Get ready for a new level of easier-to-use procurement software personalized to the needs of buyers. It’s on the way, experts say.
In the ongoing tug of war between controlled spending within procurement systems and uncontrolled purchasing by independent e-commerce sites, corporate procurement managers and their teams of individual buyers are often at odds. The managers, often dealing with tight budgets and government regulations on product specifications, want to control what their teams purchase and how much they spend through procurement software that restricts purchasing from approved suppliers, products and prices; the buyers want the freedom to purchase the items they need, when they need them, from their favorite—and typically feature-rich—e-commerce site.
The happy medium is often touted as procurement software systems that control spending while also providing buyers with broad purchasing options—including the option to “punch out” or link from a procurement system to the relatively user-friendly e-commerce site of an approved supplier.
But many buyers still complain that such procurement systems can be cumbersome to use and slow to display particular products and related pricing and descriptions. One way that vendors of procurement software address such concerns is by connecting their software to product information management, or PIM, systems, enabling them to show up-to-date product information and pricing from product suppliers.
That’s the strategy procurement software vendor Vinimaya Inc. took last fall when it launched Aquiire as a procure-to-pay software suite providing users with constant updates of product information from multiple suppliers, including product compliance with government regulations as well as product pricing, specifications and availability. Procure-to-pay, or P2P, is a system that provides a record of every step of a procurement process from when a buyer searches for a product and makes a purchase to the seller receiving payment. The system provides both the buying company and the seller a record of what was viewed and purchased.
“The Aquiire software represents a complete rewrite and vast expansion of the company’s previous e-procurement solutions, using modern, patented technologies to achieve its real-time advantages,” CEO Mike Palackdharry says. The company, which this week changed its name to Aquiire Inc. to reflect the importance of its new procurement software, says the Aquiire software helped to drive up sales last year by 300% over 2015. It doesn’t report revenue, income or other financial numbers.
Palackdharry attributes that growth largely to the capability of the new software to provide users with instant updates of information throughout the purchasing process. “People expect instant, accurate and proactive information across everything they do,” he says. “If corporate purchasing systems don’t keep up with this ‘speed of now’ expectation,” he adds, buyers will bypass their company’s procurement software and buy from unauthorized e-commerce sites.
Aquiire is on the right track to providing a more attractive and effective procurement system, says Duncan Jones, vice president and principal analyst for procurement systems at Forrester Research Inc. But it still has a ways to go to compete head-on with full-featured B2B e-commerce sites, including such marketplaces as Amazon Business, designed to recognize returning buyers and serve up personalized content. “Aquiire can’t yet deliver the deeply personalized experience of a specialist e-commerce sell-side website,” he says.
He adds that he advises procurement managers to look for software designed to begin to embrace the usability and personalization of strong e-commerce sites while also providing spend management features. “Aquiire has started down that path,” he says.
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