Ecommerce and the Informational Internet

Everyday there are those who will ask me questions like, “What’s on TV tonight?” or “Do you know what the capital of Connecticut is?” or “How do you really pronounce Lancaster, Pennsylvania?”

What amazes me is there was a time when I would have referred to print publications to answer these questions. It would either be a television directory, atlas, encyclopedia or dictionary.

Today I spend a few seconds online in my favorite search engine and produce the answers I need from a variety of sources. I get to choose which sources I place the most trust in.

If your child is having difficulty with their homework and they ask you to help you can generally find supplemental materials online to help them – and yourself.

If you have questions about tax laws you can find information on the web.

If you simply want to know what’s playing on television at any given time there are a few alternatives to finding exactly what will be on your system. Those alternatives will be found online.

This is reality in the 21st century. Some may call it information overload, but for those who need to know they are most often turning to the Internet for answers.

As a business owner, how are you tapping into that ‘need to know’ mentality of your customers? What are you doing online that will assist them in understanding your product better?

There’s nothing worse than for a mildly motivated consumer to visit an ecommerce site and find something that seems interesting, but then leaves them in the dark about what the product can do.

They are thinking, “Man, I really liked that Whatzit, but I’m not sure if it’s a can opener or a weed whacker used by mice.”

The World Wide Web has become the dominant source for information. In the 21st century people are convinced that being able to access news when they want the information is imperative. Consumers have come to expect the immediacy of information and product availability.

One of the things I love is when I get an email from someone asking if I remember a certain product. I love this because in many cases I can conduct a few minutes of research and find that the product is still being manufactured and where it can be purchased. I feel like a purveyor of product reunions.

The web brings the trivial and the necessary together in one hi-speed connection.

You can set your business site apart by paying attention to the details of detail. Do you just sell a product or can you help your customers understand the product? Do you simply provide a service or do your customers know what to expect from your service?

The Internet is the equivalent of information in the new millennium. When people want to know and they want to know now they look online.

Your business website has to provide more than products to sell. It must also provide information needed to evaluate and imagine what life with your product will be like. When you fail to provide the details you also limit the ability of consumers to appreciate the value your product can offer.

Microsoft Great Plains Integration Scenarios – EDI, eCommerce

Microsoft Dynamics GP, successor of Great Plains Software Dynamics and eEnterprise is very popular ERP platform, deployed as accounting back office and integrated with various business management system. Among the most typical scenarios of GP MRP integration are Electronic Document Interface EDI and eCommerce. Let’s consider and compare the methodologies, integration and software development tools, programming techniques and customization option

1. EDI. Electronic Document Interchange is relatively matured technology and typically it is realized in the form of fixed length text formatted files or text streams. Newer approach may consider new generation of similar to EDI in concept XML streams. When we are talking about GP, we should expect two types of EDI integrations – when you are vendor (in this case you receive EDI formatted either Sales Order Processing orders or invoices or Accounts Receivables invoices); and when you are customer (in this case you place EDI purchase orders to your vendors). From the technology standpoint, EDI is not really difficult in standard and even custom realization and programming. Microsoft Dynamics GP, starting with version 8.0, is supported on the only DB platform – Microsoft SQL Server. Current version of Microsoft Great Plains is 10.0, available on MS SQL Server 2005 or 2000. You program EDI streams with SQL select command, and you format text fields with cast or convert constructions. When you import external EDI streams you, it is when you create SOP Invoices, you should consider utilizing eConnect

2. eCommerce. If you are e-commerce programmer, please invest your time in eConnect technology learning. You probably heard about eConnect and about the fact that it was dedicated initially to e-commerce software developers. We would like to sort of popularize eConnect and say this – if you do eCommerce integration from scratch, you have to feed eCommerce orders and invoices into GP tables: SOP10100, SOP10200. However, you should know that eConnect already has this job done for you in eConnect business objects – encrypted stored procedures. There are several situations when you should break through eConnect restrictions. First one is the fact that eConnect replicates Dexterity business logic (DYNAMICS.DIC is Microsoft Dexterity dictionary, where all the core modules business logic is stored) and even trusting astonishing SQL Server performance, you can still have concerns that eConnect might be a bit slow, if you transactions volume crosses thousand records per session. If eConnect performance is in question, you may consider doing simplified integration in SQL stored procedures using insert into logic. The second eConnect limitation is absence of posting logic – in order to post SOP batches you will need to deploy Albaspectrum posting server.

Order Fulfillment – The Process Involved

If you look for the meaning of Order fulfillment in a business dictionary you will find that it is a sequence of procedures involved in fulfilling the needs of the purchaser. In the broader context it is a process of events that are carried out to execute the customers’ purchases and the steps involved in carrying out these events are as follows:

Product Inquiry: This is the initial inquiry about the product that you have available to the clients. They can do this on your website and they will be informed about the products. They will find a Catalogue with all the products available to them and then they can search for their desired product.

Sales quote: A sales quote is a guideline of the price of the products they wish to purchase and will enable the buyer to work out the budget involved.

Order configuration: Once the sales budget is decided upon this is the next step involved. It is the process where the products are finalised and selected depending upon the customers’ requirements.

Order Booking: This is the official document that confirms the booking made by consumers and is issued to them

Order Acknowledgment/Confirmation: This is the confirmation or acknowledgment that confirms that you have received the order and that it is being processed.

Invoicing: This is the paperwork that will set out the actual cost of the goods to the client according to their requirements.

Order Sourcing/ Planning: This is the process that is to be carried out to find the products and prepare them to be delivered to the client.

Order changes: This is the process that is carried out to make any amendments, should the purchaser change his mind about his requirements.

Order Processing: Once the order has been confirmed it is then processed at the warehouse or place where it is stored where it is then packed and delivered to the purchaser.

Shipment: This refers to the transportation and shipment needed in delivering the products.

Delivery: This refers to the final delivery of the products to the customers.

Settlement and Returns: This involves the settlement of the invoice once the delivery has been received and should the goods be unacceptable or not required then they can be returned using the returns procedures.