Add to cart: Digital Procurement for B2B is the New Normal

Digital procurement for B2B is the new normal and how it will make life easier for CPOs in the future.

Digital procurement for B2B is on the cusp of a significant transformation. Supply chain disruptions through the pandemic are causing CPOs to look at B2B procurement in a new light. While the KRAs of quality, cost, and delivery continue to be relevant, there is an increasing demand for spend analysis, transparency, data, supplier reliability, and risk management. In the near future enterprises will get a more personalized customer experience similar to what individuals get from B2C e-commerce. 

What is Digital Procurement for B2B?

Digital procurement for B2B migrates enterprises from ad-hoc and offline buying to a digitized source-to-pay platform.  It replicates the customer experience of a B2C e-commerce marketplace. 

Like a B2C e-commerce marketplace, a B2B online marketplace offers a catalog of line items spread across product categories. Users can browse through the catalog to compare suppliers, brands, and products. They can compare costs, volume discounts, expected time of arrival (ETA), and inventory availability to place orders.

However, B2B e-commerce offers several advantages, and therefore enterprises have been drawn to it for a long time now.

Reasons for Adopting Digital Procurement Before the Pandemic

The following reasons had been driving enterprises’ adoption of digital procurement before the pandemic:

  • Faster Delivery: Agility is a significant challenge in enterprise procurement. B2B online marketplaces offer quicker and cheaper delivery than their offline counterparts and are an enabler of value. 
  • Cost Control and Compliance: Cost efficiency is a critical KPI for procurement teams. B2B e-commerce platforms enable inter-supplier comparisons and thus augment ease of spending control and compliance. 
  • Scale: In manufacturing, order sizes surpass the scope of a piece-meal approach and is critical to procurement officers. B2B marketplaces can fulfill large scale industrial purchase orders.
  • Quality: The quality of industrial supplies determines the quality of industrial output. B2B marketplaces deploy internal quality control procedures that foster trust creation for enterprises. 

Reasons for Upswing in Digital Procurement Through the Pandemic

While online shopping benefits in the B2B segment were visible long back, the pandemic has fastened the move towards digital procurement. 

  • Risk Management: Supply chain disruptions have been a significant challenge for enterprises. B2B marketplaces have responded with better data analytics, cloud computing, and the internet of things capabilities to augment supplier visibility.
  • Reliability: B2B marketplaces with diverse and inclusive supplier ecosystems are less prone to supply chain disruptions than their offline counterparts.
  • Safety: The pandemic has pushed the need for ensuring people’s health and safety. The online workflow supports collaboration across the supply chain and is safer than offline models of procurement.

Integrated Solutions: B2B procurement platforms allow enterprises to track, control, negotiate with suppliers, and report from a single platform. It will enable industrial buyers to get a B2C-like customer experience.

How Will Digital Procurement Make Life Easier for CPOs in the Future?

B2B marketplaces have seen a large scale adoption for some time now. Before the pandemic, the procurement officer’s responsibilities were those of negotiation and compliance. Beyond the pandemic, these responsibilities are likely to give way to supplier relationship building and risk management. 

B2B procurement automation will soon upgrade to include artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. This will lead to a more personalized customer experience, share product recommendations, and set reminders to prevent inventory stock-out situations.