span of time, we stepped into action to research and strategize about the nature of their business to have a thorough understanding.
MDSHVAC has been set up with Magento as an online store. To unify their online and offline channel, we integrated their site end-to-end with ERP EPICOR P21 using our product CLORAS. This enables the business to provide their B2B customers with the omnichannel experience.
The various features which were interlinked and integrated with Magento Open Source for MDSHVAC are:
- Customer Approval Login
- Dynamic Customer Pricing
- Request for Quote
- Credit Line Offer
- Multi-warehouse Inventory Sync
- Store Pickup Shipping Method
- MDS Truck Shipping Method
- Order Processing
Read below to delve more into how the features played a major role in this collaboration.
Customer Approval Login:
The customer registration page is customised in a way they are required to provide addresses along with account information. Then arose a question that what if the customer is already part of P21 (Prophet 21) and have their addresses registered in ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)? Noticing this scenario, we have crafted an exclusive tab where customers can enter their P21 ID which makes registration easier.
Then, the customer identification is verified and the response is received with their respective addresses from P21. The returned address will be auto-populated in the registration form displayed. With that, the customer is ready to register with the online Magento site.
When customers register, they are requested to wait for approval from the client. This we feel the best way to ensure the reliability and trust of customers in the online store.
Once the customer is approved from P21, the details are seamlessly synced through CLORAS enabling the login feature in Magento making it simpler and effective for customers to access.
Different pricing for different customers!
This strategy is built on Magento Open Source software using CLORAS on a real-time basis. Whenever the customer logs in to the site, a request is initiated to P21 where the pricing is dynamically calculated and listed in the website for the items based on what pricing libraries assigned to the customer in P21. By this means, the customer on the online store will be able to experience the same pricing provided in the offline store.
This would also help very much in varying prices based on the quantity of goods they purchase.
Request For Quote:
Making customers know how much it would cost.
Request for Quote is a bidding process made on specific products the customers wish to buy. This module is built on the Magento site where customers can submit the quote specifying product and quantity per line. We have also provided a functionality for the customers to upload their Duct diagram as an image file along with the quote so that MDS (Manufactured Duct Supply) can provide the quote to customers with their requested dimensions on products.
Once the quote is approved from P21, our connector will then approve the quote in Magento following which the customer will be able to view the price of quoted products.
Purchase now, pay later!
Credit line is an asset provided for customers where they can purchase products on a loan basis. The functionality for this feature is provided through a module in the Magento by which customers are requested to send the filled application form.
Once the form is submitted, a mail will be sent to the MDS. On approval, the credit limit will be synced in real time through CLORAS from the P21 to Magento.
Once approved, customers can purchase products from a charge in the account payment method. This also helps in trust and relationship building with the customers.
Know what is where precisely!
MDSHVAC has three warehouses located in three different places of USA, with each warehouse having an array of products to display. The multi-store inventory is not provided with an out of the box approach on an earlier version of Magento. We implemented the feature by creating custom product attributes which are used for storing stock level for each warehouse.
Based on the availability of products in the multi-warehouses with the nearest distance calculated through Google Distance API, we have listed our location of warehouses in a dropdown under each shipping methods where the customer can see and directly go pick the goods from the warehouse. Or request delivery of goods through MDS shipping method. The Multi-Warehouse inventory is handled through CLORAS on the timely basis from P21.
Store Pickup Shipping Method:
Directly pick up order from the location you desire.
The custom module is created in Magento to handle this feature where we have provided two fields to get the details from the customer on preferred warehouse and preferred time to pick up goods from the store. Also customization is done on hiding shipping address in Magento as the physical address will serve as the place of store from where goods can be picked from.
The sales tax depends and differs from where the customer shall be picking up their orders. For instance, if a customer is fetching the order from a warehouse in Georgia, then the tax rate will be calculated for that specified address.
MDS Truck Shipping Method:
Ordered goods delivered, right at your doorstep.
Apart from the option to pick up good from the store, there is also a feature where goods can be delivered. Our client provides the shipment using their own freight truck with zero rate shipping charges.
However there are certain norms for same day delivery such as the orders should be placed before 11 am EST with total purchase amount greater than or equal to $1000 and delivery address should be less than 60 miles from the selected warehouse location. Only when these criteria are met, the truck shipping method will be enabled to deliver.
Also, there is a requirement on getting the customer name, contact number, preferred delivery time and preferred warehouses. So we customized the shipping method template of checkout page to make it more flexible.
Once the order is placed in the online store, it is an important process to sync the order with the ERP Order Management. The order details of products, shipping information, and the prices are sent over the API to the ERP which is integrated through the CLORAS. Once the information is processed, the sales invoice and shipment is generated in ERP will be automatically drawn to the online store.
Also, the orders edited in P21 can be synced back into Magento as a new order. This is how two-way synchronization is made possible through CLORAS. Order Processing simplifies with technology, to manage and deliver goods in time with par-excellence.
On the whole, this collaboration of creating an online space for an esteemed HVAC company in the USA and seeing them do well with orders pouring in through the e-commerce site has been a great journey of learning and knowledge, to create something which will impact their business sales forever.