Archive for August, 2014

Tools Your IT Team Needs!

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Today’s post is by Troy Lowe, Director of Development at SafeSourcing. 

Cloud based solutions are great because they allow you to organize all of your projects in one place.  There is no need to invest in expensive hardware or software and all updates are performed in the cloud, freeing up your employees to focus on what’s important within your organization. Once your account is setup, the infrastructure is in place to start working within minutes.

All of your data and source code are stored in the cloud, which makes it accessible anytime, anywhere.  This makes it flexible for your employees to work no matter where they are located.

Security is a big issue within organizations and cloud based solutions. These solutions have security measures to help protect your code and data.  In some cases, all communication between your computer and the service takes place over an encrypted HTTPS connection.

Things to keep in mind when you pick your solution:

  • How much does the solution cost?
  • How many users can access the solution?
  • How much are additional licenses?
  • How much storage is available?
  • Are there any hidden fees?

If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help your business get started with a cloud offering, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Clean out those back rooms and move your overstock items using a forward auction.

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Todays post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Why is it that we never hear of retailers running forward auctions? There are dozens of sources waiting to buy your overstock which all retailers know will reduce shrink and improve bottom line profitability.

If you go to any internet search engine and type in the term overstock, the data returned is in the millions of pages. Many of these links are locations  for Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) companies that will gladly agree to participate in e-negotiation events in the form of a forward auction to purchase your overstock or liquidated products for resale through their on line offerings.

Online forward auctions are an ideal way to get the best price for capital equipment, materials, overstock and services you may want to sell, such as when you need to liquidate excess inventory.

There are two basic types of forward auctions. The first is a liquidation auction where sellers are reducing inventory from overstock or liquidation and buyers are seeking to obtain the lowest price for items they have an interest in for resale and other purposes. The second type is more of a marketing auction where sellers are trying to sell unique items and buyers wish to obtain unique items. This is typical of an eBay type of offering.

Much of retail shrink happens in the back room or receiving area of retail stores. It just so happens that this is also the location of much of the overstock in the retail community. Much of this product sits there month after month resulting in significant margin hits to quarterly and annual earnings and as such to a company’s stock price.

Ask your e-negotiation solution provider how they can help reduce your overstock and shrink with forward auction tools, and who they would invite as buyers. You company stakeholders will applaud your efforts.

For immediate help, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.
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The Procurement Specialist vs. The Saleswoman

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Today’s post is by Alyson Usserman  an Account Manager at Safesourcing

I have been SUV shopping for close to three months. I have researched, test driven, looked at, researched again, and I am still not ready to buy quite yet. There are so many lingering questions that need to be answered before I sign a contract for x amount of years.

This past week I test drove two SUVs that were virtually the same on the outside. However, the inside was extremely different. SUV A had Bluetooth, and heated seats; however, SUV A was an automatic. SUV B was not equipped with Bluetooth or a back-up camera, it had a standard black interior, but the most intriguing part about SUV B was the fact that it was a 6-speed Manual Transmission.

Most people do not know how to drive a manual transmission, which is fine, however I prefer the manual over the automatic especially in the awful Ohio winter. I can control the manual completely, how fast it’s going, which gear it is in on the ice.

I already knew I wanted the manual over the automatic any day. But then questions started coming up more frequently. Will this SUV be a good long term investment? Will my 17 month old son be safe? Will he have enough leg room in 10 years? Can I fit four teenage boys in it and comfortably? Can two car seats fit safely, what about three? The car saleswoman I was speaking to and expressing concern to, attempted to convince me that that SUV was the one I had been searching for! Of course she did, that is her job to sell cars whether she believes it will be a good fit or not. Without pre-existing knowledge of the industry, the top brands, and potential issues, I may have left with SUV A instead of the one I actually wanted.

Sometimes well-meaning sales consultants think that their product is the best out there. Some of them are right, and some of them are wrong. At SafeSourcing we dig beyond face value for our customers, we not only try to find the best price possible, but the best product for that price as well.

Let SafeSourcing help you find the products that your company needs. We have an entire customer service team that can help with your procurement needs.

We look forward to your comments

The Importance of Subject Matter Experts

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Today’s post is by Michael Figueroa, Account Manager at SafeSourcing

Reaching out to vendors to obtain quotes or information is only as effective as the quality of specifications and requirements communicated. Variables such as size, quantity, color, material, mixture, function, distribution, configuration, integration, certification and compliance, or even unknown variables, can often times be readily identified by the individual with deep understanding of the product or service. Subject matter experts (SME) are often time the only link a procurement manager has within their organization to the processes that require the purchase. 

Having the wrong party involved
Getting buy-in from an internal resource who isn’t well-informed about how the product/service is to be utilized can undermine the value of a request for quote. Without the right understanding, a vendor can misinterpret specifications that leave too much open to interpretation. A SME with good insight can inform the process to keep the requirements in line with expectations.

