Kissflow Champions B2B Cloud Procurement
Near the middle of March 2020, most industries went into freefall. ‘My first thought as the CEO of a global startup’, Kissflow’s Suresh Sambandam wrote, ‘was this: “Will we be able to survive?”’ Yet more than one year later, the company’s Kissflow Procurement Cloud (KPC) service is taking off. Simply, as a cloud-based P2P (procure-to-pay) solution, it allows smaller companies to automate procurement tasks.
For any companies deterred by a year of low profits and tough choices, Sambandam asked: ‘What does a global pandemic do to innovation? Do we stop launch plans for new products and put them on the back burner? No’. Mohammed Kafil, Kissflow’s Senior Product Manager, added that cloud would help shift procurement from pen-and-paper to digital payments.
From ERP to the Cloud
Kissflow, like its SaaS competitors, will help companies upgrade their systems for the current payments economy—just in time. According to a CPO survey, nearly half of respondents want their teams to move towards cloud procurement systems. In a company blog, Kissflow cited the following reasons:
- Effective Costs. Takes away the need to invest in or maintain a SaaS procurement platform.
- End-to-End Integration. Eliminates redundant data and offers a single version of the truth.
- Easy Collaboration. Speeds up decision-making, reducing the length of the procure-to-pay cycle.
- Ease of Use. Scales storage space up or down as needed, handling seasonal spikes in demand.
But even a standardised cloud system ‘doesn’t account for real-time deviations’, said Kafil. (Kissflow offers a mix of pre-built and customisable digital procurement solutions.) ‘Instead, it forces procurement teams to live with product limitations’. Customised cloud options, on the other hand, can adjust and upgrade as bidding systems change.
Why Should You Consider the Cloud?
By allowing your accounts team to focus on capital management instead of settling supplier payments, cloud procurement enables fewer people to do more with less. As digital fraud proliferates, you can keep audit records and transaction timestamps. In addition, your global procurement teams can have better digital interactions with people they’ve never met in person. As a result, cloud security and high-speed authentication help build virtual trust.
Quite frankly, cloud solutions also track better. Companies can determine the average length of their bidding process, their number of new deals per quarter, and their monthly attrition rates more quickly and accurately than usual. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help analyse patterns and trends. And according to Kafil, e-Invoicing increases efficiency by ten times, allowing full-time employees to handle 30,000+ invoices per year.
Expanding the Cloud to Your Supplier Network
Yet if you only focus on digitising your systems, you may miss out on the bigger picture. Procure-to-pay requires not only digital collaboration with internal divisions such as accounting but also with your global network of suppliers. ‘When suppliers are spread across countries’, Kafil explained, ‘interactions become ever more virtual and there are more chances for the relationship to turn transactional rather than strategic. This re-emphasises the need for a digital procurement system’.
As for the future of Kissflow, Sambandam says that the company is focusing on the ‘Power of Simple’. ‘It’s more than just a tagline’, he wrote. ‘It seeks to encompass everything Kissflow does. Bringing simplicity to complex work tasks, automating the mundane and enhancing productivity’. Good news for procurement. With global supply chain shortages and supplier delays, digital simplicity sounds like a solid path forward.
3 Marketplace Myths in the Rush to Digital Supply Chains
The coronavirus-induced rapid digital transformation has thrust online marketplaces into the spotlight. Sellers now desperately want and need to get in on this revolution but do not always completely understand the implications of marketplace selling in the rush to establish their digital supply chain.
The hype is understandable. Online marketplaces offer a flexible business opportunity with relatively low start-up costs, provide an additional channel to market and sell products, reduce marketing costs, and facilitate expansion into new geographic markets.
They also help vendors meet consumers where and how they shop as consumers prefer marketplaces over brand websites for various reasons, including customer reviews, product comparisons, fast and free shipping, and easy returns. In 2020, marketplaces comprised 62% of global e-commerce sales, with the top 100 selling a total of $2.67 trillion.
The prospects are enticing. However, setting a marketplace strategy up for success calls for understanding what it actually means to sell digital services and subscriptions at scale. Let’s clear the air by dispelling some common myths.
1) It’s just one marketplace and done.
Joining or creating a marketplace is not the be-all and end-all to ensure an efficient digital supply chain. It is just one avenue to digital transformation—and often, the solution is more than one marketplace; it can be two or three or more. Companies might even have a unique marketplace for different verticals, with their small and medium-sized marketplace different to their corporate marketplace.
