B2B Marketplace: Order Management & Fulfillment & Where It Fits in the Equation

Part III of our B2B Marketplace series in which Matt Boland, Director, Global Partner Development at Ultra, examines the revenue potential for embracing marketplace as part of a holistic eCommerce platform.

Ultra Commerce Order Management System

To support a marketplace that uses multiple shipping locations for each supplier, an Order Management System is required. One of the more beneficial, dynamic, and collaborative capabilities of the Ultra Commerce Order Management module delivers is the ability to address the Split Order Fulfillment challenge.  Here are a few complex examples, albeit simply written.  Also, see Figure 2, an illustration of this concept.  

  1. Availability of Inventory Example (B2A) 
  • Orders are split amongst Seller Participant Groups to fulfill 100% of the order.  A Marketplace Customer places an order of 30,000 pieces of Product A.  The Marketplace Application’s Sourcing Logic splits (decomposes) the order allowing the fulfillment of 20,000 pieces of Product A by Seller 1 and 10,000 pieces of Product A by Seller 3 to reorchestrate and fulfill the entire order. 
  • Orders can be split amongst Seller Participant Groups to fulfill 100% of the order.  A Marketplace Customer orders 30 units of Product A and 30 units of Product B.  The Marketplace Application’s Sourcing Logic splits the order because it recognizes that no single Seller has both Product A and Product B in stock; therefore, it is split (decomposed) to complete the order of 30 pieces of Product A by Seller 1, and 30 units of Product B by Seller 3 then reorchestrates it to fill the order in its entirety. 

Product Substitution Intervention Example (B2A) 

A customer places an order for 3 of Product A.  Marketplace Staff can split and modify the order allowing the partial fulfillment of 2 of Product A and 1 of Product B (as a substitute product) to fulfill the entire order. 

Figure 2: Marketplace Imperative – Split Order Fulfillment  

Notes: 

  • The rules and visibility for this activity are set up by the Marketplace and may be fully exposed to the buyer or invisible to them.   
  • When creating the sourcing logic for split order fulfillment, many variables need to be accounted for. We are taking it to its simplest terms. 
  • This can even be completed down to an individual / single piece.   

 The extent of the services can vary by customer and may include these available options: 

  • Marketing / SEO services to help each storefront create customer awareness and drive traffic to the site, 
  • Customer Relationship Management and Digital Marketing to manage sales processes, customer information, and repetitive online marketing activities, and 
  • Call Center – for technical support of the websites and support end purchaser order inquiries, account management, and other customer support functions. 

 Figure 3. Commerce-as-a-Service Use Case illustrates that the platform supports this business concept. 

Key Differentiation 

The platform provides you, the Marketplace Commerce-as-a-Service business operator, the ability to offer your customers: 

  • B2B Marketplace to purchase / replenish from distributors and manufacturers via a B2B marketplace (or B2B distributor / manufacturer storefront on the platform) with support for quotes, subscriptions, and other non-standard product sales. 
  • Business Opportunity through disruptive Licensing – You are never restricted by the number of sites you launch on Ultra Commerce.  As a Brand, Manufacture, or Franchisor, the Parent organization can provide eCommerce as a Service to each participant.  Each participant can manage their own store within the confides of the business rules setup by the Operator.  We call this “Multi-Enterprise Commerce as a Service (MeCaaS)”.  This also means that in a Marketplace scenario, the Operator can support participants with less sophisticated eCommerce experience by offering, selling, implementing, onboarding, and managing individual and proprietary websites on behalf of vendor participants.
  • Individual, branded storefronts that offer all of their inventoried products plus the complete product assortment available on the marketplace (fulfilled via drop-ship) with support for multi-lingual / multi-currency / multi-payment options localizations. 
  • Pre-populated catalog with clean, standardized product data – including inventory availability, fulfillment rules, and expanded assortment.  Ongoing inventory updates are also available as frequently as needed. 
  • Multi-party order management, with line item or sub-line item status tracking and notifications.  Thorough status tracking via tracking number and bill-of-lading at line item (sub-line item) level. 
  • Customer service and support for all orders / quotes, account management functions, supplier / vendor management, including guided selling, and the ability to “join” a shopping session. 
  • Real-time Available-to-Promise at the point of purchase based on actual on-hand inventory from either at the store-front or from the fulfiller (drop-shipper). 
  • Virtual Omni-Channel:  Simple business terms can allow even storefront operators to “share” their inventory across storefronts to meet customer demand while allowing both parties to make business financial obligations against the sale. 
  • Reverse Logistics and Returns – instructions, business rules and capabilities for processing multi-party returns. 

Conclusion 

It is now possible and cost-effective to run Commerce-as-a-Service and a Marketplace business yourself, your customers, your suppliers (even your co-opetition should you choose), members (in the case of an association). 

All this capability is out-of-the-box on a single, integrated platform with a consumption-based subscription licensing model that allows and encourages multi-enterprise use since we meter a combination of page views / orders, making this model cost-effective and friendly.

Our simple monthly subscription licensing model is billed on a per order cost for the total orders placed on a given month. Monthly billing allows the Operators of the Marketplaces to pay for only what is required each month, based on the total orders processed that month. A price break is given after meeting certain bands of completed orders. Adding additional storefronts or sellers does not increase cost but can decrease the overall cost per order.

For more information or to schedule a demo, reach out to Ultra Commerce at www.ultracommerce.co.  We would love to help you grow your Marketplace and show you the value of doing so in a Commerce-as-a-Service model! 

About Ultra Commerce 

Ultra Commerce is an enterprise eCommerce platform for B2B, B2C, and Marketplaces. Its fully integrated platform features built-in OMS, CMS, and PIM, providing a seamless end-to-end customer experience to help organizations grow their online business. The Ultra Commerce solution is enterprise-scale, suited for the complexities of the modern digital business. With teams worldwide, Ultra Commerce offers more than just a platform but a partner for their customers as they grow. 

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