FAQ - Buyers
1) How do I join Polaris?
The process of joining Polaris is fully digital, as is the entire interaction between the user and the platform.
It is, however, only the final step in the wider process of investigating the operational possibilities of Polaris and of focusing the opportunities it offers in relation to the Buyer's objectives and the structure of its supply chain.
Once the perimeter of use of the platform has been established (which segment of suppliers to involve), the sources of liquidity to be used have been identified (use of own or third party liquidity) and, consequently, the instruments to be activated (dynamic discounting and/or assignment of claims), the accession takes place through an onboarding process of the Buyer and its users, which ends with the signing of the accession agreement.
In parallel with the described path, there is a technical path aimed at making the integration between Buyer's ERP SAP and Polaris operative or, if the Buyer uses an ERP different from SAP, the definition of the ERP/Polaris integration methods.
2) How much does it cost to join Polaris?
Joining Polaris involves a recurring cost, consisting of an annual fee for the use of the platform. The amount of the fee is determined in function of the integration effort and the volume of commercial payables passing through the platform.
3) What benefits will Polaris bring to my organisation?
Polaris is an instrument that allows the Buyer to separate the management of the financial relationship with its suppliers from the commercial and operational one, neutralising its effects. What does this mean? Activating a supply chain finance programme on Polaris means that the supplier has the assurance of being paid when he needs it - and in any case within the maximum term agreed with the Buyer - without using his own credit facilities to finance himself. The relationship with the Buyer is therefore neutralised, in terms of impact on the supplier's financial equilibrium, who can focus on the other key elements of the relationship (improvement of performance, increase in sales). All this translates into supplier loyalty and reduced vulnerability of the supply chain as a whole and its potential impact on the Buyer's production processes and business.
4) Do you have to approve my suppliers before I join Polaris?
No. Approval of suppliers is subsequent to Buyer's accession and is done directly by the financial partners who will ensure the liquidity of Buyer's supply chain finance programmes, primarily based on the outcome of the assessment against AML/CFT risks.
5) In my organisation, who will need to be trained to use the platform?
The definition of the users who will operate on Polaris depends on the organisational choices of the Buyer. Typically, the definition of the financial aspects of supply chain finance programmes is carried out by the finance department; the selection of suppliers to be involved is carried out by the purchasing department and the settlement processes are the responsibility of the accounts payable and treasury departments. In practice, only the first activity necessarily has to be carried out on the platform, while all others can be directly performed within the company ERP, which will then communicate with Polaris.
6) What impact will it have on the IT structure of my organisation?
The impact is different depending on the context. For Buyers using SAP ERP, a software component managing the SAP/Polaris dialogue must be installed and configured. For Buyers using different ERPs, the integration process needs to be defined, typically through the exchange of structured information flows. In both cases the definition of the communication channel and the management of the related security will have to be analysed.
7) What are my payment terms towards the supplier if I use Polaris?
Payment terms are always established in agreement with the supplier. Polaris does not influence in any way the choices of the parties, but only provides the instruments to manage this type of agreements, which can have different structures (a fixed term rather than a flexible term between a minimum and a maximum) and different financial profiles (application or not of deferral interest payable by the Buyer).
8) What benefits will my suppliers have?
Suppliers included in supply chain finance programmes will have the possibility to obtain the payment of their invoices at any time, by simple request made on Polaris, up to the final due date agreed between the parties. This, without having to request or use credit facilities in their name, nor registering any financial debt against the possible advance payment, with a substantial improvement of the liquidity ratios of their balance sheet.
9) What are the costs for suppliers to join Polaris?
Suppliers have no cost of accession to Polaris, but only pay a commission on the use of liquidity on the platform (normally between 0.1% and 0.2% of the value of transacted invoices).
10) How long does it take for the supply chain finance programme to function properly?
The programme starts operating as soon as all participants (Buyers, suppliers and financial partners) have joined the platform. From the moment the Buyer has completed its onboarding and started to feed Polaris, it can take a couple of weeks for suppliers to join and financial partners to accept them. It is, in any case, an ongoing process.
11) What support will we get from the Polaris team?
The Polaris team is available to all participants to help them through the onboarding process and provide support at every stage of operations. In particular, the team collects any malfunctioning reports, supports the identification of the causes and addresses its resolution. The team is also available to cooperate in the definition of Buyer initiatives and their "translation" into Polaris operations.
12) How is Polaris different from other platforms?
The main difference is the shared contractual architecture, which also allows information and processes to be shared, avoiding the replication of worthless activities (e.g. the replication of onboarding for each individual financial partner). The adhesion to Polaris is a key factor in the relationship towards all other adherents. From Buyer's point of view, Polaris is an instrument that allows to manage supply chain finance programmes autonomously, without devolving management to individual financial partners and, therefore, without creating structural dependencies on those partners.