Archive for April, 2014

When in doubt, collaborate!

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Today’s post is by Steve Schwerin, Account Manager here at SafeSourcing

Have you shied away from eProcurement because either you don’t think an individual spend is large enough to make a difference or you don’t want to go it alone?  The old saying about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts has a role even in eProcurement.  Take a second and think about how this concept could help you find savings in procurement.

  1. For one, coordinated effort leads to the benefits of scale.  SafeSourcing regularly runs events where multiple customers reap the benefits of going to market with a combined larger spend.
  2. Another benefit is that working together offers different things do different companies in different proportions.  Your company may not be buying all the exact items as your partner, but combined the similar items give a vendor the opportunity to offer greater savings to you both than otherwise viable.
  3. Collaborating may be exactly what has kept you from seeking different procurement solutions in the first place.  The benefits of working with others may go beyond the simple numbers you initially calculate.  Collaborating in and of itself might be a new procurement strategy, but you may still need a tool and expertise to facilitate the process.
  4. Finally, if you are concerned about an impersonal solution, time is revealing that the internet and electronic solutions are anything but impersonal.  They are different and they let us interact in ways that were not possible before due to communication and time barriers

We, here at SafeSourcing, would love to talk to you about how you can collaborate with your partners to all benefit more than you would if you were going it alone.  For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative or call  888-261-9070 today.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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Organic. FDA Approved. No GMO

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Today’s post is by Shelly Hayre; Project Manager at SafeSourcing.

As I walk around the grocery store reading labels of my common purchases and avoiding “known” bad ingredients, I wonder why it is allowed in our food if it is proven to be bad for our health. Only does it start getting removed from food when the general public is aware of the effects and will not purchase products with that ingredient.

This will lead you to the organic products, but these products can be very expensive at the grocery store. Grocery stores typically only carry a few organic lines and it does not cause enough competition on the shelf for lower prices.

BUT it gets better! Greek yogurt is my food of choice for breakfast. It has many benefits that are greater than regular yogurt, many consumers are aware of this. The problem is that consumers look for the word “GREEK” and they assume it has all the benefits they read about in a magazine. This is not always the case. Greek yogurt, for example, does not have a standard for labeling your product “GREEK” yogurt. So you could really be eating a yogurt that does not provide the extent of what that magazine told you.

Unless you are very educated on food products and have disposable money for true organic food it is hard to avoid these new food processes that cut cost for producers. I often wonder why this is not regulated more.

SafeSourcing does research, on your behalf, to verify the suppliers offer a good quality product and service to fit your needs. We understand the sales pitch can be so good that it is hard to understand how good the product or service will be. Let’s remove the sales pitch and get down to the quality and cost!

For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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It’s OK to Try Something New!

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing.

Change is inevitable.  We all know this.   No matter how much some people refuse to embrace that fact, it does not prevent it from happening.  The real question is whether a person is someone that waits and lets the change happen or runs in front  of change and determines the best route to take before the change occurs.  Taking advantage of new opportunities is one way to  get in front of change and position the company in a place to be proactive rather than reactive.

Research The Industry – New opportunities can come in areas where the company has current vendors and experience or new technologies, products or services where there is little to no background.  One of the ways to understand a new opportunity is by issuing RFIs to the strong players in the space.  Using tools such as Forrester and Gartner can assist with a starting point to identify the major players in the field and can be augmented with other research performed by an internal team or external strategic sourcing partners.   Once an understanding of the industry for the opportunity is identified strategies and plans can be formed for taking the next best steps.

Talk to suppliers – When opportunities arise in areas that a company has traditionally not done business it can be a wise task to reach out to incumbents and potential suppliers to get their thoughts on what the opportunities can mean for the industry and them.  Many times new technology, software, products and processes can change everything about how a business operates and the best source of information can be found in those companies who work in the industry every day.  Tempering the information collected this way with what a particular supplier has to gain or lose by the emergence of this new opportunity is also an important must.

Understand the Risk – The final piece to understanding any new opportunity is in fully understanding the risk associated with embracing it.  This can mean the risk in switching suppliers, switching technology, or embracing a process that changes how the business operates.  Another important aspect of understanding the risk associated with change is calculating the changeover costs or any potential cost associated with any leftover inventory from an incumbent.  These risks and costs will be the final piece to evaluate the total picture of a new opportunity.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist with any aspect of evaluating a new opportunity for your business or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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Understanding the Technology of Traceability!

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing.

GS1, the global standards body, the FDA, and the USDA are just a few of the organizations that are striving to increase the safety of the food we eat with new standards, processes and regulations.  With recent scares in several food items in the past few years it is no wonder that people are becoming extremely focused  on how to trace our food back to its original source.  In today’s blog we will look at some of the technologies that are helping with this process.

