Archive for January, 2012

Part I of II. Sustainable Packaging is an Attractive Option for More Companies.

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Today’s post is by Ryan Melowic Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

More and more companies are discovering that a growing segment of their customers are interested in environmental issues and would prefer to buy from companies that take global environmental threats seriously. This has caused a new generation of graphic designers and company designers to re-envision packaging design.

Companies are learning that packaging doesn’t have to be environmentally destructive. There are various techniques and methodologies that companies can employ to create sustainable packaging. More packaging companies are starting to realize that it’s worth the effort to build their packaging based on ecologically sound principles. Of course, not every company is deciding to apply ecological principles because they feel morally compelled. Some companies are simply under more pressure to create packaging because of government organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency.

New developments in sustainable packaging are pushing the idea of environmental responsibility combined with packaging to the forefront. Some environmental companies are working on new technologies to make environmentally responsible packaging the norm. For example, the company Ecovatice, recently began to create packaging made from materials that come from agricultural byproducts. It isn’t just Ecovatice that is using the power of agriculture to bring eco-friendly packaging to the world. Another company called NatureWorks LLC is working on generating plant-based plastics. Sustainable plastics are derived from plants and would have a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Contact a representative at SafeSourcing and we can provide more information on a solution and an approach to a cost effective process for sustainable packaging.

Check back tomorrow to learn more about Sustainable Packaging in Part II

All the policies in the world don’t necessarily make us safer.

Friday, January 27th, 2012

I read two articles today. Most people would not connect them. I do. The first was on the front page of USA TODAY titled Scientists engineer bioterror fears by David Vergano. The subtitle was New mad-made bird flu strain raises prospect of deadly pandemic. The second article was in the business section of THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC and titled Obama plan would protect goods headed to the U.S by John Heilprin.

I’m not sure I need to tell you how these articles are tied together, but an army is only as good as its supply chain and a population is pretty much the same from a product availability and safety persepctive. If you’d like proof, Think North Korea vs. the U.S.So where does the work need to be done. 

This picture is just product safety oriented without adding in any of the other concerns realted to the articles

Big job. Lots to be done

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

Going Postal!

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Vice President of Operations and CTO at SafeSourcing

Back in December, the U.S. Postal Service announced that it wanted to cut $3 billion in costs in 2012 so that they could avoid bankruptcy.  Delays in mail, eliminating Next day mail, eliminating Saturday delivery are all things that were under consideration for upcoming changes.  As the organization struggles to maintain operations in the wake of an electronic world that has eliminated the need for so much mail, the question for businesses becomes how are they going to begin migrating as well to avoid the rising postage costs?

Today we will be looking at a few ways companies are already doing this, in some cases saving as much as $250 to $500k a year in postage costs.

Customer statements  – Customer statements can encompass many things, be it invoices, monthly statements, performance reports, etc. but in the end what it really means is that there is at least one piece of paper that is getting inserted into an envelope and being mailed to an address or P.O. box.  In just this one activity there is the cost of printing and paper, the envelope, the postage, the processing time (whether machine or human), the delay of having that item be received and on top of all of that there is the element of an imperfect world where, due to address changes, handling mistakes or customer error, the item may never make into the hands of who it was intended to at all.  With all these things in mind, and because of the savings for handling this electronically it is easy to see why it is a big focus many businesses are starting to have.

Catalogs – There will be an element of customers that for a while will always want paper catalogs, however with the cost of generating those catalogs going up and the generations of people that will continue to demand them decreasing, the need to continue producing paper catalogs will be one that many companies closely examine in the next 5-10 years.  Add to all of that the fact that updating on online catalog can take mere seconds and updating a printed catalog is impossible after it is printed and the need to assess the ROI on continuing to print large catalogs.  In fact it’s been almost 20 years since one of the most famous catalogs (Sears RoebucK in 1993) stopped printing due to rising costs.

