Leveraging the Power of a Vendor Portal

Facing vendor management challenges frequently, businesses have started realizing that attaining success cannot be possible if communication gaps, coordination snags, information silos, compliance and management issues keep causing unintended strain in vendor relations.

Often, at the core of these challenges lie low digital maturity and a high degree of manual intervention. While a variety of digital solutions can be implemented to augment the functioning, a dedicated system is often needed to bridge the understanding gap between enterprise and their vendors.

A vendor portal is a one-stop solution for businesses to connect with their vendors and ensure that both sides can share necessary information by eliminating the scope for any confusion.

1. What is a Vendor Portal?

A safe and secure, exclusively built, private system deployed by any enterprise to manage and communicate with 3rd party firms, individuals, or entities selling goods or services to them is a vendor portal. It is an automated system to support established business processes, workflows, file exchange, and assistance at agreed-upon terms and conditions between the company and the vendor. It enables businesses to automate one-on-one communication with vendors to speed up operations, boost productivity, save costs, bring accuracy and consistency at scale.

Typically, all vendor portals are internet-based; they onboard vendors through registration and requisite checks and offer them a personalized dashboard that shows their activity. A somewhat similar interface is visible to the enterprise that manages the vendor’s account.

2. What is a Vendor Management System?

A vendor management system (VMS) can be understood as a platform or software suite that assists enterprises in managing the fundamental processes that go into managing vendors from start to finish; a VMS offers various customized capabilities and can be deployed as a managed service. It includes vendor onboarding, authorizing users, giving approvals, tracking timelines, reporting, identifying risks and mitigating them, along with interpreting vendors’ performance. It also helps execute administrative tasks such as renewing contracts, releasing payments, monitoring assets, resolving issues, fixing responsibilities, reviewing invoices, etc. From an enterprise perspective, VMS is a means to manage vendor relationships efficiently, in alignment with end-customer satisfaction, company growth, and broader business strategies.

3. What is a Supplier Portal? And What is Supplier Information Management Software?

Supplier Portal: A web-based vendor portal built exclusively for an enterprise to connect, communicate, and manage relationships with third-party suppliers such as raw material suppliers, contract manufacturers, finished product suppliers, etc., is a supplier portal. Suppliers are often crucial to the smooth functioning of an enterprise. What a supplier portal does is that it provides a safe, customized, organized system that aids businesses to work with a variety of suppliers to simplify and streamline procurement in an online environment. In other words, a supplier portal is a single point of contact between suppliers and the enterprise for near real-time communication and updates by setting standards and procedures for effortless dealing.

Supplier Information Management Software: A supplier information management software replaces manual processes and eases the retrieval, supervision, and management of supplier information to maximize the engagement with suppliers. It improves the data quality, coordination, and compliance across the enterprise supplier base while ensuring minimal risk and enhanced efficiency. Therefore, supplier management software offers a customized, end-to-end solution in a single place by allowing enterprises to communicate, associate (from start to finish), track progress, and manage the lifecycle of their suppliers while facilitating a high-level of flexibility, collaboration, and transparency.

4. Why Do you need a Vendor Portal?

Manual ways to connect and collaborate with vendors can be inefficient and cumbersome, resulting in disagreements and mismanagement and put enormous strain on the resources of both vendors and enterprises. For example, communication through emails and spreadsheets can look like a simple activity to manage a handful of vendors, but when it comes to dealing with many vendors, that too operating from global locations, handling orders via emails can become an insurmountable challenge. Here are a few challenges that a vendor portal software can tackle effectively:

  • Lack of a unified interface to connect with vendors
  • Absence of a secure and compliant system
  • Low visibility into transactions
  • Lack of transparency in purchase requisition authorization process
  • Inadequate means to manage relationships with vendor
  • Invoices, payments records, billing information, contracts, and procurement data present in disparate systems
  • Challenges in integration with other enterprise tools
  • Difficulties in pulling data together for audit trails
  • No clarity about vendor performance

5. Main Features of a Vendor Portal

A vendor portal provides a solution for all your vendor management needs, including maintaining purchase history, stocks, usage, pricing, and re-ordering. Few key features of a vendor portal are:

Automated Onboarding:

Vendor portals eliminate the manual onboarding process, replacing it with automated onboarding in the least possible time. It includes vendor’s data submission and authentication.