Vendor referrals
Often times a SME will already have some preferred vendors in mind, and their referrals can be a great starting point to finding a full complement of vendors that can meet your needs. Furthermore, previously known vendors often work in the specialization that your SME operates within, and may be familiar enough with the industry to forge a smooth transaction.

Confirm what you know
Make sure to check what you learn from the SME with the information you have on previously purchased products, because a misunderstanding can be costly. Also, if you are bringing a new vendor to the table the SME may not always be on board with the change, even if it needs to happen. Make sure there are no conflicts of interest steering the project in the wrong direction.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process 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.

What We Can Learn From Our Pets?

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

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

This weekend I had a few incidents with my two dogs that made me stop and think about how some of our most basic behaviors in life and in business can be learned from little things.   It should me how we hang onto things, we learn new tricks and we find out that covered up mistakes almost always get found out.

Not letting go  – The first incident happened when one of my dogs would not let go of his favorite toy.  He had to go outside and he was going to get the toy back but he wouldn’t let go and finally the toy (it was an old one) ripped in half so instead of letting go of the toy and doing what he needed do in which case if he wanted it back he could have had it.  It reminded me of how strongly we hold to processes and relationships, refusing to let go for just a moment and examine the options, doing what we need to do, and then deciding whether we want to keep those things we hold onto.  Not letting go causes tensions and in some cases forces management to look at that process or relationship and ending or changing it so that the option of going back to it isn’t even there.

Learning new tricks – With some time my other dog learned a new trick.  It was not something he ever knew how to do before but when he was able to do it, he got rewarded and we got a dog that was much more pleasant to be around.  New tricks are the way business advance and succeed.  They take time and effort but usually the effort benefits the team or process and the business itself.  Take for instance a process that requires a team to look at historical spend and vendor relationships and attacks a category in a new way that benefits the company and the supplier.  It takes time and it generally doesn’t happen on the first try but in the end it benefits everyone.

Covering up mistakes – A friend of mine had purchased a cinnamon roll that she was planning on having early Sunday morning.  When she woke up her dog was hiding and walking around the house with his tail between his legs.  He had obviously done something wrong and was feeling guilty.  Then she found an empty container behind her couch and realized her dog ate her cinnamon roll.  She was upset, the dog felt bad and then the dog eventually got sick.  This typifies behavior in the business world in so many ways.  Mistakes happen but attempting to cover them up leads to guilt by the offender and prevents the business from being able to reduce the damage or correct the mistake in a timely manner.  Helping to prevent mistakes comes with putting processes in place that help protect your employs from making the mistakes to begin with but that also have checks and balances to ensure mistakes are caught early.  The worst thing you can do is place an unprepared employee in a situation where they are not closely monitored.  It almost always leads to the cover up situation.

For more information on how we can help you develop “new tricks” or work with your procurement departments to development effective sourcing projects, 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.

“Part II” Why don’t middle market retailers use reverse auctions and other e-procurement tools?

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Todays post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Please read yesterdays post first.This is part two from yesterdays blog post that end with the following statement. Expect pushback from two sources.

The first source is your own buyers or category managers. For some, it is the false belief that these tolls will eliminate their jobs. For others, it is the thought that in rising markets, buyers tend to be conservative in the hopes that their suppliers will continue to honor old contracts and delay price increases. Neither assumption is true. E-procurement tools make a buyer’s job easier as they can do more in less time such as working with dozens of suppliers versus only the same few. Honoring old contracts almost never happens. Ever-greening of contracts is a huge problem in retail where the lack of sophisticated contract management systems that provide automatic alerts results in hundreds of contracts auto renewing at predetermined price increases resulting in huge cost increases to retailers. That was not planned for. This is all the more reason to be thinking about your spend months before contracts expire even if it only results in cost avoidance.

The second area where you can expect pushback is from your incumbent suppliers or wholesale distributors. If you have never participated in the setup of a reverse auction and most middle market retailers have not, that initial call to your suppliers to ask them to participate in a reverse auction event is always an interesting journey. Be prepared for all of the reasons in the world why you should not waste your time on this type of process. The more forceful the pushback the more likely you are to see savings that you should have seen earlier. As such, although suppliers may b well aware of or even using this technology to reduce their costs, middle tier retailers were not able to share in these savings to the extent they should.

If middle market senior executives lead the charge and cost and the availability of new sources of supply is no longer an issue, there is no reason middle market retailers should not benefit greatly from running reverse auctions.

Please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager in order to begin your successful approach to eProcurement today.

I look forward to your comments.

(Part I) Why don’t middle market retailers use reverse auctions and other e-procurement tools?

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Todays post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

This is part one of a two part blog. Part two will be published on Monday. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll call middle market retailers, those with sales of less than $2B annually.

Much the same as larger retailers, in the middle market prices are up and consumers are spending less. The impact to retailers in the middle market however may be far worse. So, what have been the roadblocks to middle market retailers using e-procurement tools to help fight competition from national and international chains as well as to insulate their earnings? Why in the world aren’t middle market retailers already running reverse auctions or using other e-procurement tools?