Enterprise Software – There are many enterprise systems out there for warehouse management and enterprise resource management that can maintain the necessary data needed to meet traceability and recall requirements but the key to these programs working for your business is whether or not they have the additional features necessary to track category/industry specific details such as those faced by seafood and meat retailers, wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers.  Companies such as JustFoodERP specialize in tracking meat and seafood by-products during the course of their life, tracking not only down to individual cases, but also providing capabilities such as the Recipe Management module to help track the by-products of the meat and seafood into other products they sell.  By managing catch-weights with a serial number tracking system, solutions like these can ensure best practices for traceability throughout their organization.

RFID – Radio Frequency Identification is not a new technology but continued development of the technology for use in traceability improves daily.  Like a barcode it can contain a unique identifier that will trace the product back to its source.  Unlike a barcode, RFID tags can be secured to be difficult to tamper with or damage, they can be placed in packaging as opposed to outside the packaging like barcodes that must be able to be seen, and unlike barcodes they can be written to and updated as the product travels through the supply chain.  With one scan an RFID tag can provide the appropriate user pages worth of information without having to be connected to an enterprise solution which can be critical when a recall is being tracked.

DNA Sampling – During the major meat recalls in the early 2000’s, DNA sampling began to take shape and developed as an alternative to typical tracing methods at that time.  With a global database of animal DNA it is possible to trace every product and byproduct back the farm or processing point of origin.  Taking DNA samples from the each carcass at the farm or packaging plant, a profile is created and stored in the database.  At any point a new sample can be taken to verify the contents and origin of the meet.  The process is virtually tamper-proof and would eliminate costly barcodes and documents and would also allow retailers and distributors to know exactly which shipments to recall, saving millions of dollars.

For more information about how we can assist you in looking into these technologies for your business, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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Spoiler Alert!

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Today’s post is by Margaret Stewart, Executive Assistant at SafeSourcing.

With so many great shows out now, many of us have a TV series we love, be it Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. Every now and then, things come up and we miss some episodes. When that happens, the last thing we want is to read something online that spoils the ending. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and all of social media can be great at keeping people connected, but can sometimes give away the details.

“I can’t believe he died at the end!” This is not what you want to hear from fellow fans nor do you want to see a meme about in online, and often the “spoiler alert” warning comes a bit too late. You will probably keep watching the show even after hearing a spoiler, but you won’t be surprised by the ending. There are, however, some spoilers that are good and make you want to know more.

What if you read about a company down the street who saved 20% off their indirect spend at the end of the year? You would love to hear that spoiler and probably would want to know more about it. To add to it, what if that same company did the same thing as you? You would likely be even more interested. After all, the more money saved means the more money available to go elsewhere.

There are a number of companies out there just like this. They may be saving money on their costs that a business down the street pays full price for. So, how does that company do it? One way is by finding the best prices on the things they have to buy. They likely talked to a procurement specialist and found ways they could get the exact items they already buy, but at a lower price.  This saved money leads to more available spend, which in turn leads to additional growth.

Finding the right procurement specialist is the first step towards lowering costs and being the company that saves money in the end. You may be surprised at how much you can save, then your company can be the “spoiler” other companies hear about.

We, at SafeSourcing, enjoy bringing this blog to you five days a week and hope you find value in it. For more information about how SafeSourcing can help your company lower its spend and increase growth or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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What’s important to you in the development of your negotiation strategy?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Todays post is by Ron Southard, CEO of SafeSourcing Inc.

What is your procurement organizations overall procurement strategy? All to often, when this author asks this question, the response I  get is  that deer in the headlights look that says to me there either is not one in place or the person I’m asking the question of has know idea how to answer the question. If there is no procurement strategy, there certainly is no supportive negotiation strategy because how companies negotiate should support their overall procurement strategy or at least it should.

The cause for the above is quite often that there is no formal procurement organization in place to begin with or the function is lost within a supply chain organization, logistics organization or finance organization. And sometimes it is even located in operations and as a result spread all over the place depending on the size of the company.

It’s a good bet that  if there is no well defined procurement organizational structure within a company that there are many maverick negotiations going on and that many of the associates conducting these negotiations are not skilled at doing so and don’t  have any advanced tools other than spreadsheets, email and telephony to conduct the negotiations with.

The result of the above is a lack of collaboration and well thought out aggregation, maverick buying, expired and or ever greened contracts and much higher than needed cost structures.

So before you can negotiate effectively you will have to go back to the drawing board and develop a procurement strategy. Once that’s in place negotiation best practices can follow.

