Archive for February, 2018

Make the Change, Ride The Wave

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018


Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Account Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

Who remembers Tupperware parties?  I was recently viewing an actual original marketing promotion of Tupperware products, while watching movies on the Turner Classic Movie channel. It certainly stirred up old memories of a time when everyone I knew owned a set of the colorful, stackable food storage containers. There is also a sales lesson to be learned here.

When Earl Tupper first introduced that molded plastic bowl with the airtight lid, people did not want it.  It sat on the store shelves until a woman named Brownie Wise took sales to a new level by implementing the direct marketing sales strategy known as the “Tupperware Party”. The parties were revolutionary in that they offered an alternative model for commercial success based around female co-operation rather than aggressive competition. It was a “perfect storm” where the product and the sales method were conducive to post-war era housewives who could gather together in a social setting and make money. Sales grew into a world-wide, multimillion-dollar success for Tupperware which continued throughout the 50s and 60s, but fell off sharply after the 70s when women joined the workforce in record numbers.

This formula proved to be commercially successful, but Tupperware was not the first to use this sales model.  The J.D. Larkin Company, a soap manufacturer in Buffalo, New York, dramatically grew company’s annual sales from about $220,000 in 1892 to over $15 million in 1906. “The Larkin Idea” enlisted a dedicated army of small-town and rural women to serve as de facto sales agents. Larkin was among the first large-scale manufacturers to eliminate all dealers—wholesalers, retailers, traveling salesmen, and brokers, representing the entire middle of the distribution chain.

Tupperware enjoyed a huge wave of success and then leveled off in the 90s. It was a big thing, which was good while it lasted.  Sales of Larkin products were buoyant through the 1910s, and tapered off in 1920 at around $28 million. Over the past couple of decades there have been other companies which have adopted the direct sales format, adding their own twist.

The right sales strategy is key, and change is inevitable. There is something to be said for knowing when to make the right change at the right time. Be ready to ride the wave when the next perfect storm comes, or you may just get washed out and eaten by the sharks!

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions 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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Five (5) Vendor Evaluation Criteria

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018


Today’s post is by Mike Figueroa, Assistant Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

It’s easy to imagine that procurement managers look at cost alone in evaluating potential vendors.  At SafeSourcing, however, we have worked with procurement managers in fortune 500 companies and small business all over the world, and we understand there are innumerable variables to be considered with any purchasing project. Today we’ll boil down those considerations into our top 5. While these aren’t exhaustive, they should get you the majority of the way to a complete evaluation:

Net Price: Not only is price of the product important, we must take into account tax, freight, rebates, even installation and maintenance in some cases. We must take into account the total cost of ownership, which will vary depending on the use the product gets in servicing your particular business model.

Location: The obvious consideration here is whether or not the vendor in question even services or ships to your area from their’s. If so, what does it cost to get the good or service to you? What are the freight or travel rates? Is the vendor licensed in your area?

Capacity: What is the production rate and MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity)? Some categories will have growing seasons or other production considerations that will require a buyer to contract capacity within certain seasons; and, of course, the production run capabilities will have to scale with the size of your typical orders.

Lead Time: How much time will it take between your first order, and delivery? Some products need to setup manufacturing equipment for a specific run, others may have full harvest seasons committed and will need 6 months before they can plant, harvest and pack their crops.

Risk: What variable commodity prices are your product dependent on? Does the vendor you are considering have pricing subject to currency exchange rates? How do they handle fluctuations? Are there any changes in the regional regulations, tariffs or licensers that could disrupt the flow of product? For international organizations these concerns multiply for every country involved in the production of the good being sourced.

What other considerations do you have when evaluating a vendor? Please leave a comment or 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.

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Do you keep your receipts?

Friday, February 16th, 2018


Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Manager of HR and Administration at SafeSourcing Inc..

Many of us use our debit or credit cards every day and by the end of the week, wind up with a stack of receipts. My receipts wind up cluttering my purse and pockets until I make it to a trash can, because the majority of the time I don’t even need them. While having so many receipts was previously a minor nuisance, after learning more about what it takes to make those receipts, avoiding receipts all together may be a better way to go from now on.

