In a PRO research brief published earlier, I analyzed the implications of Coupa’s recently announced partnership with Alibaba.com, including what it could signal for Coupa’s strategy of working with potential other supplier directory and listing partners. While the marketing value of these relationships is usually strong, there’s actually quite a bit of work behind the scenes (e.g., mapping part numbers and taxonomies) to make them work in practice.
Here are the basics of the deal, according to Coupa’s press release: “In addition to the over 800,000 suppliers currently using Coupa, the agreement provides Coupa customers with an easy way to find and source from suppliers on Alibaba.com. Coupa customers will have immediate, easy access to millions of additional global suppliers from Alibaba.com while Alibaba.com suppliers will have additional reach into Coupa customers headquartered in over 40 countries.”
Further, Coupa claims that Alibaba will be tightly integrated from a search perspective with its source-to-pay capabilities. Specifically, “Coupa users will be able to search, connect, and do business with Alibaba.com’s millions of global suppliers from within Coupa.”
This is not a simple partnership to analyze. Nor should we look at it in isolation from a Coupa perspective.
As I wrote in the PRO analysis:
No doubt, Coupa is doing the right thing by partnering to expand its integrations with third-party directories and catalogs. But the spend devil is always in the search and catalog details in such activities. Moreover, the partnership that would truthfully be more valuable for many customers would be a tight integration and relationship between Coupa and Amazon (including AmazonSupply and Amazon’s merchants). ProcServe, a public-sector marketplace and eProcurement provider in the UK, recently did such a deal with Amazon. We suspect Amazon would have even more to gain from working with Coupa in a similar capacity.
Other companies, including ThomasNet, IHS/GlobalSpec, MacRae's, Global Sources, and TradeIndia, would be useful for Coupa to partner with as well to expand the value proposition for its customers. In the meantime, Spend Matters PRO subscribers can read Coupa and Alibaba.com -- Partnership Analysis and Implications.
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