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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
The discussion differentiating between supplier portals and a true business network is not new. However, the definitions have blurred in many ways through marketing and vendors positioning their solutions against each other.

This blog lists the 3 key differences between a supplier portal and a business network, and the advantages of a true business network. Before getting into the details, there is one thing to make clear: SAP Business Network is a true business network. The following sections below will also explain how a business network benefits both buyers and suppliers over portals.

1. Improved efficiency and standardization with many-to-many connections vs one-to-one

In a true business network, buyers and suppliers only need to onboard once and they can connect to many other organizations that are already on the network. This means that your suppliers only create and maintain one company profile, one set of business assessments, one account number and one set of credentials for every customer they are connected to on the network.  For high-volume suppliers who transact thousands of documents per year, they can integrate the network directly with their back-end systems. They now have one channel for clean, standardized data to process transactions from multiple customers. This improves supplier adoption and helps them be more responsive to their customers' business needs.

Now, let's compare this to a supplier portal. A supplier portal will have a one-to-one connection. This means that your suppliers need to have individual connections with each one of their customers and maintain separate sets of details. Apart from the tedious task of maintaining different sets of details for individual connections, oftentimes, some platforms will require users to log in and out of different accounts to transact with different customers.

2. Faster time to value with suppliers that have already adopted the network

SAP Business Network has over 2 million transacting suppliers. If you're new to the network and are looking to onboard your vendor database, the likelihood that a number of your suppliers are already on the network is quite high. Our value advisory team does a "supplier match" for new customers, taking their vendor list and matching it up against the suppliers registered on the network. On average, the match rate is 50%.

50% is a significant number, it means your supplier onboarding and enablement project scope is reduced by half and you only have to onboard the vendors that aren't yet on the network. SAP has a robust supplier enablement community to ensure your suppliers are successfully onboarded and ready to transact with you on the network. Ultimately, you can achieve faster time to value the sooner your suppliers adopt onto the network.

3. Broaden your supplier base with a true B2B marketplace

Given the size of the supplier base on SAP Business Network, you have access to a database of verified companies should you need to find alternate sources of supply. Customers can use the trading partner search functionality to search for suppliers by commodity code, service locations and more. You can further filter by availability of certificates and sustainability criteria to find suppliers who align with your business goals. Once you have identified a shortlist, you can easily contact and connect with the supplier on SAP Business Network.

In addition to trading partner search, customers can also post sourcing opportunities through SAP Ariba Discovery or access network catalogs through Spot Buy. The point is, as a customer on SAP Business Network, you have access to a wider reach of potential partners beyond your existing vendor database. With the recent challenges with supply chain disruptions, it doesn’t hurt to have a solution that will help you find new suppliers immediately if you need to.


Learn more about SAP Business Network on sap.com