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Katie S  
#1 Posted : Monday, November 8, 2021 2:00:48 PM(UTC)
Katie S

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Hi all -

Trying to do some brainstorming today, and hoping for some of your valuable feedback. For future releases, we want to add more B2B features to the AbleCommerce platform.

I'd like to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Here are a few ideas so far:


Admin
  • Create price levels based on customer roles

  • Volume discounts (improve)

  • Inventory control (improve)

  • Fulfillment needs to be automated

  • Shipstation - immediate fulfillment options

  • AvaTax - upgrade and add exemption certs


Retail
  • Manage Purchase Orders

  • Manage Invoices with terms, and aging

  • Additional Payment methods (ACH transactions)


Tight integrations with accounting packages

Thank you so much for your time!

Edited by moderator Monday, November 15, 2021 11:43:59 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Thanks for your support!

Katie
Secure eCommerce Software and Hosting

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Lyonsperf  
#2 Posted : Monday, November 8, 2021 3:39:58 PM(UTC)
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Special pricing per customer would allow products to be discounted per customer.
Also, a quick order form for repeat customers to input a list of pn's and qtys without having to scroll through the entire catalog.
Quickbooks integration is always helpful also...
rlopez397954  
#3 Posted : Monday, November 8, 2021 9:50:00 PM(UTC)
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It would be nice to have a sign up form feature integration that can be added in the footer for Merchants to use, if they choose, in their website settings. With auto integration with the MVC for groupings, ship groups, taxation I.E for business only. If this could be setup with a few clicks it would open more possibilities with the Able9 platform from a B2B business model.
judy at Web2Market  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, November 9, 2021 5:01:40 AM(UTC)
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I'm not sure if this falls within what you are considering B2B, but if so, it would be nice to allow merchants to sign in to see their own orders and do some fulfilling via the admin, like dealers.
Lyonsperf  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, November 9, 2021 6:40:36 AM(UTC)
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I hate to say it, but, if your scan the addons over at addons.oscommerce.com you will find several good ideas that could be part of the able platform.

Being that osc is community driven, or once was, many people have created nice additions to make it more flexible.
Katie S  
#6 Posted : Tuesday, November 9, 2021 11:07:10 AM(UTC)
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Thanks for the quick responses!

We're all looking forward to hearing more ideas. In the meantime, I will be checking out some of the features from other B2B apps on the market.
Thanks for your support!

Katie
Secure eCommerce Software and Hosting
Joe Payne2  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, November 9, 2021 2:55:52 PM(UTC)
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B2B can mean different things to different people. Here's what one of my clients does:

First you need a means to create API tokens for securing the endpoints. We built ours assigned to Able users so the api authentication requires able credentials AND the API token value.

Next you need an API throttle to eliminate DOS attacks and/or abuse of the endpoints. We used WebApiThrottle. Could even expand this to create a billable usage feature with overuse charges. Imagine me selling my solunar calendar service as an API to be called by remote websites. I need to know how many calls they are making to my API because I'm charging them $X/month per XXX API calls. I need the ability to switch them off at a threshold, or adjust their pricing based on the number of api calls. Then I need to generate an order to that customer for that billed amount on a specific day each week or month. Sort of one off, but really opens the door to SaaS opportunities which the Able platform has none today.

Catalog:
You need an API to expose the catalog to an outside system using JSON in and out. This opens the door to Angular, JQuery, PHP and other platforms to easily pull catalog data into their own systems.

You need a logging system to log all incoming API requests and outgoing API responses. Similar to what you do now with AuthNet gateway logging. These should be logged by api token with adjustable throttle limits provided by WebApiThrottle.

Now remote systems can read catalog data. Read product data. Search the catalog. Access product inventory levels etc. All securely and in a controlled fashion that doesn't risk website attack or abuse.


For the vendor side, we use warehouses to distinguish between vendors because warehouses are assignable to a shipment.