Employee communications – Newsletters, paystubs, tax forms, medical forms, human resource packages are all examples of traditional items that companies spend millions of dollars on every year to send their employees.  With the advent of company HR portals that now allow an employee to login through the internet and access all of these items with very low cost to the company it is a third area where companies are placing their focus in reducing printing, processing and especially postage costs..

Watching the timeline of events for the USPS since declaring itself debt-free in 2005 has been a hard and painful thing to watch.  As costs have increased and usage decreased it is a critical time for businesses to evaluate the items that are being produced and mailed and whether taking those items into the digital age is the right move from an operations and costs standpoint.

For more information on finding suppliers and products to help you make this move, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Capitalism provides the opportunity to consider alternative solutions.

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Today’s post is by Danielle Begley, Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

Last week in protest of  the SOPA and the PIPA bills against internet piracy from the House and the Senate, close to 10,000 websites blacked out either all or part of their content and allowed users to sign their petition against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Acts.

The world’s largest Internet companies boasted their presence in support of the petition as Google blacked out their logo, Craigslist blacked out part of their website, and Wikipedia went so far as to black out all content on their site.  In addition to the blackout, thousands of companies, including social media titan Facebook, expressed their support of the petition through various media outlets.

Millions of users signed the petition, made calls and sent emails to lawmakers which inevitably resulted with the bills losing support within Congress, thus proving the strength and power these internet giants have over their users, the media and even Congress. 

The strength of these giants made me think of the power incumbent suppliers boast when faced with running auctions where their business is in question.  Incumbents use all tactics possible in order to bring strategic sourcing companies down and much like Congress, the customer can at times give in to the protest. 

While this author believes the benefits of the internet would be severely jeopardized if censorship was enacted, the same holds true for the customer.  While an incumbent supplier may have an existing relationship, capitalism provides the opportunity to consider alternative solutions, which are similarly jeopardized when incumbent suppliers protest the sourcing process.

If you are facing a similar situation with your incumbent supplier, or have any questions on how to handle this problem, please contact a Customer Service Representative for more information.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Where are the priorities for the American consumer?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The front page headline of the Dayton Daily News on Thursday January 19,2012 read, “Americans spend more on tech bills than utilities.”  With people spending more money on  things like internet, mobile devices, and cable or satellite in their home than they do for basic utilities such as power, water, and natural gas it brings up the question of where the priorities are for the American public.  According to the Dayton Daily News article, “63% of U.S. households spend 35% more on technology bills than they spent on utility bills.”

This author wonders if the American public is spending so much of their time and money on technology, how much time and money does your company spends on focusing that attention for your benefit?  The online presence of a company can help increase the client base which in return can help increase your bottom line. So what are the ways you can increase your online presence?

 Facebook – a social networking service that has more than 800 million active users.  According to Wikipedia, “a 2009 study ranked Facebook as the most used social networking service by worldwide monthly active users.”
 Twitter – an online social networking and micro-blogging service and it currently has over 300 million users.
 LinkedIn- a business related social networking site and it currently reports more than 135 million users in more than 200 countries.

With the use of these popular networking sites, a company can quickly increase their client base.  Technology can be accessed from home, work, and a person’s mobile device.  Therefore, if you can get a person looking at your company on any one of these social networking sites, you and your company can reach a person at any time.  According to the Dayton Daily News article, “That’s the way you measure yourself as a 21st-century society, is by making these (technologies) basic services (essential) for daily life.”  So make yourself and your company essential for daily life.  Technology makes it easier!

For more information on SafeSourcing and how to increase your company’s technology footprint, please contact a Customer Service Representative for more information.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Have you seen MONEYBALL the movie? What’s your e-procurement strategy?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

We have some friends in town this week. So, last night we decided to rent the movie MONEYBALL. According to wikipedia, The movie is based on the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (ISBN 0-393-05765-8)  by Michael Lewis, published in 2003, about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane.

