TradeShift’s Christian Lanng kicked off the morning session in NYC by framing the broader argument for connectivity between buyers and suppliers, noting that there are thirty million companies in the US with less than a million (750,000) current enabled by the biggest network. Summing up the opportunity, he suggests that less than 3% of businesses in the US are likely enabled via EDI or an alternative supplier network approach. And the problem is only “worse, globally.”
Cost is one issue tied to enablement, which ties to the “free for suppliers” approach that Tradeshift adapted at the start of its market launch, mostly to break down the paper connectivity barriers between buyers and suppliers. More recently, Christian suggests, the model and approach has continued to drive to a “large-scale supplier onboarding” approach that leverages self-service tools rather than a BPO-like services enablement solution.
The existing model is to use a call center for supplier onboarding. Without mentioning them by name, Christian attempted to paint his competitors (e.g., OB10, Ariba) into this bucket. Spend Matters quick fact check: partially, but not entirely true. In contrast, Tradeshift preaches a self-service, electronic approach to supplier enablement. Christian claims, “on-boarding efforts are running with suppliers in 50 countries today.”
At breakfast, I had the chance to talk to three different Tradeshift prospects, including one individual who has experience with an e-invoicing network competitor also taking a largely call-center driven approach. It’s worked for larger suppliers, but not the long tail of vendors. They’re looking at Tradeshift (along with competitors) to potentially tackle suppliers they’re not capturing in an e-invoicing model today.