Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) set the bar for user experience. Everyone’s talking about the Amazon experience, from retail to customer support and even to procurement.
In the age of the customer, it’s critical that large enterprises consumerize the Procure-to-Pay process. But, how can procurement teams make the transformation, without destroying user adoption and supplier participation (the crux of procurement team disappointment)?
The key is deploying a next-generation eProcurement solution.
Not sure what we mean? A next-gen eProcurement solution, regardless of suite or best-of-breed, can accommodate functionalities required to enrich the buying experience. As you start your search, below are five characteristics to look for in a cutting-edge eProcurement vendor.
5 Must-Haves in Your Next eProcurement Solution
1. Unified Shopping Experience
The biggest challenge with early versions of eProcurement solutions is user adoption, which can be blamed on a disjointed end-user experience. Users are required to jump back and forth between hosted products and third-party supplier sites via punchouts, and then back again to check out. Not to mention, to search for a product, a user needs to first know the supplier’s name. In a consumer eCommerce marketplace, users think of “what we want to buy,” not “which supplier I want to buy from.”
Next-gen eProcurement platforms say goodbye to punchouts, and hello to Amazon-style browsing. Instead of a fragmented shopping experience, all product details, search capabilities, and checkout screens are contained within a single interface. The end user can quickly find, compare, and purchase across multiple suppliers for either goods or services.
In addition, end users can easily configure complex products in real-time, such as configuring a new laptop or buying a cell phone with a voice plan, data plan, etc. Users can purchase add-on items such as a laptop case or phone car chargers all while staying within contract and within a single, unified shopping environment.
Leading eProcurement platforms mirror the buying experience of the top retail sites, such as Zappos, Amazon, Nordstrom, and thus require no training to get started. Or in the in words of Gartner, “actually makes life easier for the requisitioner.”
Many of the early eProcurement solutions spawned from an ERP Platform (and definitely an ‘ERP mindset’). As a result, early eProcurement systems are extremely rigid and customization and integration prove challenging.
To be successful with an eProcurement program, next-gen eProcurement solutions need the flexibility to:
- Integrate quickly with a variety of ERP technologies and other legacy systems.
- Seamlessly exchange data and documents with existing enterprise and supplier systems.
- Embrace existing business processes.
- Allow for customization of the buying experience.
3. Supplier Enablement
To ensure supplier participation, suppliers must be sold on the value of next-gen solutions and given solid reasons why it’s in their best interest to actively participate. This requires eliminating any barriers to entry and enhancing supplier visibility into the partnership.
To accomplish this, next-gen eProcurement solutions allow suppliers to:
- Manage their buyer relationships, including self-administering and enriching catalog content.
- Access and look up documents, including P.O.’s, receipts, and invoices.
- Gain visibility into the buying organization, including what users are interested in, how they are purchasing, and what the supplier’s products look like to the end users.
4. Mobile-First Mentality
According to TechCrunch, there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users worldwide by 2020. (And already, 50 percent of all BuyerQuest user activity is on mobile devices.) A mobile-first mindset is a must for any successful eProcurement solution provider.
Like any other consumer site, your employees should be able to purchase any goods or services whenever they want, from wherever they want.
5. Behavioral Intelligence
With insight into how users are engaging with the Procure-to-Pay solution, the procurement team can proactively adjust and refine the experience in real time.
Early eProcurement solutions (much like ERP systems) quickly become stagnant and stale after launch. Next-gen eProcurement solutions should be built in a way that allows customers to constantly evolve the shopping experience.
Behavioral intelligence allows procurement organizations to know:
- What functions are used most commonly in the application?
- What functions are causing confusion (and latency) in the procurement process?
- What versions of internet browsers are used throughout the organization?
- What divisions / business units are embracing new spend categories?
- Are users searching for goods or services that are not enabled in the eProcurement solution?
These are data points that can lead to proactive decisions with behavioral intel on the backend.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to eProcurement. Every organization has its own needs, goals, and eProcurement needs to consider. And what’s more, the market is more competitive and crowded than ever before.
When launching your search for the ideal next-gen solution, create a list of must-have features that will ultimately increase operational efficiencies and cut bottom-line costs. (Hint: You’ve already got five, right?)
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