With 66% of B2B businesses planning to build larger partner ecosystems, and the average number of parties involved in buying transactions constantly growing, companies can no longer afford lengthy partner onboarding processes and inefficient information exchanges. Straightforward interactions, transparent business practices, and efficient communication are essential to attract and retain business partners. Not surprisingly, improving the digital experience in partner interactions has become top of mind among B2B organizations.
At SAP, we are witnessing this renewed focus firsthand, as we see our customers implementing supplier portals based on SAP Cloud Platform on top of their existing SAP Business Suite (ECC) and SAP S/4 HANA to improve their vendor experience and the efficiency of their supply chains.
A Supplier Portal as a Game Changer in B2B Relationships
Supplier portals are a versatile solution to address a broad array of needs. Their overarching goal is to enable vendor self-service and promote a common view of data to empower collaboration, accelerate problem resolution, and improve overall efficiency. Some of our customers start with automating everyday supply chain transactions – such as purchase orders, ship notices, and invoices. Others go all the way to simplifying the overall onboarding process for new suppliers.
A supplier portal also provides an efficient way to adapt to evolving business ecosystems. Partnerships are established and discontinued on a regular basis, and buyers change their business practices too – whether to update business terms, change shipping and invoicing procedures, or simply improve production forecasting. With a supplier portal, it becomes easier to keep active partner lists up-to-date and communicate changes in business practices, improving partner engagement, shortening rump-up-times, and avoiding drops in channel productivity.
SAP Cloud Platform Portal at Work
Let’s look at a real-life example of a customer operating in the retail sector. The company decided to build a supplier portal connected to SAP S/4 HANA to improve collaboration and engagement with its suppliers who help provision hundreds of stores worldwide with the newest fashion trends.
Fig. 1: Example of a supplier portal architecture on SAP Cloud Platform Portal
corporate-wide policy changes had to be updated on each site separately, causing inconsistencies and delays across brand.
The new portal provides a single point of access to information and processes – all accessible via a single sign-on. To ensure the new website would hit the mark in terms of addressing business needs and user experience requirements, the company used the design thinking methodology as part of its design process – involving both internal stakeholders and suppliers. This was an important part of the project as the company wanted to provide well-needed efficiency, but also be sensitive to the unique needs of each brands.
Under-the-hood, the portal is using SAP Cloud Platform Portal and the many services available on SAP Cloud Platform. For example, to simplify access to data, SAP Cloud Platform Portal is leveraging SAP OData Provisioning to access data in the on-premise applications safely. The company also used SAP Web IDE on SAP Cloud Platform to create custom apps for approval procedures.
To improve the user experience, the supplier portal implements personalized landing pages to meet the need of the different personas accessing the site. It also delivers a uniform look-and-feel across desktop and mobile devices. This is possible because SAP Cloud Platform Portal leverages the Fiori UX, which is responsive and automatically adapts to the available screen sizes. Also, since the company operates globally, SAP Cloud Platform Portal takes advantage of SAP Translation Hub to localize portal pages in a variety of languages.
Why Should you Consider SAP Cloud Platform Portal for your Supplier Portal?
The real-life example we just covered hopefully gave you a sense of the versatility and power of SAP Cloud Platform Portal. If you need to create powerful business sites that combine business data and processes from SAP and third-party systems with an engaging user experience, you should give a serious look at SAP Cloud Platform Portal and the many complementary services available on SAP Cloud Platform. Also, since being able to interact with up-to-date information from Web and mobile devices is critical in B2B relationships, have a look at the value you can derive from our partnerships with ContentStack that provides headless Web Content Management systems and Egnyte, which offers Document Management. Both solutions are integrated into the SAP Cloud Platform Portal.
We are confident that the SAP Cloud Platform Portal can make the difference for your business and we recommend customers running their supplier portal on SAP NetWeaver Portal to transition to the cloud. And, while we are on the subject of the cloud, let me make a couple of important points. First, if you are concerned about moving your data to the cloud, note that you can continue to keep your critical information on-premise and leverage secure connections from SAP Cloud Platform to access it. Also, SAP Cloud Platform Portal is multi-cloud, so you can choose the cloud infrastructure provider you prefer and easily embrace the benefits of the cloud – no upfront cost or time-consuming setup.
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