eProcurement & Procure-to-Pay Resources

10 Best Practices for Strong Supplier Enablement

Published March 22, 2016 at 1:00 PM

There’s no denying your procurement engine will quit without a well-oiled supplier machine. To keep operations running smoothly, it’s crucial to keep suppliers happy and cost-effective.

However, most organizations don’t have a formal strategy in place for supplier enablement. Our customers often ask us: What's the best strategy for enabling suppliers? How do we get started? What are the right steps?

At BuyerQuest, our goal is to help organizations build stronger, more profitable relationships with suppliers. The key is to deploy a solution that empowers suppliers. From there, your organization can follow a simple set of best practices to nurture relationships and ensure suppliers are embracing your eProcurement or Procure-to-Pay (P2P) solution.   

Below, we’ve highlighted 10 best practices to start building your supplier enablement strategy today.

How to Enable Suppliers Successfully: 10 Tips

1. Always over communicate

Whether you’re switching to a new P2P solution or simply flagging product updates, inform your suppliers as early as possible. Clearly explain what is changing and what is staying the same. For an extra incentive, point out the value proposition for participation and offer regular updates throughout the project.

2. Education is key

Provide an online documentation portal for suppliers to house all the information. We know from experience that suppliers appreciate the convenience and accessibility of all documentation housed in one, easy-to-use place. BuyerQuest’s supplier documentation portal includes step-by-step guides, downloadable catalog templates, purchase order and invoice specifications, useful examples, tons of best practices, searchable FAQs, etc.

3. Migrate Punchouts when possible

Punchouts create a disjointed, complex experience—for both suppliers and shoppers alike. BuyerQuest’s advanced catalog capabilities eliminate (or at minimum, reduce) the need to Punchout to supplier sites. Analyze your Punchout websites for any unique functionality and consider how BuyerQuest can provide similar (or often even better) functionality.

Related read >> An Inside Look at BuyerQuest: 5 Standout Features

4. Quality is better than quantity

Encourage suppliers to provide the richest catalog content possible, including: 

  • At least one item image 
  • Descriptive item names 
  • Elaborative medium and long descriptions 
  • Any supporting documents 
  • Valuable product attributes 
  • Related items and configurable items

Bottom line: don’t allow suppliers to clog up your new, beautiful marketplace with bad content! The better content the supplier provides, the better the user experience.

5. Build in a buffer

Make sure to build in a buffer in your project plan. You’ll want to ensure catalogs are developed well in advance of your target go live date.

6. Enable services as well

Don’t forget to prioritize service categories. Fun fact: BuyerQuest provides more options for enabling services than any other solution. The marketplace features guided buying, category specific non-catalog forms, configurable items with products and services, related services, bundles/kits, and more.

7. Thorough testing is crucial

Have a well defined test plan and ensure all suppliers pass all tests.

8. Let your suppliers in

Suppliers find it very empowering when they can see how their catalogs appear to their customers. In BuyerQuest, suppliers are given unlimited access to the site so they can see exactly what their customers can see, including the category tree, how their items are returned in search results, and any gaps in catalog content.

9. Implement gamification

A new concept we’re playing with (pun intended) is to gamify the supplier enablement effort. This might include providing rewards for suppliers with the richest content, suppliers that provide their content the earliest, best use of advanced catalog features, and so on. Make it fun!

10. Simplify the process

Make it as easy as possible for suppliers to do what they need to do. Allow them to upload catalogs online, upload via sFTP, use simple CSV catalog templates and always adhere to industry standards.

Your supplier portfolio has exponential impact on bottom line procurement spend. Ensure you’ve strategically chosen your supplier base, and continue to build mutually beneficial relationships.

Curious to learn more about how BuyerQuest and Suppliers work together? Watch this short video from our CEO about BuyerQuest and Supplier Success:  

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