Vendor Portals in the Supply Chain

A vendor, or supplier portal, is an interface in which suppliers and other members of the supply chain can easily communicate between each other. In contrast to most traditional business interactions, which may be done through email or phone calls, vendor portals offer a set of unique benefits. A few of the benefits gained by introducing a vendor portal include:


Broader Supplier Enablement

A comprehensive portal enables suppliers to automate routine supply chain execution transactions including purchase orders, ship notices and commercial invoices. Although EDI (electronic data integration) can achieve many of the same effects, smaller businesses struggle to find the resources, budget and in-house expertise to implement a full-scale EDI system. Portals fill this role for smaller businesses, where anyone with a PC and an internet connection can connect to a portal with minimal training and investment. As a result, the barrier to entry for e-commerce is drastically lower with a vendor supplier portal.

New Business Process Automation

Portals enable a new group of business processes such as strategic sourcing, collaborative design and demand planning to be automated. Historically, these processes occurred over the phone, via e-mail correspondence or in face-to-face meetings. While these traditional methods got the job done, they were very resource and time intensive. Due to their complex nature these supply chain practices were usually too sophisticated to automate through machine-to-machine transactions. By moving these processes online, portals reduce not only the cost of these transactions, but the latency of information sharing and the barriers to adoption.

Supplier Self-Service

Portals offer a lens into the buyer’s ERP system. Inquiries that would have been conducted via a time-consuming game of phone tag are instead performed instantaneously over the internet. For example, a high percentage of the call volume to accounts payable organizations is from collections personnel in the supplier organization attempting to determine when an invoice will be paid. Often this creates no value for the company other than collecting what they are already owed. Portals offer the ability for suppliers to perform self-service inquiries online whenever they need to know the status of an expected payment. 

Collaborative Processes

Portals provide both the supplier and buyer a single, shared view of data. Historically, personnel from the buyer and the supplier each viewed data in their own business applications, which were usually out of sync with the current data. With portals, both the supplier and the buyer share a common view of data such as delivery time and performance scorecards. This newfound visibility enables the two parties to collaborate on corrective actions to improve overall supply chain performance.

Change Management

Supply chains are constantly changing. Buyers open up new distribution centers, manufacturing plants and retail stores, which changes routing guides. As business process re-engineering occurs, new and improved forecasting, purchasing, labeling, shipping and invoicing procedures are introduced. Portals provide an online resource for buyers to communicate changes to the supplier community. Historically, these changes had to be communicated to each supplier through direct mail, phone conversations or vendor conferences.

TPSynergy provides an easy to use instant vendor portal that scales to the size of your business. Contact us today to schedule a free demo.