We created a 'Vendor Portal' based on the admin theme/area. This area has custom pages that let vendors see and update shipments assigned to their warehouse. We even let vendors post estimated ship dates, add merchant-notes to an order and post ship date/tracking data. Each update notifies either the shopper or merchant via new triggers in the Eventing system.

We added a 'Assigned Warehouse' property to the user object. So we can easily tell which warehouse a particular user is involved with. This allows multiple Able users to work the same warehouse.

Another piece would be exposing admin-related catalog data via JSON endpoints. Allow update-product actions to change inventory, visibility, price. Support variants as well. Everything changed must be logged by api token so data changes can be traced back to it's modifier. Add a tab to edit-products page for API Log, or create a separate API Dashboard under the Manage menu.

We built a complete returns management system. Create the return from the order, this pushes the return to the vendor dashboard and notifies vendor. When vendor receives return, they log into vendor portal and update return details. This notifies site admin. Site admin issues refund which notifies shopper. Hell we even auto-generate the UPS return label using the Able UPS gateway and attach it as a PDF to the shopper email. A complete operational flow of order returns. Zero paperwork.

Beyond the basics of exposing data and securely permitting remote data updates, B2B integration gets pretty specialized and difficult to generalize into a 'feature' of the able store. Everyone is different.
jeffr_ca  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, November 9, 2021 7:12:22 PM(UTC)
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Hi Katie,

At minimum we would need a corporate account that allows multiple users.

In a simple manner, CompanyA with multiple users that can log in and place orders on behalf of the company with the company's established pricing. Users have their own carts (saveable/shareable) but could probably see all company order history for quick re-order and follow up. The company would need an Admin/Owner user to manage (invite/delete) their list of permitted users.


More sophisticated solution would be roles based where Company may have different locations, managers and buyers.

Company/Location1/Manager1/Buyer1
Company/Location1/Manager1/Buyer2
...
...
Company/Location2/Manager3/Buyer1

etc.

A single or multiple buyer(s) could place orders for one or multiple location(s) under the permissions assigned by one or multiple manager(s).

Pricing/discounts could be established at the Company and/or Location level...some systems I've looked at have provisions for budgets & auto-approval limits or chain of approval structures for Locations/Managers/Buyers but probably beyond what we need here.

-Jeff
thanks 1 user thanked jeffr_ca for this useful post.
Joe Payne2 on 11/10/2021(UTC)
ray22901031  
#9 Posted : Wednesday, November 10, 2021 1:01:30 AM(UTC)
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Hello Katie,

Thirty-two years in business, although I can shoot for the sky, I'm going to try to keep it down to earth, things you can do without too much code modification.

#1. You've heard this one before, multiple billing addresses under one account, B2B companies use purchase departments and these purchase departments could have credit cards throughout the country, in other words multiple billing address. This falls under the previous topic, let an address be an address.

#2. We have already introduced an order locking mechanism, in other words after 30 days, and a few days extra out of courtesy for returns, we lock our orders, not even an administrator can make a change. All you can do is print, if you want to make a change, you need to unlock a specific field in the database. We lock automatically using a query that checks for anything after 32 days.

#3. I noticed you want to manage invoices, this is a terrible idea. Concentrate on the shopping cart aspects, and let QuickBooks or some other accounting program handle this. No matter what you try to do, it will never come close to what a real accounting program can do.

#4. With all due respect, your security structure is just awful. An example, how can you have an order admin and not be able to go into a user account to either create a new user or modify an existing one? As a developer, we were able to modify the two files necessary to allow this, but for a regular user, this is a real pain. Maybe you can create a nice checkbox wizard that can automatically create the two XML files needed for security.

#5. I love the price value based on customer groups or customer roles.

#6. You probably are not aware, I fall under certain MAP pricing for certain products, would be nice to have an option that says, view all MAP pricing when logged in, or give me the ability to turn this on per user or user group.

#7. We don't use your inventory control, we do it outside the system.

#8. Manage purchase orders, very interesting, we added two fields to the order line items table and can manage purchase orders using Crystal reports today.

