Supplier Onboarding isn’t a new concept by any means, but it’s something that most companies are yet to fully embrace. As manufacturing in the UK (and probably the rest of Europe) was in decline in the ‘90s, brought about by increasing consumerism and price competition from cheaper imported goods, businesses were forced to move their manufacturing offshore to Asia and the Far East to remain competitive. This led to a lengthening of the supply chain and associated lead times.
Supply Chain Management systems then have long since led the way in harnessing supplier onboarding technology, but it’s just as important and critical to PIM solutions, if not more so, given the constant pressure to streamline the onboarding of new product information and the continual drive to reduce time-to-market.
Barriers to adoption
Barriers to the adoption of supplier onboarding can include fears about security and concerns about data quality and accuracy. Robust infrastructure and good IT management practices should take care of the security fears, and then the supplier onboarding facilities provided should contain appropriate features to secure the data quality via sensible review and validation processes.
You may be surprised to learn that your suppliers will equally welcome a more structured approach to the exchange of data, and that supplier onboarding doesn’t necessarily lead to additional workload for them – getting the data exchange right first time should in fact save them time, eliminating fragmented communication, misunderstandings and time-consuming data resubmission. No longer should you need to rely on a variety of communication methods with your suppliers, ditching the spreadsheets, pdfs and emails in favour of supplier self-service.
Rising to the challenge
Managing an ever-increasing amount of product information and resources, down to item level, can be a huge challenge, and supplier onboarding provides one single point of exchange between you and all the suppliers and intermediaries you rely on for accurate product content, from text and media resources to technical specifications and product literature.
A good PIM system will allow you to create formatting and data transfer rules, and provide functions for running checks and data validation to ensure product quality. Achieving speedier onboarding of new products will give you happier suppliers who will deliver the right information, on time and with ever greater quality. You as a merchant can then achieve a shorter time-to-market and improve quality, whilst saving resources, time and money – these are the key benefits of a focused supplier onboarding strategy.
Supplier onboarding features
Supplier onboarding features you should expect to find in a good PIM solution include the following:
- A list of pending imports
- A log of previous import history
- The ability to create different template maps for different suppliers/entities
- The capability for suppliers to upload both data and media files
- Suppler self-validation of data prior to import
- A staging area for received imports
- Full control of the final import process
- User security
Before you choose a PIM suite then, make sure it has at least all of the above features to ensure you can implement a secure supplier onboarding solution and reap the benefits.
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