The secret to successful electronic trading for suppliers
It’s easy to view multiple B2B systems as simply a ‘cost of doing business’. You want to be able to comply with customer requirements, and if this means implementing a new B2B solution, as long as the contract value makes it worthwhile, so be it. But, as customer requests become increasingly specific, compliance can become a costly logistical and administrative nightmare.
Each time you deploy another B2B service, you are buying into more than just a new provider. You are introducing another electronic trading process, potentially with different document types, technology standards and communications protocols. This means another solution for your company to learn and then manage and support. It also means another contract with the new service provider with different pricing structures and service levels and another B2B service provider to manage. All of this is so that your company can be viewed by your customer as providing good customer service.
Ironically, if you adopt a multi service provider strategy for your B2B systems, customer service is likely to be one of the things you simply can’t guarantee. Multiple systems mean multiple points of failure with multiple people. Having multiple Service Providers prevents you from negotiating a price based on the total volume of transactions and thus get the best price for the services you receive.
Also, connecting to new trading partners is far from straightforward. As your supply chain expands and becomes more global in nature, the implementation challenges grow in complexity. It is not just about on-boarding new partners quickly; it is also local language systems and support, the technical capabilities of your partners, and the country-specific regulations you must comply with.
Streamlining supply chain processes is a key goal of most businesses to drive productivity and business effectiveness – leading directly to better customer service. If you have a number of B2B providers, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the end-to-end supply chain visibility required. The old maxim that ‘ you can’t manage what you can’t measure’ has never been so true.
Instead, think of a different approach – there may be no need to add another EDI service or B2B portal when a new customer requires it. If you are working with one of the leading B2B providers, there is every chance that one of the B2B solutions that you are already using can meet all of your customer requirements – quickly and cost-effectively. Such providers already have the technical capabilities, existing trading partner community and global reach you need. You can simply exploit existing functionality rather than re-invent the wheel each time.
Furthermore, you can benefit from two types of economy of scale. You can negotiate a price based on the total amount of B2B transactions your business conducts. Secondly, you have access to services whose costs are spread across a large customer-base, lowering the price point.
If you establish a highly effective, flexible B2B infrastructure from the outset, it gives you a foundation for successful electronic trading today and in the future. Working with a global B2B provider like GXS, you gain access to a highly resilient network of over 40,000 trading partners in every part of the globe. You have local language solutions, local in-country support and a range of value-added services to deliver complete supply chain visibility.
It has to be well worth the greatly reduced levels of investment you’ll be making in a B2B strategy that actually will deliver excellent customer service.