#9. Ship-station, well, it works today, but it would be nice to support multiple packages that can retrieve multiple tracking numbers. At the very least, be able to return multiple tracking numbers, even if it gets included only in one package.

#10. Would love for a coupon code to work after the fact, in other words, let an operator in the backend enter one after an order insert.

These recommendations are more down to earth, I have pretty much been able to work around any limitations of the system without reinventing the wheel.

Although I think that Zapier is just OK, is anyone really actually using it? I think that better add-ons from Ablecommerce would be a good start, again, just check to see what your competitors are up to.

I hope this helps
Katie S  
#10 Posted : Wednesday, November 10, 2021 12:49:21 PM(UTC)
Katie S

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Lots of great ideas! Thank you ALL so much!!

Ray, I'm curious what you use for inventory control. Is it a custom system, or did you integrate with another app?

About Zapier...I am somewhat disappointed we haven't seen more customers using it. We need to get in touch with them and see if we can run some co-marketing campaigns.
Thanks for your support!

Katie
Secure eCommerce Software and Hosting
ray22901031  
#11 Posted : Wednesday, November 10, 2021 5:15:38 PM(UTC)
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It's a simple app that I created years ago, it's a check in and check out process. When inventory gets removed, it gets scanned out with the quantity and ticket number. It uses a touchscreen system with large fonts and buttons that my people love.

When inventory comes in, and get scanned in. Simple, but it's been working for the last 12 years.

Edited by user Wednesday, November 10, 2021 5:16:20 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

ray22901031  
#12 Posted : Wednesday, November 17, 2021 2:55:26 AM(UTC)
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In response, on how to make the system more conformable to our B2B needs. We just implemented our purchase order system, which only consist of 2 database fields at the order line level. My people will enter a date and a quantity, and then I'm able to print a PO report for us to use. I have attached a copy of a report for your preview.

I was thinking, it would be nice to create a user on the system for creating purchase orders. In other words, I would create a user called Motorola-PO, and literally create a cart based on the items that I need to order. I would mark this as deferred payment, and put under the notes, that this is a purchase order.

However, we would require the ability to print the purchase order showing the cost of sale. This is critical, since Motorola is constantly changing their pricing. This would be the only way when placing an order that we would notice that the cost of sale on our system would be different from Motorola's.

Also, having the ability to print what I would consider to be a cost analysis report based on an order would be extremely helpful, we would see the cost of sale, we would see the profit margins, and a lot more important financial information. This will be on an order by order basis, and will serve dual purposes. The ability to see profits on a particular order and the ability to use that report for a PO.

I actually think this would be straightforward to implement, I hope you like this idea as I think it would benefit numerous people.

Image2.png (112kb) downloaded 8 time(s).
chip10541688  
#13 Posted : Monday, April 4, 2022 12:04:28 PM(UTC)
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I think all the above are good suggestions and points, and all the items in your initial post are necessary. We would need two options on pricing for B2B customer. 1. set price and/or discount no matter how many they buy. 2. set price less the regular volume discount.

Bigger companies will always have a PO, as they like to dictate what you need to do and what their terms are no matter what you tell them your terms are. However, just having a field for a PO# for a first-time customer with a credit card order would simplify the order process for many of the one-time buyers. Some will just put it in the shipping address.

For B2B, we do more LTL shipments. I'd like to see an option for creating a custom shipping method that we could put the carriers tracking URL in a field that can be maintained just like the UPS, USPS, and FedEx carriers. No way you could manage those rates, we already have to figure that one out.

I would add, not just for B2B, some sort of a CRM system with forms for customers to inquire about products or ask for support. Email is just not reliable anymore, and you need to have a way for manage those inquires and make sure they get answered. So, a customer portal of a limited scope would be good. Still the problem of a notification of a reply get marked as spam in the customers inbox, which brings me to having a mobile phone option and sending text notifications. Twilio may have an option there for you as well as an AbleCommerce/merchant branded chat integration and mobile phone texting option.

Good luck! Glad to here you asking for input.

Chip

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