Archive for November, 2009

TOY SAFETY

Monday, November 30th, 2009

During this season of giving it is important for Manufacturers that makes toys, Retailers that sell toys and the consumers that are buying these toys to refresh their memories as to child safety laws. These laws can be broken down into a number of areas that include but certainly are not limited to choking hazards, chemical content and noise restrictions.

There are several sources for this information and most companies that manufacture and sell toys have statements relating to the safety of those toys. A good source to begin your search is the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you visit their website, they have a cool tool that allows you to Find CPSC Product Safety Standards or Guidance relative to a wealth of products. By selecting the drop down for toys/children products all, you can navigate to a number of documents that spell out required safety standards. You can also follow the CPSC on Twitter or receive and rss feeds of their product recalls.

This author is particularly concerned about choking hazards with the number of small give away products that come to the market during the holidays. The standards that these products should adhere to are also listed on this site.

A new tool I was just reading about for the tech savvy is a site called www.toysafety.mobi that is ideally suited to provide up to date inforamtion for consumers with mobile computing technology such as iphones and blackberry devices.

For retailers, your e-procurement solutions provider should also be able to provide you with a lot of this information.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments .

Thanksgiving is really a story of a supply chain found and developed!

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

One hundred and two pilgrims and crew arrived in Massachusetts after a 3,000 mile trip from England on the Mayflower. It is safe to say that as a result of that distance there was no existing supply chain to leverage, so one had to be developed and quickly. This began with basic hunting and gathering and later included trading with the areas indigenous peoples known as the Wampanoag’s for corn, seed and foraging and planting techniques.

The Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today really stems from the feast held in the autumn of 1621. Since the pilgrims had only arrived on November 21st of 1620 they had really not been there long enough to develop a fully reliable and renewable supply source. They had however established collaborative relationships with the local Wampanoag people who became regular trading partners and who helped them celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest.

The most detailed description of the “First Thanksgiving” comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621:”Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.

The fowl referred to above certainly could have included a wide range of fowl that was plentiful in the area such as wild turkey, pheasant, goose, duck, and partridge and unfortunately by today’s standards even eagles.

The pilgrims probably didn’t have pies or much of anything sweet at the harvest feast because they did not yet have ovens. They had brought some sugar with them on the Mayflower but by the time of the first Thanksgiving, the supply had probably run out.

Their meals also included many different types of meats. Vegetable dishes, one of the staples of today’s Thanksgiving, didn’t really play a large part in the feast. Other items that may have been on the menu certainly included sea food such as clams and lobster, Indian corn, wild fruits and nuts, meats such as venison and seal and certain dry herbs and spices.

The Thanksgiving meal that has today become a national holiday is a symbol of supply chain cooperation and interaction between English colonists and Native Americans.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP)

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a number of programs that as a result of government use offer companies a great opportunity to educate themselves in support of their social responsibility initiatives.

One of those programs, the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) helps the federal government “buy green,” and in doing so, uses the federal government’s enormous buying power to stimulate market demand for green products and services. Geared first to help federal purchasers, this site can help green vendors, businesses large and small — and consumers. Use the easy index to:

• Find and evaluate information about green products and services;
• Identify federal green buying requirements;
• Calculate the costs and benefits of purchasing choices;
• Manage green purchasing processes.

The U.S. EPA website www.epa.gov contains a wealth of information relative to finding and evaluating green products in any number of categories from construction to office supplies. If you truly review and evaluate the green portion of your company or individual social consciousness regularly the U.S. EPA site is a great place to start.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

SafeSourcing Announces New Software Version 1.5

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

SafeSourcing is pleased to announce the simultaneous launch of our industry leading SafeSourceIt ™ e-procurement software suite upgrades – Releases 1.4 and 1.5.

Releases 1.4 and 1.5, which are now in full production, offer many advanced tools that enhance support of the procurement practices of retail procurement professionals and their suppliers. The new releases allow for faster event setup for administrators in addition to a number of powerful new features that include:

• Flexible quote capability for suppliers
• Automated supplier management and tracking
• Improved supplier search capability
• Increase in the number of countries and suppliers that are included in the SafeSourceIt™ retail supplier database

According to SafeSourcing CEO Ron Southard, “These releases allow us to run more e-negotiation events over a shorter period of time by significantly reducing the amount of time required of a SafeSourcing customer service associate to build and host an event. Additionally, suppliers benefit because it takes less time to enter and react to bid data in optimizing their offers.”

