B2B partners including suppliers, shippers, 3PLs and customers etc. are the lifeline of your business. You have every reason to thank them this holiday season. There are three things you can do to improve your B2B relationships and keep your partners happy.
1. Improve Partner On-Boarding
One of the biggest challenges in B2B relationships is the complexity of on-boarding partners. Setting up partners for B2B document exchange is painful and can damage the relationship from the get go. There are several steps you can take to fix that. A dedicated Partner portal remediates the problem as partners will have one portal for on-boarding, testing and managing subsequent changes for certificates and keys etc. Two way communication just becomes easy and most of the on-boarding steps can be automated.
2. Consolidate B2B Systems
Companies use multiple B2B systems and that causes partner dissatisfaction as the same partner has documents like orders, invoices and payments going back and forth over different channels. Multiple systems cause chaos, decrease visibility and automation/process improvement initiatives fail. Evaluate your B2B exchange mechanisms and see if your transmissions can benefit from consolidation. Engage partners in consolidation initiatives and increase visibility and scalability of your B2B transactions.
3. Make APIs part of your B2B Strategy
File based B2B systems work fine but the interfaces are not suitable to real-time interactions. Light weight REST based APIs are a good alternative for real time needs. If you want real-time visibility into a particular transaction e.g. check the status of a payment, the APIs can expose the B2B data for such transaction details. Moreover APIs provide a secure way to extend your data to mobile devices which means you can get visibility into B2B transactions no matter where you are. Over time you can also extend this visibility and take actions remotely.
B2B data formats such as EDI may be old but you can still modernize the infrastructure by consolidating the systems into a B2B Gateway and build on-boarding portals to streamline partner setups. By planning for an API extension to B2B Gateways, you can gain additional visibility and meet mobile needs. Thank you partners this holiday season and plan on improving your B2B in 2015.