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As you evolve along the e-commerce maturity curve—moving from reactive mode, where you mainly respond to customer requests, to proactive, where you initiate actions that optimize your e-commerce capabilities to increase value for you and your customers—it’s important to put measurements in place to track progress and document success. And an e-commerce scorecard is a great tool to help you do it.

 

How can an e-commerce scorecard benefit your business?

An e-commerce scorecard gives you a highly effective way to share key metrics that reveal the success of your e-commerce strategy. Why is this important?

  • Enhances buy-in and support at all levels of the organization. When you share measurements, you increase visibility and appreciation for the value of e-commerce at all management levels—including the executive level. For example, hard numbers demonstrating how much of your company’s revenue comes through e-commerce can make management take serious notice. Similarly, when you can show how much money you’re saving on every electronic order that comes in unassisted (like the cost of 10-20 minutes of sales agent time per order) and how much faster you’re getting paid (by five to 15 days or more), executives can better understand the extraordinary potential of e-commerce to lower sales costs and reduce days sales outstanding.
  • Hones your strategy to drive better results. Besides making it easier to socialize your initiatives internally, publishing a clear set of measurements helps you and your team focus on what you really want to accomplish. With the right scorecard metrics, for example, you can see where you need to improve to achieve your goals and meet—or exceed—service levels provided by your competitors. And based on this data, you can make rational decisions about where to invest further. Measurements can also be the key to securing new budget for e-commerce initiatives; the more executives see tangible proof of the value of e-commerce, the easier it is to get funding for e-commerce improvements to grow your team, enhance your e-commerce capabilities, and move further up the maturity curve.
  • Helps you benchmark and improve your market position. Measurements help you objectively assess how competitive your business is relative to other suppliers. For example, you can evaluate whether your services are at least on a par with best-in-class suppliers, and identify and promote specific areas where your performance and capabilities differentiate you from other sellers—which can be critical to finding and keeping customers and driving up sales.

 

Tomorrow: Getting started strategies

If you don't want to wait, go to our Supply Lines group to read the full article.

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Yesterday, we posted a blog that had tips on working with Sourcing Managers.  Today, we'll discuss the last two tips.

 

Tip #7: Don’t take your customer for granted once you finalize the contract. Too many sellers view a signed contract as the end point of their efforts. Yet getting the business is only the first step; keeping it is something else again. Cement relationships by watching for new opportunities to help the customer cut costs, work more efficiently, and make their life easier. If you don’t, you may lose their trust and ultimately, their business. “If a competitor points out ways my current supplier could be saving me money or bringing value-add that they didn’t tell me about, I may bid out that business and award it to someone else, whereas if my current seller had brought it to me up front I’d stick with them,” Sherrill says. “For example, if you’re providing e-catalogs for other customers, or using EDI or pCards or things like that, you should proactively say to us, ‘Do you want to use EDI? Because we can do it; please set us up.’ That’s always better than us having to reach out to you.”

 

Tip #8: Do follow good financial practices. For example:

  • Don’t invoice without a purchase order. Though the best practice is not to render service till you’ve gotten a PO, internal users will often ask you to move forward while promising to get the PO in the system. While that may be okay to a certain point, be sure to get a PO before sending your bill. “Invoices that don’t reference a PO delay the payment process and cause other match exception problems,” Sherrill says. “Instead, they need to insist that the end user gets the PO to them so they can reference it in the invoice.”
  • Know the buyer’s back-end AP processes and automate when possible. Dealing with the myriad ways sellers want to submit invoices creates headaches for buying organizations, so make it your priority to learn and use their preferred method. If e-invoicing is an option, be sure to offer it, since it saves you and your customer effort and expense and greatly increases accuracy.
  • Manage your cash flow effectively. Do whatever it takes to ensure that your bills are paid in a timely fashion and your other cash flow needs are met. “We’ve had suppliers come into our office and wait for AP to print off their check so they could pay their subcontractors and prevent legal action being taken against them,” Sherrill says. “That doesn’t look good.” Resources like Ariba Receivables Financing and dynamic discounting can help you get the money you need when you need it.

