Website Integration: ‘Form’ AND ‘Function’
It’s time for your website to be functional, as well as informational
Historically, most service center websites have been informational, providing pages of who, what, where and how data. Larger service centers began providing functional websites years ago to make it easier for customers to do business with them. More recently, midsized and even small service centers have begun making the investment to upgrade their websites and provide “function” in addition to information.
One of the critical steps to enhancing functionality for customers is to integrate the website experience with the service center’s enterprise business software and database. Some of the most popular areas of interface are:
n Inventory—Integration can offer the ability for customers to check actual stock status by item or dimension.
n Request for quotations—Integrating the website with a customer/item/quantity pricing matrix stored in the service center’s business software can offer customers the ability to get an accurate price quote via the web. Once the customer completes the request for quotation, proper integration can automatically e-mail the salesperson a copy for follow-up.
n Order processing—Should the customer accept the terms of the quotation generated, one click at the website could create an actual sales order in the business software, check margins and credit, print the pick ticket in the warehouse if allowed, e-mail the salesperson that an order was just created, and generate an order confirmation that automatically gets e-mailed to the customer. In addition, with applicable functionality integrated with the business software, customers could potentially use the website to check the status of any orders they have in-house (such as “on the saw,” “quality control” or “shipping today”) without having to call and wait for someone to track it down.
n Requests for documentation—Another typically important area of integration between a service center’s website and business software is the ability for customers to request documentation, such as material test reports, invoices or signed proof of deliveries, by providing a purchase order number or other key information via the website.
While there are many others, these have been the more popular areas of integration between website and business software applications. Building the integration between website and enterprise systems is typically the result of collaboration between web developer and software supplier/integrator. With the understanding that proper security at your website is paramount to a successful implementation, providing functional website interaction can enhance your relationship with customers by making it simpler for them to get critical information from you.
|Compusource Corp., La Palma, Calif., offers the Metal Center Management System designed for the specific needs of metal service centers. For more information, visit www.metalservicecentersoftware.com.