Plug E in to Commerce 
November 2000

Feel overwhelmed by the Electronic Commerce Juggernaut? If so, you're probably not alone.  There are so many possibilities and options that it is hard to know where to start.   Here are descriptions of common EC solutions and ideas of where to look in the supply chain for "E" opportunities. 

Enterprise Buying Solution Plug e-commerce software directly into an enterprise-wide purchasing system to automate the process of sourcing. Orders are processed through the ERP solution between buyers and sellers. New versions of ERP solutions include on-line ordering tools and processes.
Market site The strip malls of the web. A collection of sellers in one location. Post a requirement to a group of potential suppliers. The trade show method of shopping for a supplier.
Buy site A collection of several buyers in spot who may post consolidated requirements. A reverse trade show where sellers may transact business with more than one buyer.
Seller web site Use the internet to purchase directly from any seller's existing web site. 
Auction Use EC tools to set up an auction to sell surplus and scrap or a reverse auction to allow sellers to "bid" on the company's needs.
Direct market Use web based or EDI tools to connect buyer and seller trading partners together. Good for high volume, long term arrangements.
Buyer Portal Use web-based tools to set up an in-house portal for end-users. Links to established contracts and blanket orders. May link to a web-order system customized by a seller for a specific buyer.
Black Box Solution Retrofit existing processes and systems with a software "translator".  Connect to one or more vendor systems through the intermediary software.
Web-enabled purchasing Set up a complete web-based purchasing system using web-enabled software. Provide seamless integration of on-line tools, ordering and other business functions. 

Too much to bite off at one time? Start small and work your way up.  Examine the supply chain and Electrify any one or more pieces.  "E"  solutions are available for nearly all aspects of buying and selling.  Here is a list of supply-chain opportunities waiting to happen in your company.

Communicate with External customers
Use the web as a tool to facilitate the process of distributing information and data.
Communicate with
Internal customers
Make all data available to everyone all the time. Change tasks from a search for information to the application of knowledge.
Communicate with
Provide real-time information. Spend less time reporting and more time analyzing.
Publish Information about your company. Tell the world what and how you buy. There might be someone who has just what you need. Advertise company products and services. 
Use the web to promote the company and also any internal skills or materials that might be of value to someone else.
Post  specifications, forms, documents, rules, procedures, contact lists. 
Make it easy for suppliers and customers to locate and download information. Reduce time answering questions and faxing copies.
Be a good member of the community. Market the business Search for customers
Search for new products and technologies.
Become experts at locating information on-line. Get everyone involved. Offer "bounties" to employees for useful information.
Locate or post RFQs, RFPs and business needs
Post requirements on a web site or an RFP marketplace
Locating business information
Track down market trends,  customer demographics,  buildings, insurance and operation needs
Manage Licenses and Registrations Track Commodities
raw material and commodity prices
On-line purchasing solutions
Implement an on-line buying process with one or more vendors
Submit proposals Solicit for services Locate materials
Reduce acquisition cost
Use electronic documents, email, on-line templates and forms.
Outsource everything from Human resources to accounting
Track Freight
On-line, real-time freight tracking and tracing!
Forecast prices Direct to end-user buying & selling Surplus sales
Attract new trading partners Background review of potential trading partners
Use the web to vet potential customers and new trading partners.
Review other customer complaints and legal actions
Check to see if you are the only one having problems or concerns.
Automate customer feedback and surveys Research warranties Check recalls, returns and product failures
Automate logistics & transportation
Process, review and audit freight bills on line.
Schedule deliveries / shipments
Schedule shipments, deliveries and pickups on-line directly with transportation  services
Locate storage & handling
Replenish inventory
Set up automatic order fulfillment of commodities and low-value items.
Share production plans with suppliers and customers. Assure stock availability
Go on-line with suppliers to ensure that adequate inventories are available for production plans. 
Barter & Trade

** free spot**

Locate LTL carriers
Go on-line to find an independent or LTL trucking company to move a last-minute shipment..
Facilitate internal collaboration and cross functional teams Eliminating redundant processes Leverage data to make processes more efficient
Train employees
Subscribe to on-line training and/or use web-based tools to provide real-time training internally.
Cut processing costs Employee benefits services 
Hiring & outplacement
Use a service to manage the entire hiring and outplacement process.
Train customers
Provide regular and self-directed training materials and information 24 x7 to customers.
Networking with other professionals.
Trade tools, techniques, education and information with professional peers.
Pay bills electronically
Use an on-line accounting service to automate the submittal and reconciliation of seller invoices
Electronic funds transfer
Establish a policy that all long term contracts and trading partners will  accept EFT.
Alternate payment methods; Credit cards, E-cash
  Post downtime schedules and plans
Make integrated schedule information for customers, suppliers, shippers, staff, available real time on line   



MLTWEB is assembled and maintained by Michael L. Taylor, C.P.M. 
Materials and articles prepared by Mike may be shared for purchasing education provided that this source is cited and no fee is charged. The rights for any other use are withheld.
Copyright;  Michael L. Taylor, C.P.M.
Last Updated: 02/26/2012