Tracking Vendor Performance:

One of the most important aims of a vendor portal is to track vendors’ performance on parameters like quality of deliveries, adherence to timelines, compliance, and sticking to agreed policies.

Purchase Order (PO) Creation & Tracking:

POs are prepared for instant ordering or purchase contracts for future use. By automating the process, vendors can leverage volume-based concessions for the goods and services they deliver over a period of time.

Product Information Management:

A vendor portal handles information of the products belonging to different vendors and sometimes multiple products belonging to the same vendors. It centralizes, enriches, and harmonizes all the product information.

Self-service:

Offers vendors the flexibility to update and manage various details and information about their products or service while giving them the ability to trigger notifications and alerts on the ordering process and payments.

Item Management:

A vendor portal allows businesses to track and manage the number and variety of items received, kept, or returned from every vendor, including purchase history, usage in the location, units in stock, units to be received, etc.

Easing Supplier Communication:

A vendor portal offers a single system to communicate through a secure space and make the most up-to-the-minute information exchanges, including flagging a glitch or delay, sending notifications and requests.

Documentation Management:

Portals take care of all the documentation regarding the obligations, policies, duration of the contract, timelines, expectations, legal issues, NDAs, support processes, invoicing, pricing decisions, contract renewals, transportation, etc.

Audit and Performance Checks:

Every aspect of the association with vendors can be audited to review their performance. This includes running checks on key performance metrics like timely deliveries, product or service quality, etc.

Supports Global Communication:

Vendor portals support the communication needs of various geographies, languages, and regulatory requirements of multiple regions. In addition, they offer enough flexibility to vendors so they can operate efficiently.

 

6. Main Benefits of a Vendor Portal

Better Visibility and Communication:

A vendor portal brings complete transparency into the interactions, tasks, services, and procurement between vendors and enterprises, by ensuring proper monitoring and reporting via a single system. It upholds proactive communication. It reduces the chain of people in the middle and facilitates direct interaction between product category managers and suppliers. Also, messages can be broadcasted 24/7 to one or multiple vendors depending on the input, making communication happen in real-time, and accessible through any device.

Standardized Processes:

By standardizing processes, portals can optimize various actions such as onboarding, updating documentation, data capturing, especially during the initial stages of association with vendors. On a broader level, standardization can streamline workflows, priorities, task delegation, flagging concerns, and activity completion while assessing risks, creating clear ownerships, and escalating issues. This can be simultaneously done for different vendors through organized enterprise-level controls needed for systematic functioning and high efficiency.

Flexibility and Scalability:

The vendors and the enterprise get complete flexibility to initiate requests take processes forward in their preferred way, including comfortably carrying out activities in their time zones or work hours, creating alerts, managing risks, defining limits and alarms, and using their resources accordingly. A portal also offers high scalability in terms of the number of vendors or the amount of information to be managed. In addition, various functionalities and transaction-based activities can be included and customized to suit enterprise needs and plans.

Improved Relationships with Vendors:

Quick response to requests, easy dispute resolution, high level of efficiency, transparency in transactions, smooth functioning, and collaboration makes an overall positive impact on the association between enterprises and vendors, resulting in long-term partnerships, upscaling of business relations, and even leveraging of each other’s network. In addition, good partnerships have a trickle-down effect on customer experiences and growth, allowing businesses to concentrate on other important aspects of strategic significance.

Excellent Return on Investment (ROI):

A vendor portal can prove to be a great facilitator of ROI due to the productivity gains it offers. It streamlines back-end processes, cuts down administration expenses, achieves cost efficiency by automating labor-intensive tasks. Introducing a single system that directly connects enterprises with vendors reduces the number of resources needed to build coordination networks with vendors. As a result, the portal handles many in-house tasks, and your resources can work towards creating more revenue generation opportunities.

