Most companies working with b2b clients understand that there are many processes which can be and should be automated to improve the quality of cooperation with clients. This is the reason vendor cabinets are being developed. This helps to speed up the feedback from managers and decreases the amount of mistakes. What is vendor cabinet? It is a vendor’s instrument of communication with the supplier of goods and services, making life of b2b client much easier.
Vendor roles may be different for each company and depend upon the company’s structure. But still we can name three main roles which are usually presented in every company.
For example, while using Google vendor cabinet, we have got a role of administrator who creates new items, a role of advertising manager dealing with ad budget, a role of content manager, creating new entries, finance roles where all finance documents created by google are attached and so on. So we can see that all vendor roles depend on the structure of the company and on how official duties are arranged inside the company.
While developing vendor cabinets the poll among corporate clients who will use these cabinets is usually taken to gather the information about their structure. According to information gathered, some average roles are being developed. Developing roles staying in tune with just a single company is not right.
Why do we need vendor roles?
Vendor roles give an ability to demarcate the access to some specific kind of content without overloading the user with unnecessary features and functional. In addition to this, many companies have a secure history which doesn’t give access to specific data to specific users.
For example, if we don’t want a manager to know about how active is the cooperation of our company with the supplier. While the quantity of shipments may count millions dollars, we may make the manager think that they count ten times less.
Which reports vendors need?
This question directly depends on the vendor roles:
- Finance managers need to understand the balance of a precise client, while the user needs to know how much he owns to a supplier, the date the loan should be paid back, what is needed to deliver on a plan and so on.
- Head of sales monitors how his managers work with a specific vendor client to manage inner processes.
- Sales manager watches his efficiency and bonuses for selling precise goods. All these becomes easy using vendor cabinets.
By the way, accountants usually watch their finance reports through ERP systems, however, it is also possible to do this through vendor cabinet.
When do we need a vendor cabinet?
We need to develop vendor cabinets when the company works with a big amount of partners. If the system is developed for a single partner with a small amount of users and roles this just doesn’t make sense.
Terms and conditions of vendor cabinets development:
There are many vendors;
At least one vendor has many roles and users;
The amount of processes is big and we need a system to automate and simplifying.
How to gather system requirements?
1. Answer the question for whom are we doing these vendor cabinets?
We should decide how many vendors will use the system and which roles do they have.
2. Call a meeting of partners of the goods or services owner.
On this meeting fake scenarios of business cooperation are played and this gives an understanding of which features this product will start from to solve the problems in cooperation. Often this question concern accounts delivery when it takes too much time to form them on the side of a sales manager.
3. Communication with vendors
You need to communicate with a vendor’s personnel to outcrop their additional needs. For example there may be a necessity of downloading some kind of data (catalogs, product information, etc.). So to avoid sending this info to every user each time, it is possible to place this functional in vendor cabinet and it becomes available to all users who are in role of sales of a specific partner.
So requirements are gathered in live communication with a partner and his personnel. If an ordering customer sets the requirements himself it may turn out to be risky enough because he may not notice all the necessities. However it may happen that a customer already has enough experience of working on different positions and knows directly which features he needs. But still this is rather an exception.
How to teach users?
Teaching users is a process which will help us to improve the product and get a feedback of how good the product is developed. To minimize money losses for vendor partners teaching should take place in a certain way:
Instructions for users of all the roles are being written.
Live demo is held. It may be live or be hold via Skype or other similar services. During the demo scenarios the system was developed for are played by user who hasn’t ever worked with the system before. Authorization, report forming, catalog downloading, good information changing and many other actions are performed during the demo to teach the new user.
The understanding of what should be improved comes after communication with users. Most of them will suggest some changes, adding a specific feature, etc. For example user may ask to add an ability of liking most often ordered goods to create some kind of favorites or so called “repeat orders”. After such communication you start to understand what should be improved to make the product as efficient and easy to work with as possible.
Information updates in vendor cabinets
Every business is built upon big amount of different systems. In order to keep the information in vendor cabinets up to date without doing it manually, you should integrate this software with inner systems of business. Some integrations should be constant as they update data rather often while others update quite rare. For example, questions dealing with finance reports demand frequent updates, while product information is updated not so often.
Most companies update data through different web systems. There are many technologies, the most popular are Python, php, js and each one has its benefits and drawbacks. The thing you should pay attention to while choosing the technology is that you should take into account the possession cost of the product. From this perspective, Python and php are cheaper than Node.js and there are much more specialists dealing with these two technologies.
After all business requirements are created it is important to white all technical documentation of the entire project. The documentation is called use-cases of the project. Besides, it is necessary to write user portraits. We should do this to know the abilities, the level of project education and the necessities of users of all the roles. When the use cases are written, the technology is chosen and the understanding of how loaded the project will be has come it comes the time to start developing the project.
What time does it takes?
If a company has already gathered enough information of what should this product consist of then the process of gathering business requirements may take 2 to 4 weeks. If the amount of partners is big and the information is not yet gathered then it will take much more time.
Use cases for an average b2b portal may be written during 2-3 weeks. The things described in them are technological stack, data bases, programming languages being used in the project.
The development of b2b vendor cabinet itself may take from 2 weeks to 3 month.
This article would not be full without successful and easy-to-use cases created by professionals for corporate business clients. So let’s have a look at some of them to find out the benefits of each of them. This may help you to understand which features you will need while developing your own vendor cabinet and which features may be useless to your business. Such understanding may save you much money in future.
One of the biggest local marketplace:
- 1,5M SKU
- 3,7M visits/month
- 50 hypermarkets all over Ukraine equipped with terminal systems we developed (https://lenal.eu/portfolio/terminal )
- 100TB of media added monthly
- 50 internal trademarks
- 1K manufacturers
- 30K suppliers
This is a web application but not a pure ERP system as there is also factual ERP for orders and finance handling. Here are 3 main elements implemented to this Admin Panel:
1. Supplier’s working space:
- dashboard showing active/inactive products of a supplier;
- orders active/history;
- returns management;
- last updates on the price/products upload and ability to edit it;
- different types of roles within the supplier’s team
- product content management
2. Internal media department management space: photo and video upload, editing and publishing.
3. Project manager working space:
- different types of roles within the system
- suppliers management - creation, editing, establishing the category and characteristics; all supplier activities moderation;
- media content approval from both media department and suppliers content managers
There has been developed a separate module for logistics:
- project’s own delivery chain (100 trucks/1 of the 50 hypermarkets)
- external delivery services
- dynamic delivery price calculator on the check-out - complex logics according to 3 product categories and the price dependency on their percentage in the order and availability in warehouses and their proximity
There is also an interesting feature developed – stores may have regional offers. For example, low-middle price products from regional suppliers are only available locally for the users, as the delivery price is too high to deliver them out of a state.
Ecosoft - https://lenal.eu/portfolio/ecosoft
Vendor cabinet here was a feature to collect all vendors (company’s operations are now in 46 countries around the planet) into one hub and provide both a dashboard with finance, orders, timely sales reports and finally a system to support existing clients and follow-up on customers using an app or telecom to remind to change water filters and upsell.