January 18, 2017
E-procurement is a fast hit with the Corporate India and the businesses in India are fastly moving towards adapting to technology. Corporate giants are fastly gearing up to become digital in all the aspects including Procurement which saves a lot of time and money, of course. But, going online is not always the best way to tackle timelessness. It could be fast, it could be efficient and it could be less expensive to use but the current Procurement Technology is not the solution, may be not the only solution. In a country like India with highly skilled Procurement Managers trained by usual methods of offline Procurement through their syllabus, getting them to an online platform is a task. But over the years, the technology that is being built for the Procurement isn’t up to the mark and it did help the industry to be streamlined but it isn’t advanced enough to make things more easier.
Why is the B2B eCommerce space not as prominent as the B2C eCommerce space?
There are a lot of cons of Online Procurement and the technology built for the industry in this year isn’t as fast as it is with B2C eCommerce companies which are making use of drones and automated trucks to get the good delivered. The B2C market expanded because of the immense demand and the market did not get stagnated at any point due to a lot of potential buyers. The actual reason behind the success of such B2C eCommerce companies are not just the demand, it is mainly because of the investment in the Technology of the firm. The Technology of these eCommerces have always shown progress in displaying their products in a very articulated manner where people had the impression of buying things in a usual Marketplace in a city or a town. The Technology twinned both the offline buying experience and the online buying experience to build confidence in the end user.
Offline buying experience is the key to make the customer feel right about the product that he is looking to buy. The online shopping lacks physical touch which is very essential for a first time user of a Product. But if a clear analysis of success of online shopping will yield us a success “factor” which is technology. The B2C e Commerce industry’s success should be credited to the Technology of the website(s) built to satisfy the end user. The end user satisfaction is also comparatively high due to the development in the Supply chain and Customer Relations.
Why is B2B eCommerce space in India is on a snail-paced movement?
The comparison between a B2C e Commerce firm and a B2B e Commerce firm is something that is totally uncalled for. There cannot be any comparison between the two and that has only one reason-- END USER. The user base of the both is completely unidentical and they are expected of to buy quantity of products that wouldn’t often match with each other. B2B eCommerce can be easily termed as “Bulk buying” of a consumer. NO, that isn’t the right definition of a B2B eCommerce and this is not for a single consumer but for a group of consumers working towards under one roof irrespective of the type of work they do. The decision of a purchase from a B2B e Commerce website is not done by these group of consumers also. That is where the difference comes into place. The Management or the Power centre which asks the Procurement/Admin team to make purchases of the requirements of these group of consumers make the purchase. Convincing a single consumer to buy from a website is easy as it has already been proven. Convincing a group of consumers demanding from another group of people who is authoritarian over the purchases made for them doesn’t even seem easy, right?
The information that are derived from the internal catalogues regarding the products in a B2B e Commerce website is often inaccurate and the pricing of the products are erroneous due to the infrequent updating of the information in the internal catalogue. The purchase pattern is also to be blamed for this infrequency. The B2B e Commerce websites often dump a lot of products in their catalogues which are often dormant. Most of the potential buyers and the existing buyers wouldn’t know about the existence of such products in the website. The dormant products are often left un-updated and they remain the same without any recent update in the fluctuation of the price of the product. Most of the B2B e Commerce companies are privy of information derived from Vendors and they do not have automation to update the status of special “vendor specific” discounts. This is due to the erratic communication with the vendors supplying products and these vendors also update Product information or inform the concerned teams responsible for the updation of product prices in a very laid-back manner due to the inactive visits to the product page or very rare purchases of the products.
Real time inventory levels are not always accurate on electronic systems especially in a B2B e Commerce site. Procurement solution tools that are existent can directly verify if the vendor inventory levels are accurate. If there is a delay due to non-stock availability of items, they are agile enough to switch the order to another vendor, and they can directly negotiate matching offers with vendors that do have stock. But, this is time consuming and it lacks commitment. This often leads to certain discrepancies in orders due to mismatched part numbers, product descriptions etc., that may not always be caught on e-procurement systems and/or these discrepancies might cause the order to be bounced off the system. The human element can analyze the discrepancies directly and quickly resolve the problem. But the automation of this process is the inevitable requirement currently in order to move forward and be in sync with fast paced advancements.
The users of Procurement websites are often left to order a lot which involves a lot of clicking and searching. The website is not often equipped with state of art search facilities and the users are often not able to find the actual product that they require. The search that does not yield any sort of result is the first user related issue that is a challenge for these Procurement websites. However, this problem can be tackled with a human alternative called Customer Support which guides the user to find the actual product. But, the search filters that yield the right results is the first gateway to a plain-sailing purchasing process.
One more thing that lacks automation in the Procurement service providers websites is Purchase Order. A Purchase order is often a format or to be very precise the “culture” of the Corporate Industry to purchase products in bulk. When the PO is shared in the form of Excel, the task is excruciating to make the order, to find the product in the search bar and place an order. This involves a lot of human effort and a minute by minute checking of the product related details. This particular aspect of the B2B purchase is very complicated.
As pointed out and analysed, there are very few Procurement web applications such as Kobster Elite that solve the complications pertaining in the B2B market. With much observations made, the uprooting e commerce players concentrate on enhancing the purchase experience of the Corporate Buyers. They understand that unresolved constraints can only be settled with the advancement in technology and a very stable product that helps the Corporate clients to entrust an online bulk purchase.