You no doubt like to think of your company as a firm with which it is easy to do business. You pay your invoices on time, you do not put in too many rush orders, and you have even implemented EDI tools to make communication seamless and simple. So, why haven’t your major suppliers come on board and integrated with your EDI tools?
Suppliers have a variety of reasons for not utilizing EDI tools, and it is common that those reasons are based on a fear of change or simple lack of knowledge of what EDI systems can do for businesses. That does not mean that you cannot exercise your powers of persuasion to encourage them to use EDI tools. Read on for three ways to enable your suppliers to come onboard to your EDI system.
First Things First: Prioritize Your Biggest Suppliers for Onboarding
When it comes to EDI tools, your onboarding priorities should be your biggest suppliers. They are the ones with whom you do the most business, so you will both reap the greatest benefits from onboarding.
If you only order from a supplier once or twice a year (even if it is a large order), you are not going to see the types of efficiency gains that you would if you brought a larger supplier on board. Carefully evaluate the importance of your relationship with a supplier based on the number of invoices you receive from it; the more invoices you have, the more valuable that company is to you.
Take the Lead
EDI tools are not like “Field of Dreams”; you cannot just say, “If you build it, they will come,” and hope that your suppliers decide to onboard. You have to be proactive about integrating your suppliers into your EDI system.
What does being proactive involve? Meet with key stakeholders and explain what is in it for them. Many suppliers are hesitant to come on board with EDI tools because they believe that integration will not benefit them, and that is simply not true. Build a strong business case that shows how they will get paid faster, they will have greater visibility into customer demand, and their employees will not have to enter data (which saves time and drastically reduces errors).
Make Onboarding Simple and Painless
Another reason suppliers are typically hesitant to integrate with their customers’ EDI tools is because they are afraid it will be a complicated process that will drain their IT resources and waste their employees’ time. That does not have to be the case.
The easiest way to invite your suppliers on board is to send them an email with a registration link (which also contains their username and password). All they have to do is click on the link. Also, it has to be incredibly simple for the suppliers to submit required documents such as non-disclosure agreements or NAFTA certifications; if they can upload a scan or submit a digital photo, your suppliers’ excuses will disappear.
Your EDI tools provide enormous value to you and your suppliers, but that is only true if both of you utilize them. For more information on ways to gently yet effectively persuade your suppliers to integrate with your EDI system, contact us.