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The Future of eCommerce: How to Drastically Reduce Your Supplier Onboarding to Magnify ROI

Written by Meshell Long on March 6, 2017 in Strategies & Tips

How to speed up product sourcing and reduce supplier onboarding time for higher ROI.

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Today’s customers expect a buying experience that is fast and convenient. eCommerce businesses have responded with custom APIs, powerful automation tools, and fine-tuned logistics, but suppliers have lagged behind.

The onboarding of new suppliers and product listings can still take months. It’s time to bring the onboarding process into the 21st century!

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Missed Opportunity Cost

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Perhaps the biggest drawback to a lengthy onboarding time is the missed opportunity cost. While you can stay on top of and prepare for predictable events like holidays and popular shopping days, fads and trends in retail are much harder to predict. If you can’t offer the latest electronic device or the hottest fashion trend to your customers when they want it, they’ll gladly shop elsewhere.

It can cost five times more to attract a new customer than to retain a current one. If you’re losing customers because of delayed product sourcing, then you’re facing an uphill climb to win them back.

Why Does Onboarding Still Take So Long?

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Despite a revolution in automation and cloud computing for eCommerce, the supplier onboarding process has been stuck in a holding pattern for the last decade. That’s because manufacturers and retailers are still relying on the same, clunky, data languages to exchange order and shipping information.

The most common data languages for suppliers include CSV (which is the least fancy data file with no markup), XML, and EDI, among others. In order to onboard a new supplier, you need to ensure that you can complete a seamless data stream, which often requires a lot of troubleshooting with your API.

It seems crazy to think about, but in a world of same-day shipping and one-click shopping, sourcing new products and onboarding new suppliers can still take months.

How Can I Shorten Supplier Onboarding?

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There are three effective strategies that can drastically shorten your supplier onboarding process. You can:

  1. Consolidate your suppliers onto a single management platform.
  2. Join a retail network of select suppliers to speed up product discovery and onboarding.
  3. Take advantage of cloud-based sourcing for seamless integration with suppliers all over the globe.

Typically, these approaches require you to partner with a 3rd party company like a drop shipper or supplier management firm. Another possibility is for you to create you own custom API to manage all your suppliers on a single platform, which requires a significant investment but can be worthwhile depending on your needs.

Doba is unique because we combine all three of these approaches (single management platform, product discovery tools, and cloud-based sourcing) to reduce the supplier onboarding process down to an average of 15 days.

Faster Product Sourcing and Shorter Supplier Onboarding

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When you can reduce supplier onboarding down to two weeks from several months, the ROI possibilities really start looking attractive.

First of all, the operational costs involved in a lengthy onboarding process can be astronomical, especially since it often involves dozens of hours of work from highly skilled developers and IT experts. When you free up that cost, you can re-invest that money into high-return efforts like new customer acquisition and customer retention.

Second, you can better position yourself to jump on lucrative product trends, without as much risk. When product sourcing is fast and overhead is low, you can test new products and find the ones that give you the best ROI. And when a new fad hits the market, you can confidently jump on board knowing that you won’t be late to the party.

Finally, you’ll be several steps ahead of your competition. That means you can grow your business by attracting more customers to your eCommerce site with products they can’t find anywhere else (and with a customer experience that blows your competitors out of the water). And with the ability to expand your product offerings quickly (without all the high overhead costs of a lengthy onboarding process), you won’t experience many of the growing pains that plague emerging businesses.

Cloud-Based Sourcing With Doba

You don’t have to tackle supplier onboarding on your own. You’ll experience a much higher ROI by partnering with Doba for cloud-based sourcing.

Want to know more? Download our recent whitepaper, The Future of Product Sourcing is in the Cloud:

Future of Product Sourcing whitepaper download

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