We sat down with Roger Sutter, Group Treasurer at Kuehne + Nagel Management AG, to talk about the company’s award-winning Tradeshift Supply Chain Financing solution. Here are some highlights from the conversation and a video interview, which is a must watch for any finance department with Supply Chain Finance on their agenda in 2019.
Tradeshift: Why did Kuehne + Nagel launch a supply chain finance program?
Roger Sutter: Around six years ago we saw significant changes in our industry. Our customers were pushing out payment terms to cling onto their cash for as long as possible. While we accepted these new payment terms, our company couldn’t absorb the impact, so we had to push out our own payment terms.
We recognized this might cause disruption to our suppliers, especially some smaller names that face cash flow challenges. To avoid this, we deployed a Supply Chain Finance solution — it’s the perfect tool, enabling us to push out our payment terms while continuing to support our suppliers.
Tradeshift: What criteria did you have for your Supply Chain Finance program?
Roger Sutter: Convenience and speed. Our key objective was making sure cash reached our suppliers as quickly as possible without forcing them to make painful changes to their processes.
Tradeshift: Why did you select Tradeshift for your Supply Chain Financing?
Roger Sutter: We’d already deployed Tradeshift for e-invoicing, so many of our suppliers were using the platform to submit invoices. So it made sense to channel financing through the same platform. This meant our suppliers could submit invoices and opt-in for financing without having to use an alternative platform and breaking process — delivering the speed and convenience we sought.
We also benefited. By using Tradeshift for all our supply chain processes we’ve consolidated all our supplier data into one place. This gives us a single source of truth to work from and makes it easier to manage and monitor our supply chain.
Tradeshift: Did you face any challenges launching the program?
Roger Sutter: Yes. It was hard to find a bank to provide financing. Back in 2015 many banks were unwilling to partner with a Fintech like Tradeshift because they didn’t want to share information with a third-party or just wanted you to use their own solution. Thankfully, Citi was different. They were very forward thinking and happy to partner with Tradeshift to deliver the solution. And I think most banks have realised that collaboration with Fintechs is the way forward. I don’t think other companies would have similar trouble bringing funders on board.
Tradeshift: Six years on, what benefits has the solution delivered?
Roger Sutter: Since it first launched, the solution’s gone from strength to strength. We’re now live in 14 countries and over 300 suppliers are enjoying the benefits of early payment. We’ve certainly achieved all the objectives we set out initially and more. The focus is now on ramping up the solution, rolling it out in more markets and to new suppliers.