Commerce is no longer just a brick and mortar industry, even in a B2B world.  In 2013, B2B e-commerce revenues are expected to exceed more than $550 Billion, more than two times the revenues of B2C. 

More and more manufacturers are examining ways to create the necessary connectivity to not just grow their traditional businesses, but to take advantage of a growing opportunity that can only be achieved from a networked business. As manufacturers consider e-commerce and alternatives to building it in-house, like cloud-based B2B ecommerce, lingering concerns about data security can still cause some manufacturers to hold back, when in fact there is no reason for them not to jump in.

Cloud-based e-commerce solutions have been around since last century.  For over a decade now these systems have considered, dealt with and pioneered security solutions.  Typically e-commerce solution seekers have two areas of security concerns, the safety and security of both their data and their customer’s data and the overall security and the availability of data itself from the e-commerce solution.

Data Security

When approaching data security, typically manufacturing companies are concerned primarily with transaction data.  Payment, order, and fulfillment information must be managed with great care to not only ensure that orders are being fulfilled as expected but to protect the sensitive financial information that accompanies these transactions. Solution providers that are Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant enforce a robust set of security standards that dictate how sensitive data must be stored, transmitted and processed. Obtaining compliance can be expensive and time consuming but firms that are PCI compliant, and have tenure with PCI compliance, allow you to operate your e-commerce business with confidence.

Another concern is the separation and segregation of data. Separation and segregation of customer data is a process that occurs naturally in a cloud-based e-commerce environment.  Each customer receives a unique experience from the beginning of the process all the way until the end.  The setup and configurability of a system like this requires maintaining data integrity and customer security to perform correctly.  Find a partner with a long track record, good recommendations and they will have a flawless record of maintaining segregated customer data and of understanding the importance and potential issues with competitive information.

Data Availability

Data is worthless if it’s secure but unavailable or unreliable. Choosing an e-commerce solution provider with experience managing their own infrastructure is key to making sure that your information is reliable and always available when you need it.  Many providers outsource infrastructure responsibilities to third parties and have little to no control over downtime or system reliability. Select a partner who manages their own infrastructure and you’ll never have to worry about scalability limitations. Your customers will also appreciate that their data will never be hosted on equipment that your partner doesn’t manage.

Automation breeds efficiency

For most companies the real data threat resides with the processes and systems that they use today to process orders, create workflow and share information with their customers.  Faxes, emails and spreadsheets have a much greater risk of being deleted misplaced, miskeyed, seen by the wrong eyes or sent to the wrong individuals than a cloud based ecommerce system. Migrating your business from manual, time-consuming order processing to secure, electronic, automated rules, like the ones found in an e-commerce solution, eliminates the potential for error and gives you and your team more time to focus on growing your business instead of running it.

Beyond Security

Beyond security benefits, a cloud-based, third party managed e-commerce solution carries a host of other benefits for manufacturers including substantial reductions in the cost of sales, simplification of complex order processing and pricing schedules and the ability to adapt a solution to the unique and often times complex requirements that manufacturing often demands. For a prudent IT professional, an outsourced solution can solve data security concerns and also provide ample benefits to the bottom line with far reaching benefits to other areas of your business.

About Four51

Since 1999, Four51 has built and managed OrderCloud solutions for thousands of businesses worldwide including distributors, manufacturers, franchisors and retailers.  Solving problems for over half the Fortune 500 and millions of connected users, OrderCloud solutions are always on and always ready. OrderCloud is a commerce & connectivity solution that connects everyone and everything in your business (customers, employees, partners, systems and suppliers) together, establishing order and automating the flow of goods and content.  For more information, visit