Six tips for adopting an e-marketplace

Gemma Dolman, head of indirect purchasing at bathroom supplier Bristan Group, told delegates at eWorld Procurement and Supply how to successfully adopt an e-marketplace.

1. Take it from the top

Dolman highlighted their secrets to success, discovered through their experience adopting Amazon Business marketplace into their system. Like all integration operations, compliance often starts from the top. Once higher tier executives are on board the rest of the company will follow and implement the necessary policies. Successful implementation of a marketplace revolves around the company having a cooperative, open-minded approach.

Dolman said: “Stakeholder buy-in is absolutely key. It’s important that all areas of the business that use the procure-to-pay process are fully involved in the project, from the raising of the order to the invoice at the end.” 

2. Tailored implementation

As all companies differ, from culture to budget to values, effective adoption of a disruptive marketplace involves catering the implementation method and process to your company.

Dolman said: “Make sure you tailor the implementation method to your business. We’re all different sizes, and while some methods work for some and vice versa, just make sure the method works for you.”

3. Set new expectations

Digital transformation relies on individuals learning and taking on board new processes. For this to happen a leader needs to guide the pack in what works, why and the advantages of making a change. Dolman highlighted how they identified marketplaces as an opportunity for operational improvements.

Dolman advised: “Promote this as a massive opportunity for process and service improvements. Show people the advantages, show people what’s in it for them, and streamline the process. Basically, show how much less paper will pass over their desks in the future.”

4. Continuity of care

Communication is always vital for ensuring seamless integration. When adopting an e-marketplace employees need to understand the new additional system in order to be able to use it. Constant support and information is required from the account manager. Dolman said: “Speak to your account manager regularly. This is key, whether it’s user support, help with navigating the system or help with reports and new features.”

5. Increased control and capabilities

In order to take full advantage of the potential benefits of adopting a marketplace solution Dolman advised exploring all the features and capabilities available. Use platforms controls and the ability to put in place restrictions to create structure. Dolman said: “Make whole use of the user groups and their capabilities, group people together and apply the same controls, or set up individuals to reflect their seniority within the business. You can control who’s able to purchase what items, and then who needs approval from who.”

Molly Dobson, head of Enterprise Customer Success at Amazon Business, explained how they’ve adapted their e-marketplace to meet the change towards increased ethical and sustainable sourcing and to ensure transparency of suppliers.

She said: “There is an incredible amount of due diligence that goes into vetting all of the vendors that sell through Amazon retail and all of the third-party suppliers that come through the marketplace solution. So if you go on the Amazon Business website today, you can access all those terms and conditions that everyone must sign up to before they can even list items. We have that concern in mind, from a gating mechanism before anyone can list products.

“After that is done you may want to set additional controls for your own company, such as you may want to restrict certain suppliers or products.”

6. Review and resolve

Dolman advocated giving regular feedback on how a marketplace is working for your company, including what the marketplace service can do better. This enables constant advancements to be implemented along the journey, which ensures a smooth transition to digitisation for users as well as an improved service. She said: “You can help the service improve, so feedback to your account management team is really key. Feedback on the system helps it to develop and improve for end-users.”

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