Receipts are typically made of thermal paper and are coated in different chemicals that react to heat, which causes the print to appear on the receipt. One such chemical used in thermal paper is Bisphenol A (BPA), which has been noted as a health and environmental hazard. This certainly makes me want to turn down a receipt next time I’m offered one, but sometimes a receipt is necessary.

Last October, a chemical plant in China made headlines that it would be shutting down for environmental reasons for at least several months. That plant produced a chemical that is used in thermal paper and it is estimated that it provided 70% of the world’s supply. At first glance, many might think this has no bearing on their lives, but it may very well affect every one of us.

When that particular Chinese plant shut down, thermal production paper slowed across the market. While other producers of the needed chemicals stepped up production, they struggle to make up for the difference, and that affects pricing. As prices rise, retailers begin looking for new suppliers or alternatives. One of the best ways to do this is to implement your procurement partner in your searches. They can assist not only with cost avoidance, but also with research of thermal paper alternatives, the effects thermal paper on health or the environment, or what it would take to make your point of sale digital.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your organization avoid cost increases or on finding new alternative technologies, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.


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Swim Like A Shark

Thursday, February 15th, 2018


Today’s post is by Dave Wenig, Vice President of Sales and Services at SafeSourcing.

As you read this today, imagine the image of a great white shark. Perhaps, you’re picturing it attacking its prey as in one of those nature documentaries. I simply picture the great white shark swimming through the water. I’d wager that when you think of sharks, you don’t immediately equate that image to those of us in the procurement field. But should you? In my own observations, I see sharks as powerful creatures that possess the tools and the skills to execute against their goals. For sharks, those goals are all related to hunting and survival.

Procurement professionals are sharks. Their goals also include hunting and survival. They hunt for savings and they are critical to the survival of any organization.

Sharks, as hunters, have incredible focus. If you try to imagine how to think like a shark, you may imagine being on the hunt looking for the splashing motions of a tasty meal. If you’re in procurement, you are looking for contract expirations, the length of time since categories have been competitively sourced, Market conditions, and other key indicators that tell you when you need to focus on a particular category. Once you have your sights set on a category, you are focused and driven in the hunt for savings.

To swim like a shark in procurement is to adopt the traits of the shark in your own behavior. A shark would not be deterred by some of the traditional objections to sourcing a category. Sharks would not care that the vendor has been a partner for 15 years. Sharks would not care if the vendor rep plays golf with the Vice President every week. Sharks expect a price decrease based on indices, not just increases. Sharks would see the potential savings objectively and would apply determination and ferocity until it had completed the task at hand.

One more interesting trait of sharks is their confidence. Sharks seem to know that they are sharks. Great white sharks appear to realize their place in the food chain. Procurement professionals too should know that they are sharks and realize that they have a very important role to play as well.

Go and swim like a shark. For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

We look forward to your comments.

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Are you doing business with your suppliers “A” Players?

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018


Today’s post is our SafeSourcing. archives!

You can classify all employees in an organization into three categories: A, B, and C players. Should an organization strive for 90% of employees being ‘A’ players? No, a healthy distribution of A and B players is what an organization should strive for.

C Players– All employees generally start as C players due to their training and inability to bring a benefit to the company right off the bat. Genuine A and B players will not be C players long. They will eventually bring value to the company and move to an A or B player. The employees that remain C players will eventually be weeded out of the company.

B Players– B players can perform the tasks given to them well, but show no initiative to perform beyond average. B players show more loyalty to a company. In many cases B players are former A players, but do not want the responsibility anymore for whatever reason (age, personal, family, etc.). B players will complete the task given to them and with their loyalty will save companies money in hiring and training.

A Players– Everyone wants a company full of A players. A players are responsible and work to bring great benefit to the company. Sure they are experienced, motivated, and bring great benefits to your company, but how long will they stay satisfied? With the knowledge, motivation, and experience A players have it can be challenging for organizations to sustain their employment. A players find greater opportunities and their loyalty is far less than B players.

What type of player is your company searching for? You cannot run a company with only one type of player. A successful organization will have a healthy balance of A and B players. Understanding who your A and B players are is an important key step.

