Every service or solution provider has their USP – their unique selling point that makes them stand out from the crowd. But in reality, when you take a group of similar vendors, they’re actually not that different. Electronic invoicing is just like that. To the seasoned professionals there’s a world of a difference between the numerous vendors but to the end user – the ones whose views really count – they’re all the same. So it’s actually quite exciting to find an e-invoicing solution provider that really is a little bit different.
Consider this: They’re not disruptive. That’s right. A start up that doesn’t claim to be disruptive. In fact they have made a virtue of being positively non-disruptive. They are about as non-disruptive as it’s possible to get. That’s quite a challenge – getting suppliers who operate in a paper based world to deal with their customers electronically without demanding they change anything they do. Suppliers like that and suppliers also like that fact that CloudTrade don’t charge them. This is part of the reason that CloudTrade have doubled in size for two consecutive years but to understand the whole story behind CloudTrade’s success, you need to understand their secret sauce – the unique way they approach the market.
CloudTrade recognize that the biggest obstacle to getting e-invoicing to pay-off is getting suppliers to adopt. And that’s what inspires their three business principles:
- Don’t ask the supplier to change their applications or infrastructure to send XML or EDI
- Don’t ask them to raise their invoice in their own accounting package and then do it all over again in a 3rd party portal
- Don’t charge them
These principles create a compelling proposition for suppliers. But this isn’t CloudTrade’s secret sauce. The real secret behind CloudTrades growth is that they don’t actually have customers.
Consider this: e-invoicing is rarely, if ever, implemented as a standalone project. Normally it would be part of a wider program of AP automation or Purchase to Pay. It’s tempting for solution providers to build functionality to meet the broader requirements of their customers in order to address their customers’ wider project needs. That can work but it can also lead a vendor down the path of trying to be all things to all men. CloudTrade had avoided that. Rather than solve the whole AP automation problem they have specialized. All they do is make it easy to adopt e-invoicing. Nothing else. And while that appeals to suppliers, it appeals even more to the complimentary solution providers – the e-proc vendors and even the e-invoicing and EDI service providers. CloudTrade don’t have customers – they have partners, and they are making their partners successful by solving the supplier adoption dilemma.
This is the secret sauce. There is actually quite a lot of very sophisticated technology under the hood of CloudTrade but nobody is really interested in that. A good product is a product that customers want. Nobody wants XML. Nobody wants portals. Nobody really wants e-invoicing. What businesses want is a legally compliant way of reducing the cost of doing business and what P2P solution providers want is high adoption rates. That is what CloudTrade delivers.
Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin