Is e-procurement getting specialized by industry? BlueCart, which launched in July of 2014 as an online ordering platform for small restaurant chefs, owners and buyers in the foodservice industry, is proof of the increasing specialization of different procure-to-pay (P2P) vendors and business models in targeting specific market segments. Incidentally, BlueCart is also an example of a platform-based model built from the ground up to also serve a specific ecosystem — including, in this case, the distributors and sales representatives that manage customer relationships.
Yet where BlueCart differs from the majority of non-specialized P2P and e-procurement providers — aside from offering restaurant-specific capabilities — is in its business model. BlueCart’s core requisitioning capability is free to those placing orders and it has decided that revenue will come from advertising and subscriptions to more advanced functionality (e.g., inventory management and spend analysis). This is similar to the freemium subscription models offered by big-name B2C platforms (like LinkedIn) that restaurant owners and buyers are familiar with.
Judging by its growth numbers to date, the model is working, despite the challenging and often unique dynamics of the restaurant business, including those that govern supplier and distributor relationships. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores BlueCart and its unique approach to P2P and the restaurant supply chain, providing facts and expert analysis to help organizations decide if they should use the provider’s free or premium capabilities. It also provides lessons learned for e-procurement in other industries centered on the value of vertical-specific P2P capabilities. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company and detailed solution overview and a SWOT analysis, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for what types of organizations should consider BlueCart. The remaining parts of this multipart series will offer a user selection guide, user interface (UI/UX) analysis, competitive alternatives and evaluation and selection considerations.