The key to building relationships with vendors that are mutually beneficial, strong, and durable is being able to provide them with an experience that is always efficient and personalised. Vendor performance is likely to improve considerably with effective collaboration and communication, as is the maintenance of third-party compliances and the realisation of agreed upon and contracted benefits.
Portal solutions are crucial for vendor management today, with companies still solely reliant on email for communication being far less likely to be able to cope well with the scaling and onboarding of increasing numbers of vendors.
With the combined online sales figures for B2B ecommerce sites, marketplaces, and log in portals increasing by 18% year on year, according to last year’s B2B Ecommerce Market Report, the importance and relevance of vendor portals to B2B companies only continues to grow.
Benefits of Vendor Portals
Vendor portals help to streamline transactions through the automation of processes and the subsequent reduction in the amount of administrative tasks required to be performed by employees. Let’s take a closer look at some of the other key benefits.
1. Improves Visibility and Turnaround
Visibility into the business department of a company can be difficult without automation and in some situations, there might not be any visibility until the receipt, opening, and manual entering of an invoice into the system.
However, the use of vendor portals can change this and provide complete visibility from the moment the invoice is submitted through to receipt, approval, status, and finally payment. Portal solutions can also help with the onboarding of new vendors and ensure their information is regularly updated, thus offering complete visibility at all necessary levels throughout an entire organisation.
2. Provides Self-Service Options
Vendor portals are essentially self-service solutions that allow suppliers to log in and view their orders, view real-time statuses, submit their invoices, and perform other necessary tasks completely autonomously.
A self-service vendor portal also offers timely responses to any questions vendors may have in a much less costly manner than is the case with manual customer service. In addition, this can contribute to a significant reduction in the number of emails, faxes, and phone calls relating to the receipt of invoices and the status of payments that would otherwise have to be dealt with by staff members. This frees up their time allowing them to focus on higher priority tasks.
3. Allows Direct Information Updates
These portals also allow buyers to directly update their own information, such as contact details, which means that it is no longer necessary to have to get in touch with suppliers on their behalf in order to update that data. This is another crucial feature that contributes to more streamlined processes, reducing the administrative workload that would otherwise be required without a vendor portal.
4. Improves Reliability With Automatic Notifications
A portal can also be used to set up automatic notifications for specific key dates such as code of conduct collections and certificate expirations, meaning that important dates will now no longer be missed. This reduces the reliance on staff to recall and keep track of dates, while ensuring all relevant stakeholders are informed at the right time to ensure processes aren’t delayed.
The notification process in portal solutions can also be used as a way to communicate with vendors, providing a method of broadcasting messages to one or multiple vendors depending on the selection criteria input.
5. Helps to Standardise Processes
The ability of B2B companies to track its vendors and collate consistent data can be significantly enhanced with standardised processes and vendor portals can help to optimise this process.
A portal can assist with vendor onboarding, invitations, updates to documentation, and performance reviews, ensuring that a consistent approach to tasks like data capture is taken to a number of different vendor relationships.
There are some processes that companies take for granted that can actually result in bottlenecks during the early stages of a relationship with a new vendor. While this typically causes workflows to take much longer than they should, portal solutions can help companies identify and remove these bottlenecks, making the whole process flow much more quickly and efficiently.
Standardised processes mean that a B2B team can act in advance and take action when they need to before problems arise because portals provide an increased ability to monitor and track progress and performance.
6. Enhances Document Sharing and Access to Information
Vendor portals can also assist B2B companies with document sharing, which again increases efficiency in regards to communication and in comparison to the time that is taken up with emails.
In addition, vendors and buyers have access to important information via a central repository, which makes management much simpler as businesses begin to scale and the complexity of their vendor bases grows. Having easy access to key information also makes it easier for companies to make more accurate and informed decisions about their vendors.
Buyers and vendors also get to have a shared view of their common data which allows for increased collaboration and can be of great assistance in issues such as dispute resolution or when corrective actions need to be taken by either or both parties.
For B2B companies, these portal solutions also allow them to make direct requests for information from vendors and receive and store that information in a secure manner. As a result, confidential information such as the reviewing of contracts and the management of renewals can all be handled directly and securely within portals.
Are You Facing These Bottlenecks With Vendors?
The communication and collaboration with vendors via email or other unstructured channels of communication may work as a temporary solution for the short term, but when a business scales and its vendor base expands, it is a method that will inevitably end up being insufficient. The storing of actions, documents, and messages in an email inbox can result in fragmentation that will only be further exacerbated by an absence of standardised processes.
Successful long term relationship building with vendors that allows businesses to make the most of those agreements and collaborations requires a seamless experience for vendors through all stages of their life cycle.
The use of a portal like the Liferay DXP gives vendors a more personalised experience while also ensuring businesses remain in full control of their data, onboarding, performance, and registration.