Procurement: Transforming The Maverick Buyer Overnight
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Procurement: Transforming The Maverick Buyer Overnight

In Europe, SAP Ariba is cooperating with Mercateo for its Spot Buy feature, providing infrastructure via the B2B networking platform Unite. The result is a purchasing experience similar to consumer shopping for non-strategic procurement.

Tail-end-spend management, indirect demand, ad-hoc orders, free text orders, maverick buying – Let’s be honest, these are not exactly favorite topics in procurement. They’re usually intransparent, hard to manage, cumbersome for the person placing the orders and the process is far too expensive. Purchasing for peripheral demand is often stuck with a “scruffy kid” image.

People steer clear of addressing these problems head-on because they are complex and usually involve a whole lot of effort for a whole lot less ꞌgloryꞌ. If a company then has taken on the challenge and put optimization of indirect procurement onto its agenda, available potential is far from fully exploited.

That is especially important because selecting suppliers from the existing portfolio and catalog management is often no easy tasks as well. Even now, catalogs are often still unavailable in electronic format and master data is often manually and laboriously maintained. After the order is placed, things don’t look much better. Creditor management and monitoring of the many suppliers can generate high additional – manual – workload, in a segment where processing costs often exceed the value of the order.

Customers demand the overall package

Ariba recognized a long time ago that its purchasing solutions have to offer users an overall package. After all, alongside the strategic requirements, the customers demand solutions for ꞌthe restꞌ. The Ariba Spot Buy feature simplifies searching for and buying spontaneously needed items. In North America, Latin America and Australia, Spot Buy is already introduced successfully, with ebay and Mercado Libre as partners.

Yet the European market needs a more specialized partner because Europeꞌs diversity, so appealing in other aspects, quickly becomes a real challenge for procurement: Purchasing-cards are rarely used, special requirements for invoicing and receipts, a variety of legal systems to work with, obstacles and high delivery costs for cross-border delivery, as well as special cultural aspects. All this makes a ꞌone size fits allꞌ solution seem unreachable.

The decision to use Mercateo Unite as preferred infrastructure in Europe means that a solution of this kind has now finally been found.

The right timing

At moments like this, also between business partners, timing is the deciding factor. In March 2017, Mercateo launched the B2B networking platform when Ariba had already recognized the opportunities offered by its Spot Buy solution with Unite.

The cooperation now simplifies both getting new suppliers on board and provides access to a vast range of offerings on Ariba’s acclaimed multi-supplier platform.

The user now can do everything on one interface. No Punch-Out , no more logging into other systems: Thanks to Uniteꞌs interface capability (REST API), the user remains in their familiar e-procurement or ERP system. The integration workload when adding new suppliers is eliminated. Settings needed to comply with purchasing guidelines can be put into place in the SAP Ariba system as usual.

That isn’t all however and you might know where this is going: Unite doesn’t only clean up the system landscape but also does the same for creditor management. Payment management for all suppliers linked up via Mercateo Unite is handled via a single creditor. This is where indirect procurement finally can find acceptance.


About the author

Benjamin Storm, Mercateo

Benjamin Storm is an accomplished expert in procurement and Head of Partner Management at Mercateo.

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