As an Ariba seller, you want to capture the greatest possible value from your e-commerce efforts. Yet the vast majority of sellers get only a fraction of the value they could realize through e-commerce because once they start receiving online orders or sending e-invoices, they stop—rather than continuing their e-commerce journey by integrating with their customers.

 

If this sounds familiar and you aren't really sure what "integration" means or how it could benefit your organization, then keep reading. In the next couple of days, we will help you to answer why, when, and how to take this transformative step.

 

So let's start with the basic question:

 

What’s E-Commerce Integration?

The answer can be summed up in one little word: “touchless.” Integration is two-way, machine-to-machine communication that fully automates transactions between you and your customers. It connects your back-end system directly to the Ariba Network, providing a systematic and efficient way for your and your customers’ systems to interact without requiring a person to log in or handle processes manually. And once integration is set up, transactions can be truly touchless—orders automatically arrive in your order management system with the correct information and are processed, and accurate invoices are automatically generated in accordance with your business rules—so you only need to manage the occasional exceptions that may arise.

 

To understand integration, it’s helpful to think of e-commerce as progressing along a spectrum. At each step along the way, you gain additional benefits; integration represents the highest degree of automation and delivers by far the greatest value.

 

So initially you might simply transmit orders and invoices via email, which is one step above a paper-based process. At the next stage, you begin to automate portions of the order-to-cash process—for example, by logging into a portal such as your Ariba account to receive orders, and using PO-Flip or CSV upload to create invoices electronically. While resources like these increase your e-commerce rewards, they still require some manual
intervention, allowing errors to creep in and absorbing time and money to complete basic, repeatable processes that could be automated. With the straight-through electronic transacting delivered by integration, however, you eliminate these problems—moving your collaborative business commerce capabilities to a whole new level that maximizes the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of all your order-to-cash processes.

 

In The Next Blog: How E-Integration Stacks Up...

If you don't want to wait until tomorrow to learn more, then go to http://exchange.ariba.com/groups/supplylines/blog/2013/03/26/a-guide-to-business-commerce-integration to read the full article.