B2B Payments

Employees Driving Next Phase Of Real-Time Procurement

Consumer shopping behavior gave rise to eCommerce, and, in turn, led corporate buying behavior to follow suit with the rise of eProcurement. Now, says a new white paper from Aquiire, businesses are again taking a page from consumers’ books on accelerating the speed of processes, from accessing information to making a purchase, with expectations for “in the now” extending into the workplace.

“Employees’ increased expectations for getting things fast and accurate is outpacing the traditional ways of doing business,” Aquiire said in its paper, The Top Ten Ways Real-Time eProcurement Matters. “Internal procurement is a highly visible area where this shortfall occurs regularly.”

Professionals need accelerated procurement offerings to make purchases for their businesses in the same, fast way they do so in their personal lives, the report found. But traditional indirect procurement is far from conducive to making this happen, Aquiire said. That’s because this process requires consolidation of the supplier base, discount negotiations, the implementation of an automated eProcurement platform and the effort to ensure employees are actually using the right suppliers and taking advantage of negotiated rates.

This is a far cry from how employees shop as consumers, the report explained.

“With traditional eProcurement solutions, this is usually a frustrating and time-consuming process which often drives users to purchase from third-party sites,” the paper said, adding that analysts estimate up to 18 percent of savings are lost on this rogue spend. As much as a third of all of the products procured by an employee are done so outside of procurement platforms, meaning a diminished ability for managers to ensure professionals are using the proper suppliers.

Providing these employees with a real-time solution can help a company bring professionals a more consumer-like procurement experience, Aquiire said, which in turn promotes on-contract, compliant purchasing.

But a real-time experience can come in many ways, the company said. There are 10 key ways employers can deploy a real-time experience to the procurement function, and PYMNTS breaks them down:

Real-Time Product Search

This includes updated product and pricing information and a single portal through which buyers can access supplier offerings, instead of having to go to multiple supplier websites. All product and pricing information is consolidated for more efficient comparisons.

Real-Time Prices

Faster product search is only effective if the information about those products is updated. Perhaps most important is the price of these products. In traditional eProcurement solutions, Aquiire said, some suppliers are able to provide partial product information for side-by-side comparisons, but that typically doesn’t include the price until a buyer accesses each supplier website. Shoppers need a single portal where they can view updated product pricing, just as platforms like Kayak and Amazon offer – which also entices professionals to ditch procurement portals for these websites when procuring for their companies, the report said.

Automated Information Organization

Similarly, real-time product and pricing searches are only effective if the information shoppers have is organized and displayed in a user-friendly fashion.

Real-Time Guided Buying

According to Aquiire, supplier websites use behavioral science and marketing to up-sell their products. A real-time guided buying solution means executives can decide how they want products to be displayed – for instance, with preferred suppliers’ products at the top, or blocking specific categories.

Agility During Change Management

With new talent coming on board, procurement processes can get disrupted; Aquiire noted that an agile eProcurement system that automates reporting and analytics, and maintains controls and compliance, even through a change in management, is key to reducing disruption. Solutions must automatically integrate any changes in purchasing procedures to ensure employees can buy without hesitancy.

Deal Sourcing

Consumers can easily find better deals on products through a quick web search. Real-time capabilities can hand procurement the same abilities, Aquiire said, and provide real-time presentation of contracted and alternative supplier pricing.

Instant Validation Of Pricing And Products

To ensure that purchases are made with the agreed-upon prices, procurement systems must ensure those negotiations are reflected at time of purchase. That means automated auditing to ensure supplier prices haven’t creeped up, and real-time purchase data to more easily identify off-contract pricing.

Real-Time Price Negotiation

Real-time data is key to negotiating a better price from suppliers, Aquiire said, and adds to a trove of historical data to help procurement professionals understand pricing trends and how historical prices compare to pricing at the time of the latest purchase

Supplier Management

Real-time capabilities are good for suppliers, too, Aquiire noted, with buyers having easier access to supplier catalogs and an easier way to keep pricing and product information up to date.

Purchase Order Automation

Consumers wouldn’t take the time to fill out a purchase order when making a purchase online, so professionals don’t want to do this either. Automating the generation of a PO means a reduction in time and costs wasted.

“We live in a fast-paced, consumer-driven world that increasingly demands immediate information and results, and we are dedicated to helping procurement leaders rethink and improve their traditional indirect eProcurement business models,” said Aquiire VP of Marketing and Alliances Kevin Smith in a statement. “Advanced real-time functionality and competitive comparison shopping in B2B eCommerce are essential to drive user satisfaction and compliance, as well as fully deliver the hidden savings opportunities on indirect spend.”

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