The 7 Questions Interview Series: eCommerce and Supply Chain Data Integration
The 7 Questions Interview Series: eCommerce and Supply Chain Data Integration “The 7 Question Series” is an investigative content series where we seek out key leaders in a specific industry and/or subject matter expertise area and ask them 7 key questions that “enquiring minds want to know”. There is a twist however to these questions. We provide the person being interviewed with a hypothesis for each question. This helps to frame and set context for their answer.
eCommerce and Supply Chain Data Integration Series Objectives:
eCommerce and Supply Chain Data Integration Series Objectives: The objective of the e-commerce series is to establish direct connections with eCommerce experts across the globe and ask them the same set of 7 questions regarding e-commerce data integration in the supply chain. We want to derive insights from their direct experiences and expertise that will help e-commerce companies, both B2B and B2C at all stages of their evolution. We are also curious to see if their answers are similar or different. These interviews will be featured on this website as a series.
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Interview with Brian Terrell, Founder of the BTerrell Group and CodePartners.
About Brian Terrell
Brian Terrell is the founder of both BTerrell Group and CodePartners. Brian oversees management and strategy for both companies. Brian received his Bachelors of Science from Texas A&M University in College Station in 1984 and began his career with Arthur Andersen & Co. in Dallas, Texas. He continued his career in real estate with Garrett Co. and Trammell Crow Co., then moved into finance with Bluebonnet Savings Bank for the next two years. In 1991, Brian founded Terrell and Terrell CPAs with his wife Nancy. In 2008, the company was rebranded as BTerrell Group with Brian Terrell becoming its Managing Partner. Brian serves on the Management Information Services Advisory Board at The University of Texas at Dallas and the Sage Development Partner Advisory Board. He can frequently be found speaking at conferences, where he most enjoys talking with groups about automation and innovation.
1. Recent statistics tell us that close to 50% of consumers do not buy online. Why do you think that’s the case?
It does seem like everyone’s buying online, but, that’s not really the case. I think the publicity afforded the phenomenal growth and market capitalization of online retailers takes our focus off the real world, which still includes a lot of traditional retail! If half of consumers still do not buy online, then I think that’s due to a combination of reasons:
- It’s hard to believe, but 30% of Americans do not have broadband Internet connections at home, according to the Pew Internet Project’s September 2013 survey. We may think that everyone has sufficient bandwidth to enjoy an efficient online shopping experience, but that’s simply not the case. What about shopping on a smartphone? According to a January 2014 survey by the same group, only 58% of American adults own a smartphone. This is evident in other technology areas, such as some companies’ reluctance to invest in HR employee portals because of an insufficient number of employees with the bandwidth required to generate a return on investment.
- Recent high profile security breaches at big name companies such as Target, Home Depot and JPMorgan Chase frighten everyone. Some folks simply deduce that the only guaranteed defense against online identity theft is to either stay offline completely or to, at least, never pay for anything online.
- Some consumers prefer to buy certain products in person, such as clothes and other items that need to be seen to achieve a buying level of comfort. I just can’t tell if I’m going to like those shoes until I see them on my feet in the mirror!
2. Only 10% of Canadians plan to do their holiday shopping online in 2014 compared to 44% in Britain. Why do you there is such a large margin?
I think Canada suffers from a lack of domestic sourcing, consumer density, and sleepy technology. The sourcing and density issues drive up delivery costs with duties and freight while spreading a thin base of consumers across many willing suppliers. The technology issue frustrates consumers with outdated and unimpressive shopping sites that don’t match up all that well with the competition south of the border.
3. In our experience very few e-commerce sites integrate their systems and data making it impossible to scale and putting customer service and relationships at risk. Why is that?
Otherwise technology forward companies fail to integrate disparate systems for a whole host of reasons, including
- The failure of a technology advisor to quantify and articulate the value proposition of a potential integration.
- The memory of a painful and unsuccessful prior attempt to automate the exchange of data between systems.
- Older, closed technology that doesn’t lend itself to sharing information through application programming interfaces or web services.
- The vested interest of an employee or a department to not obsolete the manual transfer of information between systems.
- With respect to electronic commerce, systems must favor selling workflow and features, which short changes data sharing functionality.
4. In your view are online retailers and sites leveraging their transactional data strategically? Are they making good use of their data to make strategic decisions and generate more revenue?
The most consistent complaint I hear from users of financial transaction systems is “I can’t get the information I need to manage my business”. This affects all systems and not just online merchants. And, this happens to be a technology area showing some exciting advances. Cloud-based business intelligence tools delivering manipulable data for consumption by unsophisticated users unlocks the opportunity for those users, who may be the leaders in design and merchandising, to make better and faster decisions to drive sales forward. Lots of advances are currently occurring in forecasting and budgeting applications that lend themselves to the strategic use of transactional data.
5. What are the key differences and similarities when it comes to B2B and B2C e-commerce?
B2B e-commerce provides advanced institutional features to manage supply chains, logistics, and purchasing analytics. B2C e-commerce has a greater emphasis on selection, presentation, and smaller scale customer service (returns!). Both must include features that allow for customer relationship management, catalog management, and payment options.
6. What’s next for e-commerce? Where do you see things headed?
I’m excited by the continued evolution of mobile payments and smartphone technology. Synergies in these areas will drive increased participation and innovative marketing. For example, loyalty programs and near field communications integrated with electronic commerce will drive consumption based on location technology, buying habits, and personal marketing.
7. How involved and active is the C-suite in developing an e-commerce strategy and monitoring the success of e-commerce sales?
Businesses with a demonstrated track record of online sales success certainly have the attention of an organization’s business leaders and decision makers. Those companies attempting to prove the concept in markets or industries without clear success stories and established returns on investment appear as leading edge, risky investments. For these, the cost of an excellent online presence shocks the check signers but, once successful, always compares favorably to the human resource and occupancy costs of the alternatives. With some success, the decision makers will greatly involve themselves in looking for ways to further leverage electronic commerce.
About the BTerrell Group
BTerrell Group, LLP helps mid-market companies discover and eliminate internal business challenges through software and services. Specializing in Intacct, Sage 300 ERP (formerly called Sage ERP Accpac), Sage CRM, and Sage HRMS, BTerrell Group relies on our clients’ success to gauge our own success. BTerrell Group is the leading Sage 300 ERP vendor in Dallas and surrounding areas, and we aim to become the leading Intacct partner as well. We credit our growth to successful long-term partnerships with our clients, our 20+ years of history in the business, and our team of consultants who work tirelessly to ensure sustainable, winning results for our clients.
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