Many organisations have difficulty managing orders across their own internal business units, let alone across a complex network of trading partners. But distributed supply chains are a fact of life for companies that outsource manufacturing and distribution, source components from third-party suppliers, or sell through multiple channels.
These are the companies that Yantra, an order and inventory management software specialist, targets with its Yantra Distributed Commerce Management (DCM) suite. "For many of our customers, 60% or more of operational costs are generated by decisions and relationships which occur outside the enterprise," explains Dave O'Connor, marketing and alliances director for Yantra in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Yantra's software, he says, provides these companies – and their trading partners – with a single view of orders and inventory that spans "the extended supply chain".
Founded in Boston in 1995, US-based Yantra established European operations in mid-2000, and its seven-person sales team has so far won four customers in the region: timber company DHL Group, supply chain consultancy Scio, retail chain Argos, and Reality, the outsourcing services arm of UK retail group GUS. By the end of 2002, says O'Connor, the company hopes to add 12 more European customers.
This is likely to be a tough challenge. Yantra's software is expensive; the company charges a minimum licence fee of $750,000, and its average deal size is around $1.4 million. Prospective customers in Europe – which continues to lag the US in the uptake of collaborative commerce technologies – will need to be sure that their supply chain partners will trade with them electronically if they are to proceed with such a significant investment at a time when IT budgets are constrained. Moreover, other supply chain specialists are targeting order and inventory management, among them market leader i2 Technologies, which launched its order management product in early 2001.