SafeSourcing provides information and services to customers through e-procurement tools that drive reduced costs, higher quality and an immediate improvement in earnings while pro-actively supporting consumer safety and environmental standards in the global supply chain.
Releases 1.4 and 1.5 support the SafeSourcing mission to provide disruptive technology for retail procurement professionals, continually refreshing its solutions as requests for change are received and tool optimization is required by the retail industry.

We look forward to and appreacite your comments.

Retailers; is your sourcing transparent enough?

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

As such, if you are not sourcing at least 30% of your cost of goods and services with these tools, you are lagging the leaders in your industry and well behind other industries. Resultantly you are not getting the best costs and not driving the best margins for your company.

Reverse auctions since their inception more than a decade ago haven driven healthy competition amongst competing suppliers. As such the results of a reverse auction can provide a great benchmark for both the buyer and the supplier. For the buyer the results can be used as a tool to evaluate how to best source other products and services. Additionally suppliers that are not the low quote or winning bid now have the opportunity to evaluate why that is and what they need to do in order to improve or to be more competitive in the market place. This of course is all happening without the need to collect, collate, compare or negotiate during the process. In other words it is happening transparently to the normal sourcing process.

Additionally reverse auctions provide the opportunity for suppliers that are outside of your business area or knowledge base to bid for your business. That is if your solution provider has access to a large number of retail suppliers.

Possibly the single largest area of benefit to reverse auctions outside of price compression for procurement professionals is that it offers a significant opportunity for process improvement since most solution providers offer a standard process for hosting reverse auctions. Everything is done in one place using standard processes to build the event to the analysis of the bids collected. All information is then available for immediate evaluation and archived for easy access in the future. This reduces the overall procurement cycle time, eliminates or reduces the opportunity for human error, and provides a standard way to award business.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Sourcing; a Musical! We can source anything better than you can.

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Ok, so it’s another wacky Friday. Maybe this post should have come out last week on the 13th. As you read this keep in mind the old ANNIE OAKLEY FRANK BUTLER and Chorus song that many of us sang as children of anything you can do I can do better. Below is a version I would sing loud and sing proud to any of our competitors.

Anything you can source,
we can source better.
We can source anything
Better than you.

No, you can’t.
Yes, We can. No, you can’t.
Yes, We can. No, you can’t.
Yes, We can.
Yes, we can!

Anything you can buy
we can by cheaper.
Sooner not later
we’ll be sourcing cheaper than you.

No, you can’t. Yes, We do.
No, you won’t. Yes, we will.
No, you can’t! Yes, we do
yes, we are!

We can locate many more qualified suppliers
with a single mouse click.
We can locate new sources
with our supplier query tool.
As a result
We can drive lower savings than you.

Anything you can buy
we can buy cheaper.
We can buy anything
cheaper than you.

Pricing just fell Fifty cents?
Forty cents! Thirty cents?
Twenty!
No, they didn’t!
Yes, they did,
Yes, they did!

Any spec that you have
we have more tenfold.
So we can source anything
easier than you.

No, you can’t. (Softly)
Yes, We can. (LOUDER) No, you can’t. (Softer)
Yes, We can. (LOUDER) No, you can’t. (Softer)
Yes, WE do. (Full volume)

We are just much better than you

No, you’re not.
Yes, we are No, you aren’t.
Yes, we are No, you aren’t.
Yes, we are
Yes, WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE are. No, you’re CA-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-N’T
CA-A-A-A-N!
Yes, you ca-a-a-an!

We win. Yes you do! Yes you do! Yes you do!

We look forward to and appreciate your comments if you can.

The Green Marketing Conference

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

At the conference, good and green companies are learning how to increase their brand’s emotional, cognitive and financial connection in today’s “greening” consumer markets. These are hugely important CSR initiatives that companies must focus on if they want to continue to attract their consumers in the future.

According to GfK more and more consumers are embracing green initiatives.

• Perceptions of environmental, ethical, and social stewardship are the fastest growing contributors to consumer brand value
• Over 66% of Americans believe “Doing well by doing good is a savvy business strategy.”
• Over the past 5 years the sales of organic and all natural products have increased 18% to 25% year over year.
• 30% of American consumers are willing to pay up to a 20% premium on clean, green products over non-sustainable alternatives…and that number grows each year.

