Why sell-side e-commerce shopping carts are not the future for buy-side e-commerce

It is no surprise that the ordering interfaces used by the majority of e-procurement systems are based upon shopping cart technology that has been evolved on the sell side of e-commerce (aka Amazon). That is where the majority of investment in catalog development was focussed after the advent of web-based ordering.

However, as more and more purchasing departments are implementing P2P systems, electronic catalogs are now central to the creation and approval of requisitions. In order to make their use a more efficient and rewarding experience for buyers, significant changes are needed to a typical electronic catalog’s feature list to fully optimise it for buy-side use.

The following technologies can now assist in making major improvements in buy-side catalogs leading to happier buyers as well as promoting compliant purchasing.

Product Discovery
Whether accessing a catalog from within an internal procurement system or using PunchOut to connect to a supplier’s catalog, the multi-step, multi-page browse-and-select to product discovery can be time-consuming and frustrating, and even open the door to off-catalog or maverick spend.

The problem is often compounded by search tools which rarely go beyond an exact match capability. The elephant in the room is poor quality product data derived from ERP-system exports where long descriptions are a novelty and images a fantasy!

Suggestive Search
Advances in search technology can compensate for poor quality catalog data by delivering suggested results based upon the details entered in the search field. This can be coupled with ‘Did you mean’ results for search phrases that contain spelling errors or near misses.

Content Enrichment Engines
These can speed up the enhancement of product data quality by facilitating improvements such as localisation, conversion of measurements, addition of specification attributes and longer descriptions.

Catalog Views
Product relevance can be greatly improved by use of catalog views that ensure that users only see products that they are authorised to buy.

Rapid Entry
Having searched for and selected the required products it is then important to be able to efficiently create an order or purchase requisition.

We are convinced that conventional shopping carts are not suitable for rapid requisition or order construction as they are normally based upon an out-dated multi-page, category browsing interface.

Purchasing teams need to have a high speed flexible interface for building an order and again the technologies exist to make this possible.

The answer is a single page form – an intelligent order pad – which enables rapid order entry with every line having suggestive search capability to locate and add products, ideal for building a multi-line order quickly.  Using the latest web technologies each line operates with near-instant responsiveness even presenting in-place complex configurable products, smart forms and delivery options.

Excel Import – import of a pre-constructed multi-line requisition from a spreadsheet.

In order for procurement teams to increase their value within their organisation, maximisation of compliant managed spending is of paramount importance. Central to this is creating an efficient, intuitive buying experience using the latest catalog technologies.

To see these exciting developments in action, request a free a trial.

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