What is the secret to B2B ecommerce success?
A robust commerce solution? Definitely. But there’s also another element that large retailers might be missing: a supplier portal.
What is a Supplier Portal?
A supplier portal is an integrated solution that allows businesses to communicate with their suppliers.
Imagine if suppliers had a unified hub where they could onboard through self-service, submit invoices, download important assets and resources, request approvals for qualifications or orders, or upload documents for regulatory purposes.
Where procurement once was grueling and time-consuming, a supplier portal not only helps suppliers save time, but also empowers them with more resources in a single location. Delivering better supplier experiences ultimately will help to deepen long-term relations.
Why are Supplier Portals (Especially) Important?
Dealing with disrupted supply chains in the face of COVID-19 has really highlighted the need for visibility, communication, and efficiency across the entire journey. Supplier portals are one way businesses can help alleviate some of these challenges.
So how can businesses begin to build a supplier portal that is not only useful to suppliers but also beneficial to their own business?
5 Essential Elements of a Successful Supplier Portal
While each business will have unique needs for their suppliers, generally there are a few basic features all supplier portals should implement:
- Personalized Dashboards
A primary way business can help to increase supplier productivity is through tailored dashboards.
Different categories of suppliers and individual users need to access information unique to their product types, user type or vendor status. A supplier portal should be able to support dashboards that make it easy for users to find and view the information and processes they need to perform their job. For instance, someone in a supplier's accounting department will need a much different view that someone in the sales or logistics team.
- Robust Content Management
Businesses will need to be able to manage quite a range of different content types, whether spreadsheets, PDFs, images, videos, Word docs, forms, government and health certifications, shipping documents, etc. And an enterprise level search capability is essential to helping users quickly find the information they need.
- Automated Workflows
Further optimize routine processes, like uploading data or requesting approvals, with automated workflows. For instance, it may be necessary for contracts to be reviewed, amended, and approved by several departments and individuals. This type of process can be automated to make it faster to complete and easier to track and audit.
- Self-Service Functionality
Another tactic to increase supplier productivity and satisfaction is through self-service. By empowering suppliers to do more on their own, they will be able to perform their jobs quicker and with more ease.
Imagine if suppliers could just access a knowledge base for important FAQs or be able to submit order requests without needing to contact a sales representative.
Giving suppliers more control of their own tasks helps improve the overall experience, opening the path for future orders and long-term loyalty.
- Extensive Integration Capabilities
Probably one of the most important criteria for a supplier portal to work properly is its ability to integrate and work with other systems.
Digital portals, especially if they include eCommerce functionality, typically need to be connected to other systems, including ERPs, CRMs, PIM/MDMs, and procurement solutions just to name a few.
A robust supplier portal should also include both “front-end” and “back-end” APIs in order to deliver the best user experience.
Read about more features a supplier portal should have in this article.