Technology has slowly taken over our everyday lives. Some of us still may not realize how much technology affects us until we try to live without it. This becomes painfully clear to me when I see a business request a fax or continue to send paper invoices, both allowing room for error that is not necessary. I myself have slowly come to the realization that technology rules my life. It’s sad, but I have to admit that I feel incomplete and unprepared when I leave home without my cell phone or iPod. When did this happen? Technology, like internet, cell phones, eReaders and iPods are relatively new in my life so how did it take over so quickly? It all comes down to convenience. Simple put technology makes the things we love easy. So it’s no surprise that it works so well in business.
In business technology makes everything streamlined and efficient. Invoicing becomes more exact. Shipping information can be communicated quickly. The possibilities are endless. That is where B2B eCommerce comes into play. B2B or Business to Business is the electronic exchange of business documents between businesses for the purpose of conducting commerce. This article from Electronic Cash News helped me understand B2B eCommerce. Most of the time, businesses using B2B technology will be using EDI (Electronic Data Interchange). This technology allows the exchange between the 2 parties to have little to no manual interaction, allowing companies to cut out the middle man, which in this case is usually paper.
When I compare companies that have an EDI with those that do not, the differences are numerous. With EDI, invoices are automatic (to an extent) and accurate, while the company without EDI may send invoices via a number of different methods such as snail mail, email, or fax. All methods that require manual interaction, which is inefficient and can lead to errors. But these efficiencies are not just in invoicing, they can also help many other aspects of the business such as order entry, shipping updates and even communicating stocking status.
With the advances in technology, especially with EDI, I find it hard to understand why more companies are not moving to more of these types of B2B interactions. I suppose these businesses are the ones that said internet retailers wouldn’t last, but according to this article from Internet Retailer “half of retail transactions will take place online or be influenced by what consumers see on the web by 2013.” So it looks like it’s time to break the news to your fax machines and your paper; the internet is here to stay and if your business wants to keep up it’s time to move on to some up to date technology.
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