Where We Are (and a Few Key Realizations)
Over the past several years, Enable has grown a vast and thriving network of trading collaboration on our rebate management platform. With more than 360,000 trading programs, 1 million relationships and $1 trillion in transactions on the platform to date, many businesses across the supply chain have found significant value in centralizing and collaborating on their rebate data in a convenient, cloud-based platform.
We’ve learned quite a bit over the course of our journey into rebate management, and we’ve come to some key realizations:
- The purpose of business itself is, ultimately, to serve customers. The massive $76 trillion that flows through various partners in the supply chain underscores the importance of delivering exceptional customer experiences. The question arises: How can we move closer to achieving vertical integration and seamlessly collaborate to serve customers better together?
- Rebates, once considered a necessary evil, have now emerged as powerful drivers of growth. Often, the total impact of rebates is not fully recognized between companies, leading to internal disconnects. As a customer once said to us, “Discounts are easily forgotten, but rebates are earned,” giving them an enduring psychological (as well as financial) value. This distinction becomes apparent when comparing pricing strategies in physical supply chains with those in digital spaces, such as Google Analytics.
- B2B incentive programs are gaining prevalence, and they are all forms of rebates! Through the guidance and feedback of this community, we have established a new definition of rebates. While a wide array of different terms from trade promotions to contract support to claimbacks are used to describe the same basic concept, it is essential to understand that any B2B transaction involving the flow of money or funds back through the supply chain can be classified as a rebate.
- Looking ahead, Enable’s vision for rebate management is to foster empowered partner ecosystems. Collaborative ecosystems benefit everyone involved, including customers, trading partners and the overall economy. By aligning interests and working collaboratively, these ecosystems can unlock significant value and drive mutual success.
It’s clear that rebates are gaining importance, but why now? What makes rebate management so critical to the strained collaborative trading network of the modern supply chain?
The Pivotal Role of Rebates
In the complex world of supply chains, the flow of goods and services from manufacturers to end customers involves a complex network of relationships. With over $76 trillion circulating through the supply chain, most B2B transactions rely on partnerships and collaboration. Whether you sit between a manufacturer and the end customer or supply an end customer through distribution, your business is dependent on these partnerships – and the currency that has emerged to fuel these partnerships and facilitate that crucial collaboration is rebates.
Rebates play a pivotal role in the supply chain, affecting the financials of manufacturers, distributors and retailers. They are strategic tools for driving desired behaviors, increasing profit margins, boosting sales and helping businesses grow. Rebates can support differentiated pricing through distribution and help businesses build (or rebuild) loyalty and trust with their trading partners.
For manufacturers, rebates often represent the largest cost on their profit and loss (P&L) statements. In some cases, rebates can exceed 100% of the profit for distributors and retailers, highlighting their importance to overall profitability. Given the magnitude of their impact, managing rebates effectively is a crucial task.
As the supply chain continues to strain against myriad external pressures, customer expectations continue to rise, driven in part by industry giants like Amazon. These companies have set a high bar in terms of customer experience and service. To meet these expectations, businesses need to develop collaborative trading strategies for mutual benefit. It’s crucial to align on strategic goals and seamlessly serve customers by breaking down the silos that often exist within and across companies.
Breaking Down Silos for Better Collaboration
Unfortunately, many organizations still operate within silos, hindering the potential for seamless collaboration. Separate conversations around purchasing, sales and finance create disjointed operations. For example, some buyers may be primarily incentivized based on the rebates they secure, while finance teams may neglect accruals and accounts receivable departments may receive funds without clear information on their origins. These siloed systems and practices can lead to inefficiencies and misunderstandings.
Many teams have their own tools and processes for managing their data, from spreadsheets to ERPs to paper filing systems – but managing shared data on disparate systems can lead to misalignment, inaccuracies, miscommunications and costly delays. When these issues occur between departments – commonly Purchasing, Finance and Sales – within a single organization, it is known as an Intra-Company Silo. However, things get worse when the problem is spread across two or more companies in what we call an Inter-Company Silo. Allowing an Inter-Company Silo to form can be extremely detrimental to the continued health of your trading relationships.
Navigating Complexity in the Rebate Landscape
Furthermore, rebate programs themselves are growing in volume and complexity. The tools available to businesses to serve customers better together include annual volume rebates, promotions and special pricing agreements (SPAs). These tools are designed to drive specific behaviors and improve customer experiences. However, executing these programs collectively can be challenging due to their intricacies.
Businesses find themselves at the center of a complex and evolving landscape, attempting to navigate the fog of responsibilities associated with rebate management. Rebates serve as the currency of partnerships critical to serving customers effectively. As customer expectations rise and the volume and complexity of rebate programs continue to grow, there is less room for error. To thrive in this environment, businesses must address the silos that hinder collaboration and find efficient ways to manage rebate programs.
The future of rebate management lies in breaking down silos, fostering collaboration and embracing innovative technologies that streamline processes and provide holistic visibility. By doing so, businesses can serve customers better, meet rising expectations and effectively navigate the evolving landscape of rebate programs.
A Collaborative Solution for Rebate Management
To address the myriad challenges of rebate management and foster effective collaboration, there exists a pressing need for a centralized and collaborative solution. Such a solution should be capable of supporting every type of rebate, consolidating rebate information both internally and externally. It should provide the flexibility to select partners with whom to share specific rebate data. Additionally, the solution should be capable of identifying the opportunities for mutual benefit. By incorporating these features, companies can execute rebate programs more efficiently and effectively, driving shared value for all stakeholders involved.
Centralized and collaborative rebate management platforms such as Enable address the critical needs of businesses by supporting every type of rebate and offering total flexibility to achieve strategic goals. With Enable, companies can personalize and incentivize specific behaviors to drive desired outcomes.
A truly effective rebate management solution should support every team and role within an organization, providing comprehensive support for every type of deal. It should also empower businesses to maintain control over their own data and calculations. By offering comprehensive support, total flexibility, as well as the ability to personalize and incentivize behaviors, Enable’s centralized rebate management platform is proving to be an indispensable tool for businesses seeking to optimize their rebate programs and drive mutual benefits.