 

7. How a PIM Platform plays an important role in a Vendor Portal?

Superior product information management (PIM) is key to the existence of vendor portals. When it comes to dealing with a range of vendors supplying multiple products and operating from a variety of locations, enterprises may need to make a great effort in keeping up with the accuracy and consistency of product information. Here’s how PIM helps:

  • PIM systems facilitate the consolidation, enrichment, and streamlining of vendors’ product data. For instance, when a product supplier needs to enter product updates of a new product, they can do it themselves by simply entering the details into the portal. This is a massive departure from emailing the spreadsheets to company executives, who then enter them into the company system (increasing the chances of discrepancies).
  • PIM helps in the creation of a customized portal having the capability of importing, exporting, and editing product data in a single, centralized location. Within the portal, various content blocks having specific functions can be created, giving complete control to the vendor. 
  • PIM not only upholds the correctness and completeness of product information but of digital assets as well. For example, vendors can upload CSV files into the portal, and the enterprise can view the product lists and details, add them to the cart, and send a request for quotation to suppliers for the products they need. 
  • While Vendors get a user-friendly dashboard that tells them all about their current position in real-time; for enterprises, a PIM based vendor portal can syndicate reliable and up-to-the-minute supplier data across enterprise locations and divisions, thereby maximizing productivity. 
  • A PIM-powered vendor portal can be integrated into any IT landscape. PIM also magnifies the efficiency of workflows and campaigns carried out by enterprises through quick collaboration and issue resolution. For instance, attractive offers can be communicated to the vendors via vendor portals. 

Read more about Pimcore PIM Platform

8. Use Case—Where Pimcore PIM helped in the creation of a Vendor Portal

Pimcore PIM helped a global food and beverage leader with:

B2B commerce portal for distributors in three major global regions

The brand’s vendors (product distributors in this case) were ordering products through excel templates, which was an inflexible, labor-intensive, error-prone, and time-consuming process. As a result, distributors could not avail the offers put forth by the brand most of the times. Conversely, the brand also missed out on cross-selling and up-selling opportunities with the vendors. Pimcore created a B2B e-commerce portal using PIM to highlight product visibility in every region, streamline the ordering process, and enable mobile ordering. An API-based integration was carried out for predictive suggestions and in-context offers for distributors. One of the biggest impacts was ‘efficiency,’ as thousands of distributors could place instant orders. Also, distributors got a seamless customer experience while ordering. Quite naturally, it surged brand sales to the tune of USD100 million. The portal was initially created for the China region and was later replicated on Latin America (LATAM) followed by Australia.

Distributors in the LATAM and Australian region got real-time fulfillment, a high degree of personalization, flexibility, and customer-level discounts.

Created a multi-country B2C e-commerce portal

The brand had no way of reaching the end customer through digital means, which was hurting their profitability. No engaging experience or rewards could be passed on to the end-customer, as the business only happened in a traditional way through B2B distributors.

This meant that the brand had no means of passing on any benefits to the end-customers too. Pimcore built a B2C e-commerce portal with region-specific product visibility and implemented a business strategy to sell products to end customers through the brand’s digital platform. The platform suggested seasonal and festive offers to end-customers along with discounts on different kinds of snacks. The impact of the implementation was a massive increase in the brand’s business, where thousands of customers could engage and place instant orders.

This increased their sales during the holiday season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New year, etc.) and saw a steady surge in customer engagement throughout the year. The end-customers experienced excellent product experiences and intuitive buying while finding their desired products quickly.

If you need a hand modernizing your vendor management capabilities—Pimcore PIM can help you create the most sophisticated vendor portals tailored to your needs.

We understand that your vendors are significant stakeholders in your business journey and only the best collaboration with them can help you succeed.

So, if you’re thinking of giving your vendor relationships a facelift— Pimcore PIM can make it happen for you!

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