 

This post is part of the current issue of Ariba Supply Lines. Ariba Supply Lines is a quarterly newsletter that provides valuable tips, best practices, and the latest thinking to take your online business relationships with your buying customers to the next level.

To subscribe to this permission only newsletter, please click here.

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As a seller, you’re often driven by your customer’s contract management process. But when your business reaches a certain level of complexity, not having your own automated contract management solution means you start losing visibility into the contract lifecycle—which can wreak havoc on your company through compliance problems, lost sales from too-slow negotiation cycles or missed renewals, and even legal challenges. In fact, 60% of corporate litigations are related to contract disputes,[i] so reducing that risk through contract automation makes a lot of sense.

 

One expert considers it crucial. Christopher Dwyer, research director for Ardent Partners, notes that up to 75% of all corporate revenues are directly linked to sales contracts—a huge impact that underscores the importance of managing them effectively. Yet many sellers overlook automated contract management, despite the big benefits it can provide. An automated contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution standardizes and streamlines the contracting process, delivering the transparency and collaborative capabilities you need to negotiate and execute sales contracts quickly and efficiently—a key business advantage that can significantly boost your bottom line.

 

Tomorrow: The benefits of automated contract management

If you don't want to wait, go to our Supply Lines group to read the full article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[i] Source: Fulbright & Jaworski, 2010 Annual Litigation Survey

Don’t Miss the Ariba Commerce Summit Coming This Fall to a City Near You!

 

If you have a stake in driving more profitable business commerce for your company, then you need to join your peers at the 2011 Ariba Commerce Summit.

 

We’re kicking off this popular, free event on October 11 in New York. Followed by Chicago, San Francisco, London, and Paris.

 

Starting with a fun and productive evening reception, and leading into a day of breakout sessions, presentations, and networking, the Ariba Commerce Summit is your chance to learn successful collaborative business commerce practices from leaders in highly effective companies.

 

We’re focusing on efficient and effective trading-partner collaboration because that’s what it now takes to manage your costs and risks while boosting your top and bottom lines.

 

Last year’s Commerce Summits were packed. To reserve your place and get more information, including the agenda and city-specific details, click on http://www.ariba.com/events/commerce-summit/

 

Cities and Dates:

 

New York City

October 11-12

 

Chicago

October 19-20

 

San Francisco

October 24-25

 

More details to come on London and Paris!  Looking forward to seeing you there!

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You already know that Ariba Discovery is a great resource to find leads and land new business. Yet you may not realize that it also gives you a quick, simple, and cost-free way to obtain valuable information about your target market—which you can then use to hone your competitive edge and win more business.

 

So what’s the best approach? To get an idea, Supply Lines talked to Shirley Brzeski, director of ClearChoice Careers Ltd., who uses Ariba Discovery for market research and more. Below are four strategies you can use to get started.

 

Strategy #1: Track current and emerging market trends. Staying on top of shifting customer demands can be a big challenge, especially if you’re a smaller seller and lack funds for ongoing market analysis. Ariba Discovery can help you fill that gap. With over 200M USD in new business posted every month by hundreds of buying organizations—including 50 percent of the Global 2000—Ariba Discovery provides a great bird’s-eye view of purchasing patterns and market conditions. By regularly reviewing buyer postings in your industry over time, you can track what products, services, and qualifications prospective customers are seeking most often, then use that information as a yardstick for what you deliver. For example, ClearChoice scrutinized multiple postings to ensure that its service model was meeting market demands. “It helped us confirm that our approach is on track with what our target audience wants,” Shirley says. You can the same approach to spot nascent trends in commodity areas you serve, and gather intelligence about macroeconomic conditions that directly affect your business.

 

In tomorrow's blog, we'll share more tips on how to utilize Ariba Discovery

If you can't wait until tomorrow, visit our Supply Lines group to read the full article.

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