Why You Need B2B Procurement and Apparel ERP Software
Apparel plays a huge role in the e-commerce industry, even in the B2B space where more companies are adopting uniforms than ever before — like those Silicon Valley firms that now require company tee shirts. That means there’s a big chunk of the $12 trillion B2B eCommerce industry you could take advantage of with the right software.
To make the most of that, you’ll want B2B procurement solutions for apparel companies like yours because you’re able to better manage your supply chain, and that can mean cheaper rates for your purchases, more on-time production and delivery of your products, plus happier customers.
What Is B2B Procurement?
Business-to-business procurement is a buzzword you’ve probably heard a lot but haven’t seen any clear B2B procurement definition of because everyone seems to adjust it based on their needs.
B2B procurement is the entire process of sourcing the goods, materials, parts or products you need from vendors, which includes:
- Selecting the goods you want
- Making an order
- Receiving for and paying for that order
- Creating all of the documentation required along the way
That documentation covers your agreement for the order, any quality or standards you both agree to and the terms of your arrangement — which may include delivery times, how goods are packaged and the rules governing damaged goods and returns.
Procurement in this case covers all of the interactions your business has with another business. As you grow and source more products or parts — whether you’re selling those directly to customers or using them to create your own custom product you sell — this process becomes increasingly complex. That’s why many companies now offer B2B procurement solutions for apparel, manufacturing and other industries.
Typically, B2B procurement for apparel software is a cloud-based platform that allows you to create and maintain records of each step in your procurement process, from sending out RFPs and getting quotes from suppliers or exchanges all the way to making your payment when an order is delivered.
A strong system also integrates with apparel ERP software so you can manage your financial accounts as well, ensuring you have the funds and the inventory your overall business requires. It helps you run your business more efficiently.
Do You Need B2B Apparel ERP Software? Won’t B2C Software Work?
You can jump online or walk into an office supply store and pick up a basic set of software that can help with procurement, which is focused on the business-to-consumer side of things. Many businesses try to make this purchase because it appears cheap, but it ends up costing them a whole lot more in a short amount of time.
The B2C software isn’t recommended because it won’t have the contracts you need to create agreements with suppliers. It also doesn’t interact with today’s most common exchanges for creating RFPs and sourcing goods, and it’s designed for a point-of-sale system like a cash register. When you sell to businesses, you’re typically working with accounts and order forms, so those POS systems aren’t relevant and can be confusing when you have to figure out how to translate them into an order form.
That all sounds like a bit of a pain, and it’s expensive. However, here are a few reasons why choosing a B2C platform instead of an apparel ERP software will cost you:
- It doesn’t support business accounts, so you must pay employees to manually enter business purchase orders.
- Your IT staff will be needed if you want to customize the software to work with business partners, creating everything from scratch or working to integrate a wide array of disparate systems, which takes a strong coding background.
- B2C systems typically limit business rules for product categories, so you have to manually check orders against company spending limits and individual buyer authorizations.
- You just might be buying goods from a vendor with a higher-than-average process or one who has a poor rating because your system can’t properly sort or show that information.
- Contract disputes are more difficult to resolve because your B2C system won’t automatically create documents you need for a proper audit.
The good news is that a B2B procurement for apparel platform can do all of that and more, saving you money on training, time, IT, sourcing your goods and potentially on legal fees as well.
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What Are the Procurement Benefits of B2B E-Commerce Platforms?
Procurement solutions are specifically designed to make your sourcing easier, more efficient and more affordable. It’s easy to focus on those wins with a procurement system because they’re clear and don’t take a lot of explanation: You just have an easier time seeing a vendor’s goods, per unit pricing, shipping timeframes and pricing, and you don’t have to pay your IT team to create custom reporting software to see it all.
One thing that we at FDM4 think is worth considering is a procurement solution that’s part of an overall ERP solution as well. When procurement is just one dashboard of many, with all of the parts talking to each other, you’re able to get a better understanding of your business through an optimized use of your data.
You can automatically create reports that show what goods are most profitable for your operation. You can use the data you track in each part of the procurement process to audit your financials and predict future successes, and you can tie vendor-sourced goods to end-customer interactions.
That means understanding your business in such great detail that you might learn shirts from company A are 3% more expensive than one of your other vendors, but the clients who get those shirts are happier and will be more likely to re-order more often. This means A the vendor of choice to increase your business and your overall profitability.
It’s a great big complex world, and we’ve been managing it for the past 38 years. We’re the largest software vendor for the blank apparel and imprintable industry, and we’ve seen and heard almost all of it before. That means we can answer these questions and a whole lot more for you, right now.
Contact us today to learn exactly how B2B procurement solutions for apparel brands like yours are saving companies money and the benefit you get from having those modules as part of a larger, cost-effective apparel ERP software.