First of all the game of business is unfair, so let’s just accept that as fact. There are winners and there are losers. As I have mentioned in prior posts I tend to look at the world in terms of our profession of procurement. In the aforementioned movie, two things stuck out like a sore thumb. The first was the inability of professionals that have been in a job for a long time to accept change. The second was the benefit realized by those that are willing to embrace change and often this is not the earliest of adopters. In the case of the book, the Oakland A’s won a lot of games by using a new philosophy of player acquisition through specific data points. The Boston Red Sox used the same formula to win a world series that had eluded them for almost a century a couple of years later. Does this still mean that bigger companies using the same philosophy will always win? Or, does it allow the smaller company to compete on a more even playing field

So what does this mean to the procurement professional? Relative to the first point it means being open to change and not thinking that you already know everything. An example might be that reverse auctions of today do not run the same way as the reverse auctions of yesteryear. These tools have been rethought by companies that are newer to the space and not restricted by legacy thinking. To the 2nd point, it is never too late to think through how you are doing things. An example might be thinking through whether or not it makes sense to run an RFI with every RFQ? How do the savings compare in this environment versus the historical way of doing things.

What’s your plan to do things differently?

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Visit our wiki when you have some time!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

According to the king of all wikis, Wikipedia; a wiki is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. For example, the collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis. Wikis are used in businesses to provide affordable and effective intranets and for knowledge management. Ward Cunningham, developer of the first wiki, originally described it as “the simplest online database that could possibly work”.

Wiki” is a reduplication of “wiki”, a Hawaiian word for “fast”. It has been suggested that “wiki” means “What I Know Is”.

So, what is a SafeSourcing Wiki? Since SafeSourcing is a company dedicated to e-procurement as well as safety in the supply chain and environmental consciousness, it makes sense that the SafeSourcing Wiki would be a specialized wiki (in this case e-procurement) that concentrates at a minimum on any or all of the following.

1. Procurement terms and links.
2. Safety standards and definitions and links.
3. Environmental certifications and definitions and links.
4. Educational content for procurement and supply chain professionals.
5. Procurement templates for commonly sourced products and services.
6. Other procurement related material

The nice thing about wikis is that the definitions are not static. Authorized users can add to definitions or add definitions and terms as well as rate the site. In this way a body of work can grow from the contribution of all users and help to provide a reliable source of data for professionals in a specialized field.

Please feel free to visit the safesourcing wiki regularly and offer your comments, terms, definitions and suggestions. This section of the SafeSourcing website is free tool for anyone that cares to use it, and it is for your use as a procurement and supply chain professional, the most difficult job in all industries.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Retail Goes Mobile

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Vice President of Operations and CTO at SafeSourcing.

Recently we hosted a Request for Information for one of our customers for Mobile Technology for pharmacies.  This was such a good event because so many of companies aren’t even sure what is available to them with all of the technology advancements being made in the internet and with mobile devices.

Today we will be looking at all of retail and some of the new features your company should be considering with changes to your Mobile Technology strategy in 2012.

Just the Basics  – For those companies that are just looking to start adding this technology to their customers there are a few standard features that should be included.   The store locator feature is a standard offering that provides users a tool to instantly find the closest store to them, frequently providing maps and directions.  Another common feature is allowing the users to sign up for mass email coupons and discounts.  These are not focused to the user but rather the same email going to all customers that participate.  Having a link to the weekly advertisements in a smaller format is another standard mobile offering many retailers first give their customers.

Targeted Marketing – Unlike the mass emails and weekly ads, targeted marketing can take a few different forms, each of which provides the user marketing and coupons that are targeted just to them.  Some mobile functionality allows a retailer to “see” a customer’s registered phone when it enters the store and has the capability to provide them with immediate texts and alerts.  If a grocery store manager wants to run a short discount on meat to get it moved they can send out a text to the users in the store in order to focus the sale.  For other systems, based on the customer’s profile and/or buying patterns, texts and electronic coupons can be sent out to focus marketing messages on customers without flooding them with messaging that frequently leads to discontinued use of the system.

