Like most suppliers, you probably began using Ariba® Network in response to a customer’s request. But now that you’re on it, you might be wondering: Just how does Ariba Network stack up against other networks your customers ask you to join? And what value does it give you, especially weighed against any fees you might have to pay?
While it’s true that most suppliers use Ariba Network for free,[i] SAP Ariba has a two-sided pricing model that charges both buyers and suppliers. This is based on our philosophy that customers should pay for the value opportunity they receive. So once you reach a higher usage status, where you have the opportunity to realize major cost savings through the network, you pay fees based on the volume of business you transact.
Yet when you add up the top- and bottom-line gains Ariba Network delivers—along with the unique benefits and advantages it provides—it’s clear that Ariba Network offers significantly greater value than any other B2B network today. By using it, you gain access to:
- The world’s largest trading partner community. With 2 million companies transacting over 1 trillion USD in business commerce in 190 countries—and a new company joining every 2 minutes—Ariba Network is the largest and most advanced collaborative B2B network globally. Its size and scale create what Andrew Bartels of Forrester Research calls a “positive network effect,” where companies join at rapidly escalating rate because most of their buyers or suppliers are doing so too. “Networks with the most buyers and suppliers and the most growth in both areas will be best positioned for the future,” he says.[ii] How does this benefit you?
Connects you with a vast ecosystem of potential new trading partners and relevant business opportunities
Gives you access to proven solutions whose effectiveness is continually honed and improved based on feedback from millions of users
Drives long-term viability, which means the time and effort you spend gaining proficiency on Ariba Network will continue to benefit your business over the long haul
- A one-stop shop to manage all market-to-cash processes. As more customers ask you to support their e-commerce initiatives, effectively managing the complexity of those requests becomes increasingly important to your business success. Instead of requiring you to connect to multiple networks, vendors, and niche solutions to automate each activity—which can end up costing you more in time and resources than what you save—Ariba Network gives you a single platform to collaborate with customers on all business commerce processes, including leads, bids, proposals, contracts, catalogs, orders, invoices, and payments.
This makes it easier to provide the optimized buying experience your customers want and accommodate their changing demands. It also helps you enhance efficiency and eliminate expense across every aspect of your business. “One of the things Ariba Network gives us is that central place to manage multiple trading partners together,” says Rob Brooks, private digital commerce global solution consultant for IBM. “The flexibility of the network is probably one of its greatest advantages.”
- Value that transcends transactions. While many networks provide electronic document delivery, transformation, and error-checking, SAP Ariba has been “aggressive [in] expanding the range of services it offers” beyond these basic capabilities,[iii] creating extensive opportunities and resources to help you:
Find active leads and land new customers
Market your company more effectively
Strengthen relationships and drive compliance to increase business in existing accounts
Gain greater visibility into and control over when you’re going to get paid, and manage cash more effectively
Use the network as an effective sales channel
And that’s just the beginning. Of course, to realize the potential benefits, you have to develop an e-commerce strategy that embraces these opportunities. “If you view the Ariba Network as simply your digital fax machine, then you’re really missing the value; there’s a lot more to it,” says Rob. “You’ve got to understand what the value is beyond getting that order and sending that invoice other than getting paid. So understand the value proposition, be ready to understand the structure, and understand the ways to do it.”
Support and services that treat you as a customer. The exceptional support and service you receive as an Ariba Network supplier are directly tied to network’s two-sided pricing structure, which treats and charges you as a customer. The primary focus of this strategy is to provide value that aligns with fees. While free networks might seem more appealing on the surface, the hidden costs they incur can be more expensive to your business in the long run. “You may have heard this common refrain: if you’re not paying for a product, you actually are the product,” says Ken Redler, chief technology officer at cSubs, noting that SAP Ariba’s choice to charge suppliers provides revenue that’s invested into support resources and infrastructure. His company views Ariba Network fees as a cost of doing business, and compares them to credit card fees, which cost far more. “With Ariba, we’re putting less money in and we’re getting the whole infrastructure that does all these other things,” he says. “We definitely feel like we get sufficient value for the fees that we pay.”
