Supply Chain Finance is the optimization of both the availability and cost of capital within a supply chain. The availability and cost of capital is usually optimized through the aggregation, integration, packaging, and utilization of all of the relevant information generated in the supply chain in conjunction with cost analysis, cost management, and various supply chain finance strategies.
There are four primary types of players in supply chain finance. There is the buyer, the supplier, the technology provider, and the financing institution. Buyers are the primary drivers of supply chain finance. As the builder of brands, and associated advertising campaigns, they are largely responsible for shaping consumer demand for the products they wish to sell. Suppliers are the primary beneficiaries of supply chain finance. Technology Providers are the enablers of supply chain finance and financing institutions play the role of lender and offer varies types of financing including Global Asset Based Lending, inventory financing, and insurance.
Although often associated with early payment discounting, supply chain finance also includes cash-flow forecasting, inventory optimization, customer relationship management, and process improvements to lower a supplier's operating costs and cash-flow needs. Strategies employed will include open accounts and letters of credit, early payment and dynamic discounting, inventory optimization, and advanced working capital techniques. Benefits to buyers will include off-balance sheet financing,
more payment flexibility, and more control over the procure-to-pay cycle while benefits to suppliers will include below market financing rates, reduced cash-flow uncertainty, and more on-demand access to funding.
For more details, benefits, and strategies for success, see the supply chain finance primer and the following posts.