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Buy vs Build - Vendor Portal for Grocery Retailers/Wholesalers


When it comes to streamlining supplier collaboration, grocery retailers and wholesalers still have a long way to go. Many grocers have nothing at all.  Others have legacy, custom systems, or primitive applications that are behind the times and attempt to solve specific use cases.  


While the vendor portal market has numerous generic suppliers, Simplain is the only one with deep and dedicated functionality dedicated for the Wholesale & Retail Grocers. Many customers are still unaware of Simplain or opt for custom development despite the many pitfalls. In the early days of applications custom development was prevalent because off the shelf systems lacked key functionality and depth. That is rarely the case today and certainly not the case with Simplain.  If you look at just the list of modules, the development required for a custom portal is a multiyear endeavor.


Modules in Simplain Vendor Portal
Modules in Simplain Vendor Portal

By the time custom development is completed it will still be many years behind the off the shelf offering from Simplain. We acknowledge that many customers still want some enhancements and we are willing and able to accommodate those needs. 



Why should you Buy vs going down the Build path?


Time and Cost Savings

Building a vendor portal from scratch is a complex undertaking that requires a significant investment of time and financial resources. Development teams must dedicate countless months to designing, coding, testing, supporting, and refining the code. Additionally, the process often involves unexpected delays and setbacks, further prolonging the timeline and increasing costs. How many development projects have you seen that meet timelines, functionality, and budget?  History tells us that is quite rare, probably a unicorn in most large projects, especially technology development. In contrast, purchasing a vendor portal eliminates the need for lengthy development cycles and allows businesses to deploy a fully functional solution in a fraction of the time. By opting for a pre-built solution like Simplain Vendor Portal, businesses can save valuable resources and accelerate their time-to-market.


Example: A Retail or Wholesale Grocer that is looking to improve its vendor collaboration processes. By choosing to purchase Simplain Vendor Portal they can leverage industry best practices already built into the solution for pennies on the dollar.  They can also be up and live years before a custom application could be built.


Expertise and Reliability:

Building a vendor portal internally requires businesses to rely on their internal IT teams to design, develop, and maintain the system. However, this approach can be fraught with challenges. Internal IT has typically already been overburdened with projects and support duties.  Vendor Portal is different from other internal systems because it is an external-facing application with inherent security risks and the software needs to be built for a large community of external users whom they have no access to during the development process. 


In short, many of the internal teams may lack the exposure to the total functional market needs and requirements.  They are usually expected to be experts across numerous systems such as POS, ERP, eCommerce and more.  Expecting specialized expertise and experience across a vendor portal system developed internally is normally a bridge too far. 


Building a vendor portal from scratch carries inherent risks, including potential gaps in security, scalability, and compatibility. In contrast, purchasing a vendor portal from a reputable provider like Simplain offers businesses access to a wealth of expertise and industry best practices. With years of experience in developing and optimizing vendor collaboration solutions, vendors like Simplain can provide businesses with a reliable, secure, and fully functional platform.


Example: We have seen multiple cases where Retail and Wholesale Grocers end up abandoning their vendor portal due to lack of functionality.  Many of those have come back to us and implemented Simplain because we had the additional capabilities they needed to make the portal effective.  We also have enough staff that turnover does not negatively impact institutional knowledge. 


Comprehensive Feature Set

Simplain’s Vendor portal offers a comprehensive suite of features designed to address the complex needs of modern businesses. From onboarding, item introduction, DSD, invoicing, trade fund management, and more.  By purchasing a vendor portal, businesses gain access to a wealth of features that is usually both impossible and cost prohibitive to replicate in-house. A key advantage of using specialized solutions such as Simplain Vendor Portal is that our customers and end users benefit from features they never envisaged. Simplain continuously updates and enhances their products to meet the evolving needs of their customers, ensuring that businesses always have access to the latest features and capabilities. In 2024, Simplain added a series of generative AI features to the solution to increase productivity and improve ease of use. 


Example: Most custom or legacy portals only contain a few of the nine standard modules, never mind the fact that they don’t have R&D to add new things like AI.  We allow customers to pick and choose modules they need, so they only deploy what makes sense and is budget today.  That leaves the ability to grow into the other areas if and when the need arises. 


Scalability

As businesses grow and evolve, their vendor collaboration needs may change. Simplain vendor portal is currently running in Microsoft Azure.  Purchasing Simplain Vendor Portal provides businesses with virtually unlimited scalability. Unlike custom-built solutions, which may struggle to accommodate future growth and changes in business requirements, pre-built vendor portals like Simplain Vendor Portal are designed to scale and evolve alongside businesses. The modular architecture of these platforms allows businesses to add or remove features as needed, ensuring a tailored solution that meets their evolving requirements.


Example: Imagine you are a startup in the e-commerce sector that is experiencing rapid growth. By choosing to purchase Simplain Vendor Portal, the company is able to easily scale its operations as it expands into new markets and onboard new vendors. The platform's modular architecture allows the company to add new features and functionalities as needed, ensuring that it can continue to meet the evolving needs of its business.


Support and Maintenance:

Building a vendor portal from scratch means internal IT assuming full responsibility for ongoing support and maintenance.  A typical vendor portal solution has anywhere from hundreds to thousands of end users. It is important to service these vendors with a software and support model that keep the retailer/wholesaler’s brand name intact.


This can be a daunting task, as it requires businesses to dedicate resources to troubleshooting issues, applying updates, and ensuring the security and stability of the system. In contrast, purchasing a vendor portal from a reputable provider like Simplain comes with dedicated support services and regular updates. 



Example: Help Desk and Internal IT has to support a very large number of systems.  The help desks and in some entities the IT staff directly have to triage the open issues and there will always be someone dissatisfied with the level of service.  At Simplain we can offer both Level 1 and Level 2 support options.  This means you can reduce the burden on your internal help desk and IT staff to the level that works best for you. This will improve your level of service and employee satisfaction with IT.  


Integration and Compatibility:

Simplain Vendor portal offers bidirectional integration with existing systems and workflows to maximize efficiency. Simplain also offers seamless integration with popular ERP systems, and third-party applications, reducing the risk of compatibility issues and ensuring a smooth and hassle-free implementation process. By purchasing a vendor portal that integrates seamlessly with their existing systems, businesses can minimize disruptions to their operations and maximize the value of their investment.


Example: Integration is a key component of any Vendor Portal.  Simplain’s standardized API’s and expertise with integration are a core competency repeated over and over, where practice makes perfect.  Internal IT staff only do this occasionally and therefore are likely to be slower. They may or may not be aware of the most efficient options or the potential pitfalls inherent in integration work. We are able to perform the work faster, and with greater certainty, because of the extensive expertise and experience in this area.    


Summary


To conclude, While the prospect of building a vendor portal on the surface sometimes seems enticing, the reality is quite different.  Simplain’s Vendor Portal offers numerous advantages in terms of time savings, cost, expertise, reliability, comprehensive features, scalability, support, and maintenance. By investing in Simplain Vendor Portal, businesses can streamline vendor collaboration, reduce costs, and accelerate their path to success. In today's fast-paced business environment, choosing the right vendor portal is not just a strategic decision – it's a crucial step towards achieving operational excellence and remaining competitive.


"Why Build when you can Buy!"


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