Additionally in a related survey by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media, sixty percent of surveyed individuals felt either a great deal or a lot of personal responsibility to protect the environment. Who do you think these consumers will turn to for their product and services purchases?

This author posts regularly on this subject. It is important to hold your supply chain partners accountable to your companies Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. As this may be a difficult task to accomplish on your own, you procurement solution provider should be able to provide you with this type of information about your existing and new sources of supply. If they can not, make a change to a company that can.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

New Moon Rising!

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

The above can be applied to just about any subject. In this case we are talking about e-procurement, strategic sourcing, e-negotiation, reverse auctions and e-RFX which are all terms with similar meanings. You can visit Google, Yahoo, Bing, Wikipedia and other internet search sources and you will be taken to a link to a provider’s home page or to a web page with a definition of these key words. Some definitions have been updated; some solutions offer more current technology at a lower price. However the bottom line is still the same. If you assign a good amount of your spend to these types of tools the following is a partial list of benefits you should enjoy.

1. You will compress your pricing
2. You will improve your earnings
3. You will find new sources of supply
4. You likely will improve terms and conditions
5. You will likely improve quality
6. Your procurement team will be more productive
7. You will have process improvement
8. You will directly support safer products
9. You will directly support the environment
10. You will hold suppliers accountable to the line item detail.

Historically these tools have not been highly used by retailers other than the largest of corporations and even in those cases large amounts of spend have not been assigned to their use. These tools can be used for small spends, large spends and just about any spend in between. Since there is always a new moon on the horizon, there is always an opportunity for newly enlightened companies to take advantage. We are about to end the first decade of the twenty first century. Isn’t time to look at things in a new way?

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Retailers; who monitors your supplier’s safety performance?

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

This is an even more complex issue when you consider that in order to do so data is required from your organization relative to the historical performance of your existing suppliers, data from the supplier as to their own assessment of their historical performance and finally other types external data that neither you or your incumbent may have.

When we talk safety, the question that retailers need to ask their suppliers is pretty simple. What certifications do you carry relative to food safety such as Safe Quality Foods (SQF), Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), American Humane Certified and many more? Additionally you should question all suppliers and manufacturers relative to their USDA and FDA inspection history.

Although Green Initiatives fall into the area of the social consciousness of a company, there are a variety of questions that should also be asked in this area as well such as what are your own companies green product initiatives such as Green Seal, Eco-logo and Green Star certifications and participations and how do your existing and new suppliers support or plan to support these same initiatives.

As retailers consider their alternatives in these areas, it may be easier for them to rely on their e-procurement solution providers for this data if the provider has it included in their supplier database. Pre-populated e-procurement templates can also act as a form of scorecard for existing suppliers and potential news sources of supply. This is actually a type of automated RFI process which can save retailers a lot of work and time when trying to find additional sources of supply or when trying to drive cost down with existing suppliers. These data may also help to protect retailers from harmful litigation when products end up not being as safe as promised.

If your existing e-procurement provider can not provide these types of data on demand as a normal byproduct of your standard e-procurement process at no additional cost, you should consider changing providers?

As always, we look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Country of origin information needs to be a significant part of product traceability

Monday, November 16th, 2009

According to Wikipedia, Country of origin (COO) is the country of manufacture, production, or growth where a product comes from.

The Obama administration continues to seek tougher labeling laws on fresh meat and other food products from Canada. Canada continues to be an opponent to country of origin labeling. Mexico our other NAFTA partner also does not support this type of labeling and has actually filed protests with the World Trade Organization.

It troubles this author when North America has suffered the several of the largest food borne illness outbreaks in decades during the last two years that our local trading partners ignore this critical step in product traceability.

What we clearly continue to require is specific country of origin labeling. Standards tend to be inconsistent from country to country. By example products enter North America from Europe that may carry country of origin labeling like “Europe” or “EU” rather than specific labeling indicating a product comes from France or Germany.

Manufactured products create a more unique issue, as individual products may include up to hundreds of components, pieces and parts from dozens of countries and assembled in other countries. While this issue requires significant work, there is absolutely no reason that we can not include country of origin labeling on all food products that enter our country.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.