On Wednesday, March 28th, procurement professionals participated in the interactive, online seminar, “Applying B2C Strategies to Corporate Procurement”.
(If you were unable to attend the live event, don’t worry, it was recorded.)
The session, Moderated by Doug Blossey, SVP of BuyerQuest, highlighted the changing dynamics of procure-to-pay and the need for procurement organizations to re-think the way they execute and measure procurement.
The market has evolved -- It all starts with Search
Doug shared the history of Procure-to-Pay (P2P) technology as it evolved from 1st generation products focused on workflow and catalog enablement, discussing the move from CIF files to punchout and ultimately cloud-based technology.
Doug noted that while P2P was evolving to address procurement-focused needs, the B2C marketplace was continuing to develop technologies that engaged the user with an improved experience. Modern B2C platforms rely heavily on search to simplify the buying experience. Doug discussed the three main requirements to make search work:
- Rich Content
- Contextual Search
- Scalable cloud
Doug finished his discussion noting that P2P solutions that rely on punchout prohibit users from participating in a B2C experience, and likely will lead to more off-contract spend.
Practical Applications of a B2C Strategy
Gena Pascarelli, Manager - Procure-to-Pay Business Process at The Walt Disney Company shared her real-world experiences with the application of B2C strategies in a complex business.
Gena discussed the complex environment at Disney, with theme parks, media, studio and corporate each having different purchasing needs and timelines. She shared the example that, at a theme park, "You don't want to run out of turkey legs" -- products are needed quickly to serve thousands of guests per day. By contrast, the media group is often away, on-location, and needs a flexible procurement experience.
End users are purchasing supplies across many different channels from a variety of vendors. With this level of complex buying, the goal is to simplify the channel strategy and deliver the right tools that create a B2C experience.
Gena highlighted the diversity of the end-users that participate in purchasing. Some have years of experience with legacy systems, while others are quick to embrace new technologies. For most, purchasing is just a small part of their overall responsibility, and they expect a B2C style experience at the office. The procurement team knows that if they can make purchasing easy, it makes it easy to deliver on procurement's corporate objectives.
Gena explained that while purchasing is decentralized, the business processes are corporate functions with shared technology and processes. She shared some of the strategies currently being employed to better manage P-cards, uncover buying trends, like shared vendors, as well as enriching existing content and moving away from punchouts, to the benefit of both procurement and their suppliers.
The Role of Technology
Kyle Muskoff, VP - Product & Professional Services at BuyerQuest was the final speaker and went into further detail on the key components needed for a successful B2C technology.
Rich Content: The B2B platform needs to mimic B2C ecommerce in areas such as full product names, 10 - 100s of attributes, images, videos, 360 images, ratings and reviews warranties, user guides, extended information (PDF) and more. Kyle noted that if a user cannot get these details in the marketplace, they will look for it elsewhere, and likely will purchase off-contract.
Contextual Search: Kyle discussed how critical the right info at the right time, and in the right context is to a casual buyer making a purchase.
Scalable Cloud: Without the right number of available SKUs, users will not find what they are looking for, and purchase off contract. Kyle noted that the days of CIF files are over, and suppliers need to see marketplaces as the next channel they support as part of their omni-channel experience.
In the end, Kyle noted that applying a B2C experience to B2B purchasing offers a win-win-win for users, suppliers, and procurement.
Procurement is changing, and company's that adapt will have a competitive advantage. I encourage you to take the time to listen to this informative and engaging event.