Electronic transactions at B2B electronic market are faster, more transparent, based on better market insight and exchange of experience between business partners. The availability of mobile solutions and increased activity of buyers and suppliers on the Internet, development of IT tools, including those that support purchases, make companies that wish to keep their competitive advantage quickly adapt to new technological capabilities.
Although we more often hear about such advanced solutions as e.g. cyber-physical systems and the Internet of Things that ensure real-time monitoring and optimisation of all elements of the supply chain, in many cases, companies still fail to make use of the already available technological capabilities. One exception is mobile banking that has been developing in Poland very dynamically.
What becomes important and what solutions gain in popularity?
What technological capabilities are important in electronic purchase and sales transactions? I would like to mention four of them:
- Mobile technology – enterprisers begin to recognise the efficiency of professional mobile solutions that let them stay online anytime, anywhere. In the current market situation, a company may not afford to, even for a moment, not have access to information. Unfortunately, a great number of mobile solutions remain only an unsuccessful attempt to copy web solutions, and their usability and implementation goes far below expectations. Mobility not only means access to current information but also is a new market for a company to promote itself. The area of mobile advertising gives advertisers the opportunity to create new ways of reaching clients and to engage them in mutual communication.
- Social media – mostly related to knowledge sharing and collaboration in both internal communication and supplier relations.
- Big data – data collected during realisation of thousands, and often, millions of transactions within corporate purchasing systems is an inexhaustible source of information about past spending or statistics, which, if calculated properly, makes an excellent base for analytics, preparation of real-time forecasts of performance as well as for monitoring changing market conditions.
- Cloud solutions – sharing IT resources means reduction of IT infrastructure costs and sharing the expenses resulting from the use of servers by many applications. Such solutions include contractor zones created outside of buyers’ information technology resources, which improves security. Other benefits are increased productivity and facilitated upgrading as well as data loss protection and no licence costs.
In purchase and sales transactions innovation means actual benefits
It is easy to conclude that with a proper management in place, the application of technological capabilities may be in many ways beneficial to the purchase and sales process. The main advantages are:
- Most of all, mobile tools, cloud solutions or social media modify the very form of relations between the buyer and the supplier. It is becoming more frequent for enterprises to take into consideration strategic, non-price aspects of cooperation and look at business relationships from a long-term perspective. Today, it is easier and more effective, and consequently the communication becomes smoother. (Also see Good supplier relations earn profits).
- Now, we may have access to sources and carry out transactions anytime, anywhere. This addresses the challenges of B2B market, i.e. flexibility and agile operation of the organisation.
- Electronic tools not only reduce the time and efforts put into the relation with a supplier but also make the way for Open Innovation. With improved ways of communication, shared knowledge is becoming easier and more natural.
- These kinds of solutions gradually change the nature of buyer-supplier relations. The communication barriers between the parties that often result from the lack of partner-like relations slowly start to decline.
- In addition to the new quality of relations, a significant factor is often the transparency of communication between the buyer and the supplier. When all data is transmitted over an application, activities of the parties remain fully transparent.
- New possibilities increase the opportunity for smaller enterprises in the market. The size of the supplier is no longer of such importance, because all suppliers are facing the same challenges: to reach clients quickly, ensure accessibility and provide friendly solutions.