Written by Ardent Partners Analyst Matthew York
The Ardent Partners team recently participated in a briefing with the executive team at Aquiire to get a general update on the company, its recent successes from the first quarter of 2018, and the general direction of its solutions and strategy for the rest of the year. On the interview were Mike Palackdharry, President and CEO, Tulsi Zeidman, Head of Strategic Solutions, Kevin Smith, VP Marketing and Alliances, Sundar Kadayam, Chief Strategy Officer, Mark Reed, Chief Technology Officer, Paulie Anthony, Director of Marketing, and Derek Ensinger, a Solutions Consultant.
2017 Update and 2018-2019 Roadmap
According to company officials, Aquiire registered its best sales year under the Aquiire brand, following its rebrand from Vinimaya in late 2016 and launch of its titular, “flagship” real-time procure-to-pay (P2P) platform. In 2017, Aquiire up-sold most of its legacy customers to this more robust business solution. Company officials predict that they will move almost all of their legacy customers to Aquiire P2P by the end of 2018, and that they will likely be able to sunset their old Vinimaya marketplace solution by the end of 2019.
In the meantime, company executives continue to heavily invest in their P2P solution, including their patented buying, catalog, search, and analytics capabilities. They are also “co-developing,” with their customers, “other parts of P2P,” like eProcurement and real-time analytics, to rethink the traditional P2P business model. From there, Aquiire officials intend to build out potential use cases for applying eProcurement to other, more strategic parts of B2B operations. And based on customer feedback, Aquiire is revisiting its mobile application and capabilities around services procurement. For all other facets of P2P, Aquiire will either continue to work with its customers or with other solution providers to expand platform capabilities.
Aquiire executives were upfront with us in that they are taking a different approach to pursue key markets. Rather than follow what they believe is a trend towards developing a full source-to-pay solution, Aquiire officials decided to stick with what they do well: P2P. As a result, in Q2 of 2018, they intend to further develop Aquiire’s marketplace in terms of catalog management, real-time mobile B2B e-commerce shopping and eProcurement and continue to bring P2P to large corporations, government organizations and higher-educational institutions, which will likely take them into Q3.
While Other P2P Providers Punch Out, Aquiire Punches In
In addition to employing federated search and guided buying capabilities, the Aquiire platform features an automated workflow, what it calls “punch in” (versus punch out), that allows users to search, simultaneously punch out to all external e-commerce catalogs, return real-time results into their private marketplace, and then punch back into the system to check out. It brings real-time pricing and product information into the system (by searching all supplier e-commerce websites at the same time) rather than having them “punch out” for that information. This requires limited user setup on behalf of the supplier. “No one else can do that – it’s patented,” company officials said. There are over 400 relationships with suppliers that have this capability within the system. “This is the stuff that makes us different,” they said, adding that “we’re building [these capabilities] into the three different markets to drive differentiation.”
With real-time pricing information, users can quickly see price fluctuations on a particular commodity or from a particular supplier (due to shifts in seasons demand, for example), and take advantage of the dynamic nature of the market. Aquiire’s customers have been able to save an additional 7% – 20% (i.e., beyond the negotiated price) as a result of leveraging real-time pricing information, competitive shopping and alternative supplier pricing (lower-priced suppliers for the same product at checkout) on its P2P tool. Aquiire also captures this pricing data in its Savings Analysis Tool. Using purchase order data, it can demonstrate to its customers the differences in pricing year-over-year to show realized savings or missed savings. Aquiire is increasingly marketing this capability to users, with the message that it has been able to save its customers another 12-20% by doing a competitive pricing analysis for better supplier negotiations.
Utilizing these real-time search and shopping technologies, Aquiire’s customers are transforming the traditional indirect procurement business model of consolidating their supply base to a smaller set of key strategic suppliers. Instead, they are bringing more suppliers, GPOs and third-party e-commerce providers into their private marketplaces and employing both competitive (lowest-priced suppliers) and compliant (strategic guided buying) purchasing strategies to capture competitive savings on their indirect and long-tail spend.
Aquiire holds patents covering a Method and System for Providing Online Procurement Between a Buyer and Suppliers over a Network (US7756750), Integration of Buy-Side Procurement with Web-Enabled Remote Multi-Format Catalog Sources (US 9070164) and Methods and Systems for Integrating Procurement Systems with Electronic Catalogs (US 9996863). Aquiire has several other patent applications pending.
Other features of Aquiire’s P2P solution include a single, standard interface that enables user personalization, data visualization capabilities, as well as data drill-down capability to go from a header-level view of the data to a granular one. Recently, Aquiire developers have added Quick Form accessibility in the Search Results page, Quick Find, and Search Word Intelligence (i.e., “Did you mean…?”). They have also added the ability for users to share their carts, export their purchases, and request and receive automated approvals. Catalog approval and multi-supplier catalogs are available, as is tiered pricing. Other enhancements include contract feature upgrades, the ability to receive price rebates, an improved user interface for receiving quotes, item options displays on product pages, enhancements to p-cards, both supplier and product reviews and the addition of Aquiire metrics (i.e., Competitive Savings Report and Actionable Analytics). Aquiire is in the first phase of integrating these metrics, and ought to feature more as 2018 rolls on).
According to Aquiire executives, their “key customer collaborative initiatives” are driving a lot of its development work for 2018, including its push to provide users with a “punch in” P2P experience that leverages real-time pricing information and provides a universal shopping experience, whether users are in the desktop version or the mobile application. They expect to deploy an updated mobile app, as well as continue their push towards large enterprises into the third quarter of 2018. Aquiire believes there are vast amounts of untapped savings in B2B eProcurement that can only be realized with real-time capabilities, and they are focused on bringing those insights to their customers.