Pharmacy Features – As stated above the recent RFI SafeSourcing ran recently was for Pharmacy Mobile technology which has its own set of unique features.  Prescription related features have been a hot new offering in this space as retailers are looking to give their customers the capabilities.  These include having texts sent to them that their prescription is filled and ready, or that it is about to be out.  Also included in this is the capability for patients to fill and re-fill prescriptions through a mobile app to local pharmacy.  Other frequently requested features are tips for healthy living and links to quick information about their medicines right from their phones.

For more information on finding suppliers and products to help with your companies 2012 mobile strategy, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

How safe is the food you are eating?

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Today’s post is by Danielle Begley, Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

Recently, Coca Cola announced they found traces of a fungicide in their orange juice imported from Brazil.  While the fungicide is used by farmers in Brazil, its use is not permitted in the US.  Although the traces are insignificant, it made me think how heavily we rely on imported food and wonder how safe is it really? 

According to USA Today, the FDA only inspects about 1% of all imported food, which is significantly down from the number inspected 20 years ago when imported food was not as prevalent.  What is more concerning is that the FDA does not require exporting countries to carry the same safety requirements as the US.  As the number of foods imported increases the FDA simply does not have adequate resources.  As a consumer it is somewhat staggering that we have such stringent guidelines required by the FDA in our own country, however other countries of which we are heavily reliant are not held to the same standards.  What can the average consumer or better yet the local retail outlet do to be less reliant on the seemingly uninspected imported food?

Alternative sources of supply are quite useful for this concern.  Local farmers are the best source as they are held to the same safety regulations.  As a retail outlet, buying local or at least importing within the country is the way to maintain safety.  Above all, if the issue of food safety is important to your company, it is your responsibility to make it part of your corporate social responsibility.

For more information on food safety and sourcing, please contact a Customer Service Representative for more information.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

It’s more than just being “green”

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Vice President of Operations and CTO at SafeSourcing. Mark asks

For many companies the first steps to becoming greener companies begins with the desire to be doing more than just making a dollar in this world.  Their initiatives are the type of trailblazing that publications and “Bloggers” love to read and write about.  That all being said, there was nobody that ever said becoming green didn’t have to be a good business decision as well.

In today’s blog we will briefly look at some ways companies can leverage some financial incentives for their organization while they are saving the planet.

Reduced expenses – One of the most import of the 4 R’s (see series from last July’s SafeSourcing Blog) is Reduce   By its very nature the concept of getting greener by reducing waste will allow companies to reap financial rewards in the reduction of expenses.  These can come in the form a reduction in printer costs by using more online publications, or they can come in the way of reduced utility expenses by changing the way lights, heating and electricity are managed within the organization.

Rebates & Incentives  – During a time when there is such a push to protect our environment, incentives are piling up for companies to take their first steps toward becoming a greener company.  Government organizations from the Federal level all the way to the local level are offering thousands of different incentives for taking steps.  Some of these are tax breaks which translate straight to the bottom line and some are outright cash incentives.  Other companies such as insurance companies are providing additional discounts off of their rates to companies who choose greener ways to heat their buildings or that purchase environmentally safer vehicles for their internal fleet.

Increased revenue – The fact of the matter is that along with price and value, people “like” to buy products from companies who are trying to do the right thing in their business practices (i.e. Getting greener).   In the mind of the consumers, companies that invest in the future of our planet are the types of companies who are more likely to produce items they want to buy.  In 2010 Clorox invested millions towards the process of moving away from chlorine gas transportation.  In the end the move was a breakeven one in terms of expense but it has generated an overwhelming perception that Clorox is a company that is “committed to doing the right thing.”  Clorox sales as a result are “up.”

Regardless of why your company takes its first step to becoming greener, one thing is for sure, it doesn’t have to be without benefits.  For more information on becoming a greener company or in sourcing from companies who do, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.