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Implementing a supplier management portal for faster product listing… and much more!

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Supplier portal

Product listing: a major issue for retailers

With increasing numbers of product ranges, listing has become a sensitive area in communication between a business and its suppliers.

But ever-changing product lines are not the only factor making the product listing process vital:

  • The variety of standards and formats used by suppliers makes collecting and harmonising data more complicated
  • The frequent additions and removals of suppliers are not always handled in real time, which slows down listing
  • The demands of end customers and markets as regards product quality and information means full, error-free data entry is a must, as is the ability to use the data and generate value from it
  • Product data is often scattered all over a company’s information system.

Product data is extremely varied with procurement (gross purchase price, discounts, guarantees, etc.), logistics (country of origin, dimensions, number of products per container, etc.), and technical characteristics (certifications, expiry dates, product sensitivity, etc.) to name but three areas, there are thousands of product attributes that must be entered and kept up-to-date as suppliers are added or changed.

The difficulty is all the greater when products are not listed by a structured tool (e.g. sent by email, Excel spreadsheets, etc.). The listing of product lines accordingly requires a great deal of time-consuming data entry and corrections, which are a source of errors and data loss.

Smooth data interchanges and in-house efficiency depend on correct listings of suppliers and products. At the end of the chain, it is the customer experience that suffers, so product data quality and the ability to leverage it must be optimal.

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The supplier portal, a key to control over product information

Having a supplier management portal (SMP) means setting up a central point of contact with a common framework for product information that is provided by partners. Such a platform facilitates both the provision of data by suppliers and the use of data by buyers:

Supplier

  • Attributes following a structured format and data definition: categories, sub-categories, items, item properties, etc.
  • Pre-listing, listing and de-listing of suppliers at the right time: data interchange is under proper control and suppliers can bid on invitations to tender
  • The provision of statistics to improve performance and anticipate requirements

Buyer

  • Data is available immediately in the right format and can be sent to buyers’ own business systems (ERP, product master data, etc.)
  • Platform integrated within the IS for automated, managed data streams
  • Data is entered directly by the supplier, thus saving time, in a single format and with fewer errors
  • Secure access to the platform for suppliers and buyers

This issue of data entry by suppliers is the foundation of product listing. But the usefulness of the supplier portal should, in our view, extend beyond merely outsourcing standardised data entry. To improve data quality and usability over the long term, the supplier portal must support:

Data distribution within the IS

The availability of data on the platform and distribution around the entire IS facilitates the work of various business areas.

The data circulated is provided in the right format directly from the platform. Data can be sent immediately to ERP and the product master data repository. The standardised input format makes further processing of often complex data easier.

Automated workflows

The incorporation of workflows within the platform accelerates interchanges, and pre-listing, tender procedures and de-listing can consequently be automated (data quality assurance, warnings emailed to add missing data, automatic updates to suppliers shortlisted for a tender, etc.).

Supervision of relationships with suppliers

The portal gives suppliers a dedicated space with a secure connection, which can also offer statistics, services via APIs, and be a source of information customised to their needs. These services provided by the platform foster continuous improvement, build stronger relationships and encourage greater cooperation.

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A comprehensive view of the supplier relationship with Blueway

The BPM, MDM and ESB components developed by Blueway are combined to rise to all these challenges and extend beyond the scope of an ordinary supplier portal. We in fact provide a complete solution for supplier relationship management, offering a well-designed supplier portal providing a regular structure, distributing product information to the entire IS, establishing a single product view, as well as managing data exchange through the following processes:

  • BPM: process digitalisation makes bespoke workflow modelling possible and the introduction of standardised product listing procedures feasible: no step is overlooked and the data required for product listings is complete and reliable.
  • MDM: collecting data in a single platform facilitates both enrichment and subsequent redistribution. MDM provides data for example to PIM and DAM, offering comprehensive management of data and media, and distribution to various functional departments.
  • ESB: The application bus provides the necessary cohesion between in-house systems and the supplier portal, and by simplifying and orchestrating data exchanges between applications, product data is available and accessible to the business at all times.

The combination of these three aspects offers a full picture of the supplier relationship, which is not restricted to listings alone. Quality, security and efficient data transmission are also central requirements, adding to the benefits of the supplier portal.

The result is seamless cooperation with suppliers, and therefore a single view of product information, easy to distribute around the IS, which will improve both the trust between buyers and suppliers, and the leveraging of that data by end users.

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Auteur
Thomas Rivière
Sales Director. Since the start of his career, Thomas has been advising and supporting companies in their digital transformation. Thanks to Blueway’s global offering including ESB, BPM, MDM and API Management, he is able to identify precise needs and refine his proposal to customers to bring them maximum value.
Dans la catégorie Business Process Management (BPM), Process Digitalisation