Join Craig Stockmal from FocusPoint as he discusses what it takes to make eCommerce user with podcast host Carl Lewis.
Carl Lewis: Welcome to The Connected Enterprise podcast. I’m Carl Lewis, your host from Vision33, and my guest is Craig Stockmal. Craig, where do I say you’re from? You call your guys FocusPoint, but that's the application, right? I’ve heard Focused Impressions, but it seems like FocusPoint has been at the forefront.
Craig Stockmal: Thank you, Carl. We call ourselves by the solution name instead of our company name because that’s how everybody knows us in the SAP Business One marketplace.
Carl Lewis: Perfect. Craig, please tell us about yourself, how you got where you are, and FocusPoint.
Craig Stockmal: FocusPoint is dedicated to SAP Business One in the B2B space. I’ve been in B2B commerce, mostly with Fortune 500 companies, throughout my career. We found a need for it when we built a company in 2014. Early in our time going to market, we did some integrations with SAP, and we realized the difficulty of the long integration process. So, we continued to build on our knowledge and SAP resources and focused exclusively on the SAP marketplace because the partners have such great relationships.
Craig Stockmal: Plus, we have access to a great customer base that can use our solution. It’s a great fit that’s continued to evolve—we’ve built our IP over the last seven years in this market.
Carl Lewis: Craig, when folks think about eCommerce, they think, "I'm doing business with Amazon," but that’s business-to-consumer, aka B2C. But you focus on business-to-business, aka B2B. What's the difference?
Craig Stockmal: With B2B, there's so much more. On Amazon, you search for a product in the fewest clicks and check out. In B2B, you're providing a customer experience specific to their business partner relationship with the customer. You're providing a self-service portal where they can manage documents, invoices, quotes, deliveries, credit, memos, and service requests. You’re giving the business partner a targeted catalog with specialized pricing and the workflows associated with that business relationship.
Carl Lewis: Every customer on Amazon gets the same price, but B2B is unique to individual businesses. There are scores of businesses selling to distributors, wholesalers, manufacturing companies, etc., but many don't have B2B websites. Why are they slow to adapt to the technology?
Craig Stockmal: Many businesses engage with their customers in multiple ways: external sales, inside sales, customer service, etc. And there were many ways of ordering and informing the customer base. The pandemic was a virtual customer engagement evolution, with more automation and self-service to mitigate being unable to help customers face to face. We saw a lot of B2B growth in the last two or three years. It's become the customer service of the organization.
Carl Lewis: A year ago, I read that at least 25% of SMBs (small to midsized businesses) don't have an eCommerce website. Some may not need one, but 25% blows me away—that people still try to do it how they've always done it.
Craig Stockmal: It's much easier to get into an eCommerce solution in B2C. B2B has complex workflows, which makes time to market longer. There are also high costs and customizations to get those workflows to your customer base so they can engage with them. That's what we're doing: Helping our customers engage with their customers. It's a never-ending journey. The B2B implementation is never done because we want to continuously help our customers engage with their customers.
Carl Lewis: You mentioned the pandemic affected how fast people wanted to move. How did FocusPoint address that requirement?
Craig Stockmal: We had an influx of requests to provide customer portals where people can look at their whole history and relationship with a business. But then they wanted to evolve to eCommerce and use AI to instruct the customers on which products are suitable for them based on their pricing terms, relationships, etc. The B2B portal has become the face of customer service.
Carl Lewis: Now that we’re mostly on the other side, is demand waning?
Craig Stockmal: No, it’s increasing. We're seeing a multi-phase eCommerce journey and a constant improvement in the functionality and business processes they offer customers. Engagement is much more than products. It's hard to keep customers if it’s not easy to do business with you. Customers have a choice, so that’s how you keep customers.
Carl Lewis: You said some of these projects are never done because maybe you acquire a new customer and they want something different, so you change your software and processes. I’ve found executives want to say, "We did that project. It’s done." Do they recognize that you need training for customers and employees to install a new process or start a website?
Craig Stockmal: They seem to realize that the customer journey is a corporate initiative and providing a 360-degree customer experience is mandatory now. They’ll continually try to improve their ability to attract and retain customers for life. In B2B, there’s an 80/20 principle—80% of your revenue is from the top 20% of your customers. Giving them tools to engage with you and get the information they desire is critical.
Carl Lewis: Why do you focus on SAP Business One and that marketplace?
Craig Stockmal: We got feedback from partners and customers that eCommerce and B2B are costly. Sometimes, the integration process was more expensive than ERP. The time to market was costly, and the constant changes as a cost they didn't know were on the horizon every time they wanted to upgrade SAP required an integration cost. We created an integration exclusive with this marketplace to take the integration cost off the table and continue with a configuration process. We give them a tool they can constantly configure to meet their business requirements and grow with. Taking that bubble and cost out provides great value to this marketplace.
Carl Lewis: By selecting a larger marketplace, you created a template that fits those businesses versus having to do one-offs all the time.