Other suppliers agree. “Ariba’s got a great set of resources, and really one of the best teams as far as treating sellers as customers and helping them extract value,” says Rob. Cyril Long, B2B integration specialist for HP Inc., believes Ariba Network outshines competing networks, many of which his company transacts on. “We have found it to be the most economical to use, and the value we receive from that cost far outweighs the amount of expenditure we’re required to pay,” he says. The high quality and completeness of Ariba support and services stand out for his team as well: “It seems like no matter what time of day or night I call, there’s somebody there that can always answer my questions.”
Daniel O'Halloran, commercial general manager at Complete Office Supply, also views Ariba Network support as a crucial differentiator. “A lot of our customers are implementing a B2B integrated solution for the first time, so they really need a bit of hand-holding through the process,” he says. “What we’ve found Ariba really brings is support, experience, and expertise both for the customer and also to our own teams.”
A strategic resource for building institutional knowledge. Even though you may be aware that building your e-commerce maturity can give you a significant strategic advantage, knowing how to make that happen isn’t always easy—especially if you’re a smaller company. Ariba Network offers extensive resources to help you get there. “When you’re really small, you don’t have a whole compliance department and a whole department to look at processes,” Ken points out. “By having Ariba in the middle intermediating, giving you a template for how best to interact with large companies, it actually improves the business health of your company.”
Standardized, repeatable processes that you can leverage across multiple customers. Unlike many other networks, Ariba Network has clear, consistent standards to help you automate transactions and collaborate with customers. This not only makes it easier to get up and running the first time you connect with a buyer, but also allows you to leverage your experience across multiple customer relationships. Knowing what to expect eliminates stress and greatly expedites the connection process, since you gain expertise with every engagement. “The first one you do may have a learning curve, but each one gets easier and easier,” Ken says. “And because you’re working with the same exact system, each one is 95% the same as every other one.”
Testing is streamlined as well. With many networks testing can turn into a nightmare, requiring you to coordinate activities across multiple players, systems, and time zones. But on Ariba Network, “You have this entity in the middle, and you as the seller can go in and trigger documents to come to you that simulate what would be happening with the buyer, including a full PunchOut setup,” says Ken. “Having that intermediate entity greatly simplifies the onboarding process and the integration process.”
Recognized credibility that lets you compete with companies of all sizes. “We’re a small company of 30, but by being fully integrated with Ariba Network, we are truly standing shoulder to shoulder with other companies that are hundreds, maybe thousands of times as large as we are,” Ken notes. “By being part of Ariba, we have that imprimatur; we’ve passed the bar that all these other companies have passed. And in the eyes of procurement professionals, we’re often an equal choice.”
To gain additional insight on the value Ariba Network delivers, you can:
Hear more from Ken Redler and Rob Brooks in this SAP Ariba Live Slideshare session
Listen to Cyril Long of HP Inc., Daniel O'Halloran of Complete Office Supply (COS), Jeff Perkins of Misumi USA, and Nick Molloy of RS Components discuss the value Ariba Network provides for the price they pay
Assess your company’s Ariba Network ROI by going to the Ariba Network for Suppliers web page and clicking “Launch Seller Value Calculator”
Find out how new supplier subscriptions and pricing coming in September will better align features and costs to actual usage
[i] Currently, 92% of suppliers on Ariba Network pay no fees, since their usage falls below the level at which fees are incurred.
[ii] Andrew Bartels, “Vendor Landscape: B2B Business Networks—Supplier Networks and EDI-Based Networks Start to Evolve to Support Supplier-Buyer Collaboration,” Forrester Research, Inc., September 2015, p. 22.
[iii] Bartels, “Vendor Landscape,” pages 8 and 13.