Let’s answer the last question first. Most of the major providers of e-sourcing or e-procurement solutions, particularly reveres auctions have either neglected or avoided the retail middle market. The primary reason for exclusion was that historically these solutions were not hosted and providers generally assumed that companies of this size would not have the infrastructure to support on site installations. As solutions evolved into hosted, on demand and Software as a Service implementations, the major providers could not or would not develop pricing strategies that were attractive to middle market retailers. For the middle market the major players partnered with third parties to deliver the solutions, which juts like the supply chain, the more players involved the more expensive the solution and as a result limited use.

Today there are newer lower cost solutions available to middle market retailers that will let them enjoy the benefits that larger companies have enjoyed for years. But, and it’s a big but. Expect pushback from two sources.

Please join us on Monday to find out where this pushback comes from. If you can’t wait, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager today.

I look forward to your comments

So, just what is a retail market exchange?

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Todays post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Quite honestly this is a fairly complex question so the answer is not simple. To begin with let’s take a look at just what a market (retail) exchange is.

One of the earliest exchanges in the retail space was called the Retail Exchange which was sponsored by some very large retailers and is still available today from a company that bought the system from its retailer sponsors. As simply as possible, a  Market (Retail) Exchange  is a business to business or B2B E-commerce platform that allows Suppliers, Resellers, and their customers or buyers to offer, purchase and manage their goods and services in a simple and effective way. Typically an organization must be a member of the exchange in order to participate. Once a member the organization can then conduct business with other organizations by establishing on line connections with each other. Typically exchanges are a shared hosting environment and in some cases for very large companies dedicated server implementations. In recent years exchanges have migrated to SaaS or software as a service models in order to address wider markets.

The success of an exchange is based on the number of suppliers or resellers that belong to it and their willingness to participate with a retailer for their business. The activity is more of hands off approach once your offer is posted that can include punch outs to a supplier’s website and catalog services for sourcing of products.

From my perspective I like the personal touch of the historical RFX process in the form of a SaaS full service offering that actively engages new sources of supply and sells them on wanting your business.  There is a much smaller investment from both a financial and resource perspective. If you want to learn more about the RFX process please visit SafeSourcing Blog archive or the SafeSourcing Wiki.

If you’d like to learn more about how SafeSourcing can assist you in the complex world of eProcurement, please contact a Safesourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Back to School…Already?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

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

For many parents, this is may be the most wonderful time of the year. It is time for school to start. It may not necessarily be that parents enjoy seeing their young ones bussed out of the house and off their hands to learn for a large portion of the day, although some may, but rather that this time of year indicates a return to normalcy. Vacations are wrapping up, the busy summer schedule is simmering down, and the focus on the daily grind of the next ten months is back to priority.

So, what does back to school have to do with business, or even procurement? First, I can vouch for an increase in traffic on my morning commute when the school season starts. More people are out doing the things they need to do because business season is back on full-time.

As strange as it sounds, the return to school also marks the beginning of the holidays. Even though Thanksgiving isn’t for another three months and Christmas another four, now is the time to start preparing. Many companies must bring on more staff and it takes time to get the new hires properly trained. For those in retail, the start of the school year brings an increase in sales in addition to the upcoming needs of the holiday season. They must start planning and procuring now for what they will need later.

If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help your business plan for the new school year or source for the upcoming holidays 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.

When is it important for National companies to invite regional providers to bid on their business?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Todays post is by Mark A. Davis, COO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Every day thousands of National companies with offices all over the country are in various stages of determining what type of product to purchase for their company and from whom they are buying it from.

Part of this decision making process involves deciding on whether they are going to deal only with other National companies or whether they will include regional companies as well.  Today we will be looking at some of the reasons why inviting regional companies to compete for you business is a good idea.

Multi-Award for Geography – While there are frequently several National companies that can handle the needs of a large National customer, there are certain services and products that can be best serviced with companies who specialize in certain regions of the country.  In these cases it adds great value when the companies that know those geographical regions the best are included in the mix of those competing directly for that portion of your company’s business.

Secondary Supplier – Many companies in today’s market have introduced Board-Level directives requiring a level of division of the company’s business so that no one vendor has the entire share for any one product or service; especially those services critical to the mission of the company.  There are different trains of thought on the effectiveness of this philosophy, but where it applies, introducing regional players, especially ones that can handle a large portion of your spend, can help meet those requirements and provide competitive savings in certain products backing up your primary supplier.

Expanding the selection pool – Often there will be products or services that by focusing only on National suppliers, will limit the field from which you have to choose.  Expanding the field of vision from which to choose to include regional players provides you, as the customer, an opportunity to see more of what is out there and allow for a more competitive landscape from which to choose.  These companies may not always be selected but in following this approach they have an opportunity for access into an account they may never had had before while providing you with a strong field from which to choose from. 

These are just a few of the reasons why expanding the pool of companies allowed to win your company’s business to include regional vendors can be a good idea for you.  For more reasons or for assistance in finding regional companies who can compete for your business, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. 

We look forward to your comments.