Ample, convenient, and varied purchase points help shape a next-level customer experience and allows for greater agility. Vendors that promote in three or more channels can see a 200% increase in gross sales. So sellers need to strategically diversify their sales channels with the help of a sustainable strategy and be aware that a marketplace serves as an extension of their overall digital presence and an important part of branding.
In order to prepare for a multi-marketplace offering and draw up a winning game plan, vendors should take some crucial factors into consideration and avoid certain pitfalls:
- Select the right marketplace: It may be tempting to take a spray-and-pray approach and list your offerings on as many marketplaces as possible, but it usually leads to poor results and wasted resources. It can also leave customers with an inconsistent impression of your products and services. Find your core competencies and look for platforms that fit your multi-marketplace strategy and allow you to sell well with competitive price points and acceptable margins. Remember that quality trumps quantity.
- Tailor your content to each marketplace: Apart from the fact that duplicate content strategy is a red flag for search engines like Google, it implies lack of discretion and respect for your target audience. Carefully study your chosen channels, identify the unique drivers for success on each of them—including what they require, how their algorithms work, and what its users respond to best.
- Know the right timing: A major element of a successful multi-marketplace strategy is listing the right offerings in the right place, and at the right time. This requires you to keep close tabs on the market demand, the latest trends and opportunities, and consumer behaviour on each channel.
- Align your multi-marketplace sales strategies with your overall objectives: As a marketplace is an extended arm of your business, your sales strategies there should eventually help you advance your mission, vision, and values as a seller if you want to achieve sustainable growth.
2) Backend operations are negligible and a headache.
It is not just the shiny front end of the marketplace. Businesses should have powerful backends for catalogue and subscription management, which involves much more than simple publication. But although selling through multiple marketplaces may seem like an incredible amount of work, a wide range of technologies are available that take this daily tedium off your plate and out of the realm of human error.
Automate all steps of the process for best results, including bringing your offerings to various marketplaces, registering purchase orders and billing as well as managing upgrades, downgrades, and cancelled subscriptions.
It is also paramount that sellers have the right technology in place to seamlessly connect their infrastructure, workforce, and partners through data. It not only optimises the operations but also enables better collaboration across all the players involved, offers easy access to consumer data and analytics from every channel, helps consolidate data silos, and unifies the customer experience.
Most importantly, automation and data integration provide actionable insights. Accessing insights enables sellers to react in real-time and pushes them to improve and innovate around the consumer’s experience, needs, expectations, and buying behaviour—which eventually helps them stay relevant and competitive.
3) Ecosystem is just a buzzword.
Sellers should not underestimate the power of strategic alliances. The ultimate goal of marketplace selling is to effectively orchestrate an ecosystem, with partnerships unlocking distributed innovation and enabling new revenue-generation streams for you and your entire network.
Since a strong network of partners can offer products and services beyond that of a single company, a well-managed ecosystem can create a positive feedback loop and help you achieve a competitive advantage that would be unattainable alone.
In fact, an ecosystem advantage is the best result of digital supply chain creation as it can exponentially multiply the value and utility that your business has to offer to your customers without incurring the exponential costs of doing so.
To start building your ecosystem, you should first adopt an ecosystem mindset. Traditional selling is conducted manually and face to face, and any changes in the products, as well as sales and marketing strategy, are communicated to each partner reseller individually. In order to scale in an ecosystem, this is no longer possible. You must shift to automating every aspect of your business such as sales, marketing, and fulfilment or your business will never grow at scale.
And don’t reinvent the wheel. Companies that try to go it alone and build their own marketplace management platforms will get left behind because the time, energy, and expense it takes is too much. Instead, businesses should rally around a standardized technology solution to help companies quickly and easily build and manage digital ecosystems.
Software vendors especially are advised to build products with ecosystems in mind. Ask yourself: “How can I bundle this product into a holistic solution within an ecosystem?” You should also look to simplify full-time product delivery and customer service to fit into and stand out in an ecosystem.
A worthwhile endeavour
Every smart strategy starts with asking the right questions, and jumping on the multi-marketplace bandwagon is no exception. Layout a detailed, clear roadmap from end to end. Ask yourself who you are targeting and what the problem you are trying to solve is. Then chart the entire customer experience from their point of research and purchase to delivery of the product, the payment process, and post-delivery services.
Starting here will ultimately touch on all other areas of consideration, including contract flows, publishing, provisioning, order flows, billing and invoicing, channel management, reporting, business intelligence, and subscription management.
With this sales journey front of mind, today’s myths and misconceptions should not disrupt your move to the digital supply chain. It is just a matter of building your image on different marketplaces slowly and steadily, with a cautious eye on the bottom line of your business. And it sure is worth the effort.