Focus on Suppliers to Forge New Business Models During Times of Need

Organisations have always been looking for ways to expand their market share and improve their revenue. Customer centricity is a proven method that provides a positive customer experience both before and after the sale in order to drive repeat business, improve customer loyalty and drive business growth.

The organisations that are the most successful are able to put themselves in the shoes of their customers and react to changing consumer preferences, habits, and feelings regardless of what the organisation believes is the best route or the most profitable.

The organisations with their fingers on the pulse of the customers are the ones who survive and stand the test of time.

Look back to Amazon.com from the late nineties. They originally started as an online bookstore and listened to the needs of their customers, evolving into the online superstore we know today. Blockbuster, on the other hand, failed to understand evolving consumer trends and habits, causing them to suffer a slow and painful demise at the hands of Netflix, even before Netflix had started streaming video.

They quickly discovered that customers were looking for something faster, simpler, and more personalised, so Netflix used this information to pivot and create a new business model.

According to recent studies, 69% of buyers are willing to pay more for a personalised experience. Businesses have caught on to this and have started to change the ways they operate to make everything as efficient and easy as possible for the end consumers.

How did Amazon make the shift from selling books, to delivering thousands of categories directly to the consumer, with just two-day shipping? How did Netflix make the shift from mailing DVDs, to providing a full-service streaming platform?

It was through making stronger relationships with their suppliers and doing business more efficiently. With slow & error-prone paper-based transactions, these companies would have not been able to provide the seamless experience that we all expect today. Often, suppliers are stuck dealing with phone calls, paper transactions, and e-mail black holes that can slow down business and have a bullwhip effect back to the end consumer.

When consumers can’t get what they need quickly and easily, they can turn to competitors. According to research from Cisco, consumers would not care if 74% of the brands they use vanished. It’s never been quicker and easier for a consumer to switch brands.

How can organisations be expected to keep innovating to provide a seamless, personalised, and convenient customer experience?

Look no further than suppliers. Suppliers are often overlooked as key business partners who can help facilitate innovation for the end consumers. Suppliers are the backbone to any organisation on the planet. Without the supplier to provide raw materials, deliveries, hosting, or services, companies would not be able to provide a seamless customer experience.

Unfortunately, suppliers are still dealing with paper in the year 2020. Global paper use has increased by 400% in the last 40 years. 1 in 3 invoices contains an error. These two factors combined are causing the cost of doing business to steadily increase as the supplier waits for the errors to be corrected before finally receiving their payment. Suppliers deserve a better experience. Their main focus is to increase sales, fulfil orders efficiently, and get paid predictably.

That’s where the SAP Digital Supplier Network comes in. It extends an organisation’s ERP system beyond their four walls and gives suppliers a digital seat at the table. It gives suppliers a single place to maintain their profile, insurances, and bank details, and provides suppliers a single place to respond to leads and negotiate contracts with their customers.

It gives suppliers a choice of how they want to transact with their customers, whether it’s through their mobile device, online portal, or system-to-system integration where sales orders land directly into their order fulfilment system.

These transactions are monitored for any errors, and the errors are highlighted to the suppliers so they can fix them immediately, so they are not sending invoices with errors. This reduces the amount of time it takes to do business for both the supplier and the buyer, and helps the supplier get paid when they expect to.

The year is 2020. It’s about time we completely eliminate paper from the business world, one transaction at a time. Let’s innovate to give suppliers the experience they deserve so they can collaborate to deliver new business models and seamlessly personalised experiences to consumers.

This article originally featured on Linkedin.