If you’d like to learn how to do this quickly with executive office support and begin reducing costs in the current accounting period, please contact a customer services representative at SafeSourcing.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Want to get promoted? Eliminate these same old tired objections.

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

The following are the all too common objections we hear daily from procurement knowledge workers that both have and have not been exposed to e-negotiation tools in the past.

1. We already get the best cost.
2. We’ve done business with our supplier for years.
3. We don’t have product specifications.
4. We don’t have time for this.
5. Switching costs will be too high.
6. We can’t insure the same quality.
7. We need to adhere to certain standards.

If you don’t feel that these benefits would support both corporate goals and underlying CSR initiatives, give us a call and we’ll make you a hero and get you promoted.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

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Smartphones – Untapped Channels for Better Customer Service

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing

In an January interview with Deloitte vice chairman and U.S. Retail and Distribution leader, Alison Kenney Paul, one of the hot topics for Retailers in 2014 will be how they begin to leverage the millions of devices their consumers are using every day in order to provide better customer service and drive additional sales in a way that keeps them focused on what they really want to achieve rather than reacting to any change in the technology world.

Determine the goal – With new technology it can be easy to get caught up into what’s new and what’s different and lose site of the goals of the company.  Increased sales, better customer service, reduction in loss, reduction in expenses, increased traffic in the store are all good goals which companies should already have established as part of their annual planning.  Technology and leveraging customers’ smart devices can help with any/all of these goals but the key is to determine where the company has the greatest need.   If you are a smaller retailer competing with larger National retailers, the main goal may be to maintain your current customer base through competitive deals and better customer service.  Driving sales through targeted discounts and marketing may be the goal of someone.  Whatever the top organization goals are; lock those down as the baseline for how to investigate the use of this technology.

Understand the options – With established goals set, finding ways to begin leveraging the technology to achieve those goals is the next step.  For many companies this means beginning the research for solutions and partners that can help them achieve what they want.  Outside of searching on the internet, some of the best ways to see what some of these new solutions are by going to industry trade shows, attending webinars or speaking with 3rd party consultants who work with digital media and messaging to consumer smart phones every day.  Some will have tools of their own and others will be able to provide the guidance needed to take the next steps.  Many times conducting an RFI to help fill in some of the holes can be an excellent next step.

Find the best solution – With goals and an understanding of the options to achieve those goals the final step is find the best possible solution to complete the objectives.  This is generally when a formal Request For Proposal takes place and the business provides the detailed information of what they want to achieve to the suppliers that can provide solutions and/or services to help them do that.  Many options such as in-store blue tooth beacons that can push discounts and coupons to consumer phones that have signed up with the store, to in-store assistants that allow phone apps to show shoppers where a product is and if it is in stock have been released or being tested to take advantage of the technology that is already there.  The goal for all of these suppliers is to show and convince the customer of the ROI and how long it will take to achieve.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist with researching these types of solutions, conducting Requests For Information/Proposal or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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When does demand dictate it is time for a spot buy versus standard replenishment?

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Believe it or not I recently visited a store of a major retailer whose shelves looked just like this (not this picture) but unfortunately looked much the same. To me that equals a broken procurement department, a broken supply chain and maybe even a broken company as well as  a huge opportunity for a huge spot buy with local suppliers if they want to resolve the issue quickly. The actual name and location are being omitted here to protect the guilty.

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Go LED and Save Energy, Money, and Time

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Today’s guest post is from Sarah Kouse an account manager at SafeSourcing.

Switching over from fluorescent bulbs to LED bulbs can definitely save you energy, money, and time. In this blog post, I will explain the reasons why it will save you energy, money, and time just by making the switch.

First, switching from a fluorescent bulb to LED on average saves nearly half the wattage that normally would be used. For example, a High-Output fluorescent bulb that uses 54 watts of power, using an LED Tube (fluorescent replacement) bulb, it uses around 36 watts of power.

Not only do LED bulbs use less power, but they also last longer, they don’t flicker when they are about to burn out, don’t have to “warm-up”, and they don’t get hot while being used as well.

Typically fluorescent bulbs last up to around 20,000-30,000 hours and an LED bulb lasts up to around 50,000-60,000 hours. This will not only save you money because you won’t have to change them as often, but it will also save you time because you won’t have to change them as often.

Switching a fluorescent light fixture to LED is a simple retrofitting process and the cost is very low for the overall outcome you will receive switching to LED.

Yes, LED bulbs are ultimately more expensive at the initial purchase, but the perks of saving money on the electric bill, saving energy and helping the environment, saving money with not having to purchase bulbs as frequently, saving time by not having to change the bulbs as frequently, and just the overall features of the LED bulbs, make it a huge savings and better value.

Contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative today to see how SafeSourcing can help source your switch to a “Greener” alternative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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