Craig Stockmal: Yes. The solutions in the marketplace all offered data connection, which is easy with any ERP. But when you get into B2B, you get into business processes, which vary between business partners. The value is offering an integration that addresses business processes and is flexible enough to be reconfigured as the business journey changes.
Carl Lewis: You recently started integrating SAP Business One and FocusPoint using Vision33's The Saltbox Platform, an integration platform as a service (iPaaS). Why did you choose Saltbox? What benefits does FocusPoint enjoy, and how will it benefit future clients?
Craig Stockmal: First, we’re always looking for ways to improve FocusPoint, and expanding our integration options is one of our strategic goals. The biggest advantage for clients is that Saltbox allows us to replicate our integration workflows faster, for even shorter implementation times. And Saltbox plays a critical role in data transformations. As we align FocusPoint with Saltbox, it'll offer easy integrations with other systems customers are using, creating new opportunities for Saltbox and FocusPoint.
Carl Lewis: Is it true that it almost cuts implementation time in half?
Craig Stockmal: Yes. When we onboard a new customer or transition one to Saltbox, we intend to set them up in two months, then continue with a multi-faceted approach as their B2B requirements evolve and they want to offer their customers more self-service. Saltbox is a wonderful tool to expand our breadth and reach and offer more value.
Carl Lewis: Craig, you have 300+ SAP Business One customers running FocusPoint today, right?
Craig Stockmal: Correct.
Carl Lewis: Are they global?
Craig Stockmal: Yes. In fact, we just got our first customer in Asia. It was the one area we hadn't participated in, and now we’re there too. We work with some of the largest SAP customers in North America, South America, and Europe. Our best customers are some of the most knowledgeable in the SAP Business One space. They know the time to market, that the difficulty of integration affects their time to market, and the additional costs they can incur as their businesses change. When they see the value of the integration with FocusPoint, it's an easy sell for us and gives them an easy pathway to increase their B2B exposure.
Carl Lewis: And there’s competition. There are other eCommerce platforms in the Business One space, but FocusPoint has made a considerable impact. Your application’s quality is beyond what we've experienced with others, and the customers are much more satisfied. Most are before the Saltbox change. Have you discussed a program to help folks move to The Saltbox Platform?
Craig Stockmal: A good opportunity that makes it effortless is when an existing customer is upgrading from, for example, version 9.3 to 10.0. We can upgrade and integrate with Saltbox simultaneously and without cost. It’s a good time for someone to consider, "Does my integration give me a customer journey for the future?" If it doesn't, it's time to look at something to expose workflows and business processes to further engage your customers.
Craig Stockmal: For example, our customer, CPM Corporation, is a large global SAP Business One customer—they have 21 SAP databases and are on four continents. They started ordering equipment from us. Then they expanded their B2B footprint and offered their customer service requests through FocusPoint. Now they can track those service requests and the parts to replace their equipment. Customers have a 360-degree view of their relationship with CPM.
Craig Stockmal: That's what we envision for many customers, no matter their market. We want to show anything our customers have created in SAP to serve their marketplace. We want it to be easy for them to expose their customers to it.
Carl Lewis: And there could be other applications they want to integrate with their Business One application and eCommerce to get everything “talking” better—like HubSpot, Salesforce, or another CRM system. There are many small solutions companies can’t live without that are industry-specific or standalone but aren’t integrated with anything. They need to pull things together so everything uses the same integration platform. It’s far more efficient.
Craig Stockmal: And think about the benefit of the customer. They have Saltbox and access to multiple tools for an easy path to integration. They can focus on their customer journey versus the cost and time of the integration associated with that journey.
Carl Lewis: Craig, do you anticipate customers that deploy with Saltbox can maintain things themselves and change their systems versus depending on FocusPoint?
Craig Stockmal: We offer customers a self-service model, so part of our onboarding is eight hours of training on the FocusPoint configuration module. They can continue to manage that configuration module and deploy and change it by business partners and customers to meet business requirements. And so, our whole model is self-service. It's one of the biggest benefits we offer: they don’t have to wait for somebody to configure it for them.
Carl Lewis: That's great. And a lot of eCommerce companies know their eCommerce product well, but they work with multiple ERP applications and don't know them well. But FocusPoint has Business One experts on staff, which gives you a significant advantage in terms of dealing with Business One customers. You speak the same language.
Craig Stockmal: That's critical for us when we demo for our customers. We want to speak their language and respect their choice of SAP Business One. SAP is the source of truth, and we want to show FocusPoint. Everyone in the marketplace has the same front-end features/functionalities—we need to show FocusPoint from the back end, from SAP, which they've invested in, and show them how it's a source of truth and it populates. And FocusPoint is nothing more than the customer experience for SAP Business One that they deploy to their customers.
Carl Lewis: Craig, this has been fascinating. I’ve enjoyed watching FocusPoint grow. Maybe we’ll chat again sometime. But until then, thanks for joining me today.
Craig Stockmal: Thank you so much. We're very excited about Saltbox and expanding globally as a partner with Vision33.
Carl Lewis: Thanks, Craig. And thanks to everyone else. Until we see you for another Connected Enterprise podcast, stay connected.