Dean Baxter 21.12.2017 10 min read

How is digitalization changing order to cash processes?

In the world of B2C, customers want accurate information on their order status and payment terms, and speed of delivery. They want a flexible, hassle-free experience. If they want to order again, change the delivery address or change the payment method they can want to be able to do it straight away from their phone. They want to see all information related their orders and payments in one place. They want to get alerts on their shipment and possibility to be able to track it. This is e-Commerce at its best. According to Accenture, cross-border e-Commerce is forecasted to grow at an annual compounded growth rate of 27.4 percent over the next five years.

The way forward for retailers is e-commerce. To prove this, we shall look at the example of Toys”R”Us. Bricks and mortar (B&M) businesses will not survive. Considering the growth in both parcel volume and revenue per parcel for both UPS and FedEx is well aligned with the growth in e-commerce. This also proves that for retailers or distributors, the lifeblood of their existence today is e-Commerce.

What is interesting in the world of both UPS and FedEx, is business-to-business (B2B) shipments by far outweigh business-to-customer (B2C) shipments in many aspects. So, why don’t shippers or suppliers provide the same level service to B2B customers around orders, fulfillment, shipments, and payment visibility?

Well, now you can provide full visibility into all the processes around orders, shipments, and fulfillment with digitization and disruptive technology. Are you ready for the digitalization of your order to cash processes to provide global supply chain visibility to your B2B customers?

Seamless integration with all customers

The biggest challenge as a supplier is integrating with business partners and customers. It is especially challenging for customers that order large quantities and ship the products to locations all over the world.

What does integrating with customers mean? It means that through connectivity you will be able to provide a customer with any necessary information on their shipments in real-time and transfer it to them automatically in any data format to any device or system. Whether it is an order, a shipping notice or instructions, tracking details, invoices, payment information or remittance advice the data must be available to the right stakeholders in real-time. Customer experience is crucial also when dealing with business-to-business customers. Providing them with the data that they can turn into insights to better optimize their processes related to orders and payments can be the key for you to generate more revenue and providing a more personalized experience.

The possibilities of digitalization can now help you to provide a more digital, insightful customer experience. To digitalize, the key is to provide seamless data integration across a distributed network of stakeholders and stakeholder systems. At the core is real-time data sharing through connectivity between the stakeholders. During the information transfer, the data is verified, validated and enriched as required in the cloud before it would be distributed to the parties. Data can come from multiple sources in different proprietary formats and be transformed to meet the requirements of the verified stakeholders that need to receive it. When all of this is done in real-time, the result is a connected supply chain ecosystem where the stakeholders can share data as and when needed.

Analytics and KPI’s

Digitalization allows for all order, payment, and shipment related data to be available on a single platform. The main benefit of data sharing is the value of insights based on historical and real-time data which can help to optimize the supply chain ecosystem. Generating data on all shipments and processes do not only provide core KPIs around orders, invoices, payments, and shipments for customers, but also around the performance of the logistics providers or contracted services. Customers now can view all the necessary information either from their systems/BI tools or via a portal connected to the order management/ fulfillment, O2C, P2P and shipment visibility.

Order process and shipment visibility

Just as in the world of B2C, B2B organizations want to understand the status of their orders, order confirmations, order fulfillment, on-time delivery performance, invoices, terms, on-contract/off-contract performance, payments, essentially any related the ordering and receiving of products. Now through business activity monitoring, algorithms, and business rules you have visibility into each of these processes/systems and you can provide the necessary alerts/notifications to the appropriate stakeholders to keep them informed about their orders or goods.

One of the largest challenges for a global suppliers or distributors of products is managing the complex ecosystem of transportation logistics providers. In most cases, you operate with forwarders, integrated logistics providers, carriers, 3PLs, 4PLs, and express companies to move this product across a myriad of trade lanes. Importantly, from an overall customer service viewpoint, we need to deliver on-time, the right product, and in good condition. Therefore, visibility of all logistics activities, such as inbound, outbound, and reverse (cross-border) is fundamental in manufacturing and retailing/distribution supply chain operations.

As some of the largest shippers, forwarders, and carriers that use the Youredi platform, we can utilize the connectivity with them to provide end-to-end trade lane visibility or global supply chain visibility. We can provide visibility not just at the container level but at the shipment or piece level if required. Furthermore, this extends across entire trade lanes, motor carriers, drayage, rail, or intermodal. This also leverages the use of internet of things (IoT) sensors, gateways, and telematics to capture critical shipment or shipment movement data.

Chatbots deliver the customer experience

Ring, ring... “Customer service here. How can I help you?” – answers the customer service representative on the phone.

Ring ring...”Dial number 1 for order updates, dial number 2 for shipment/delivery updates, dial number 3 for billing or payment details” – This is how an automated phone system assists you where you can never speak to someone and never get your question answered.

Instead, imagine that you can just open directly into WhatsApp Facebook Messenger or any other messaging platform to inquire the status of shipment number 24375449707? The Chatbot, that is integrated to all the business applications, such as order management system, transport management system, finance system, customer relationship system, or external stakeholder applications can now provide real-time feedback/update to the customers in their native language including images and/or video. Chatbot can now become a fully interactive virtual platform for querying supply chain activities for customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. Chatbot in the supply chain is quickly becoming the connectivity gateway to business applications for business customers. Very much the same way a consumer is alerted or can enquire or receive information about their shipment with the help of a chatbot.

The way forward for businesses today is digitalization. This is the only way organizations are going to evolve and survive just as bricks and mortar retailers have moved to e-commerce. Their customers are well informed and have memorable personalized experiences. 


Dean Baxter

General Manager - Americas

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