Tradeshift Buy Does Away with Catalogs, Maverick Spend

By Susan Avery

September 30, 2015 at 5:08 AM

Tradeshift, the global network and platform that connects buyers and suppliers, introduced “a new corporate buying experience” at ProcureCon Indirect West in Phoenix recently. 

According to the company, Tradeshift® Buy is an all-in-one integrated solution designed to provide an “easy way for suppliers to add and manage catalogs, employees to buy easily what they need while following procurement policies, and for procurement to add strategic value to the organization.”   

In an interview with My Purchasing Center, Christian Lanng, CEO and Co-Founder, described discussions with procurement professionals to learn more about their challenges and Tradeshift’s intent to help alleviate these with Tradeshift Buy. He said that despite a prevalence of and promises of e-procurement systems, most procurement teams have little of their organization’s spend under management. They use different systems to buy different spend categories--direct, indirect, services. Their suppliers are not providing the catalog content they need. And they find it hard to collaborate with suppliers. 

Lanng said he wanted to design something that would solve these problems. “We really don’t want to call it procurement. It’s really about the act of buying.” 

TSBuy_product-list_desktop.jpgSo Tradeshift redesigned the buying experience, building it around search and collaboration and in the process moved away from the ideas of catalogs. A first result, a core of Tradeshift Buy, is Tradeshift Product Engine, a central searchable product database.

“In the buying experience, buyers don’t care about a catalog,” Lanng said. “They care about getting the stuff. So, we skipped the catalog, took it out of the interface and made it more into a marketplace. 

“How can a company like Amazon, and in procurement we like to talk about the front end of Amazon, on the back end get thousands of suppliers to provide items to their marketplace that most procurement solutions cannot?” The reason, he said, “is that the procurement software is complicated and providers charge suppliers to include their content. The solutions are not built to work for everyone.” Tradeshift does not charge suppliers a fee to include their content. 

In addition to Tradeshift Product Engine, other components of Tradeshift Buy are: 

  • Tradeshift Shop, a virtual store across a company’s suppliers and product  and services categories--a complete e-procurement tool. Says Lanng, “If you don’t blur categories and put everything into the same system, everything that follows is not really valuable. Your spend analytics is not really valuable.”
  • Tradeshift Buy Anywhere, which empowers requisitioners to buy across the Internet and stay within policy. As Lanng sees it, maverick buyers are not bad people, they have the good of the company in mind when they buy what they need to do their jobs even if it’s outside policy.  
  • Tradeshift Collaborate, a way to communicate with suppliers during the  buying process. “We see buying as a highly collaborative process, and in the future it’s only going to become more so as we buy more managed services and fewer products, Lanng said. As an example, he compares the buying of a car in the past to the buying of a transportation service from a company like Uber. “We (Procurement) will be buying outcomes. To figure out what that means, we need to collaborate with suppliers.”
  • Apps, a way to connects data and processes on the Tradeshift platform.

Lanng told My Purchasing Center a “first generation” of customers are up and running Tradeshift Buy and are collaborating with the company. Referring back to the disruption Tradeshift Buy is causing by allowing buyers to buy what they need to do their jobs, he pointed out that in the workplace the next generation, “the Millennials, want to be trusted. They don’t want to be micromanaged,” he said. “This is the future of business software.” Lanng added that Tradeshift plans announcements on additional new features this fall. 

View a live demo, Fixing the Broken Promise of eProcurement, on October 14 at 11 AM PDT. 


Tags: purchasing Supply chain management Procurement Technology sourcing
Category: News Article

Susan Avery


Susan Avery is Editor-in-Chief at My Purchasing Center. She writes articles, blogs and white papers and manages and creates other content for the online procurement and supply management publication. She produces and moderates roundtable discussions, podcasts, webcasts and video interviews. Susan has 30 years experience covering procurement and supply management for Purchasing magazine and 

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