We all work with the three different players from our suppliers and  we know it can be challenging to receive the results or information you have requested from a B or C player. If a company you are working with has not established  who their A, B, and C players are, then you could end up working with any of them for contract negotiations. At SafeSourcing we have an extensive SafeSourceIt™ Supplier database and  existing relationships with  the suppliers that will deliver the results you request. SafeSourcing finds the suppliers A players in order to bring value to your company from the outside.

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 and appreciate your comments.

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There are 7 steps of the strategic procurement process!

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018


Today’s post is by Ashley Riviello , Account Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

Only being with Safe Sourcing for a few days and knowing absolutely nothing about the company prior to my hire, I have learned a great deal of information in a very short amount of time. In order to fully understand what it is we do I have been doing a little research out side of work. According to sources, no pun intended, there are 7 steps of strategic procurement process.

Step 1: Conducting an internal need of analysis

To start you need to identify exactly what the needs are of your client. You need data including but not limited to, current performance, resources used, costs and potential growth.

Step 2: Collect Information

It is extremely important for you to collect as much information as possible, so you are able to help your client as best as possible. Look for specific requirements that are needed and see exactly what their goal is and how you can help them achieve that goal.

Step 3: Collect Supplier Information

Not only do you need information from your client, you also need to get information form your suppliers. You need to select suppliers carefully. You should only pick certain suppliers that are going to benefit your clients needs. It would also be helpful to learn a little bit about their company.

Step 4: Develop a Sourcing/Outsourcing Strategy

After all, 3 steps are complete you are in need of your Request for Proposal (RFP) or a Request for Quote (RFQ) to all the selected suppliers. You will also need to get your agreement and documents finalized and sent to your suppliers. Getting your business strategy in order will keep you organized.

Step 5: Implement the Sourcing Strategy

Having an Expression of Interest (EOI), a prepared RFP or a RFQ and solicit bids from identified potential suppliers as part of the bidding process is very important at this stage. The RFP should include:

  • Detailed material
  • Product or service specifications
  • Delivery and service requirements
  • Evaluation criteria
  • Pricing structure
  • Financial terms

Step 6: Negotiate with Suppliers and Select Winning Bid

Your procurement team will then evaluate the received proposals, quotes or bids, and use the criteria and a process to shortlist the bidders to provide detailed proposals and give reports to your client. After the evaluation process is complete, your procurement team will then enter contract negotiations with the first selected bidder.

Step 7: Implement a Transition Plan

Winning suppliers should be invited to participate in implementing improvements. A communication plan is a must when developing a system for measuring and evaluating performance.

These are a few things I have learned in the few days working for this great company and I feel that if you follow these few steps you and your team can develop and implement a strategic procurement plan.

Please contact a SafeSourcing customer Services team member about our risk free trial

We look forward to your comments




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How Much Does FREE Cost? Simple Question right?

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018


Today’s post is from the SafeSourcing Archive

The byline to this post would seem simple but the number of large companies that are taken in by it is staggering.

My brother dropped his phone and to no surprise the screen was cracked. He took it into his wireless provider and without insurance he would have to buy a new phone. A new phone? That sounds great! Right? Well he did not have an upgrade available and without insurance he would have to buy the phone at “full retail price”.

The phone that cost him ZERO dollars when he signed a two-year contract was $349.99! I understand that the contract gets you a better deal, but how do wireless providers make a profit when they are just “giving away” phones.

Wireless providers subsidize the cost of your phone into your wireless plan. They have to pay the manufacturer for these phones, but take such a large hit initially in the contract. It takes wireless providers an average of at least six months to begin making a profit on your wireless contract. Makes you wonder how low your service contract could be a month if you paid “full retail” price for your phone.

Many companies have used the word ‘FREE’ to sell a product or service, but are they really free? If you did not accept the free or significantly low cost coffee maker for the office would the year supply of coffee be cheaper? There is a cost for free and that cost usually falls back on the customer or consumer.

SafeSourcing, Inc. has the knowledge and expertise to eliminate the cost of ‘free’ from your service related plans.  If you’d like more information on how avoid the free pitfall, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

Be careful out there or you might just get what you have not asked for.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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The High Cost of Baking with All Natural Ingredients

Friday, February 2nd, 2018



Today’s post is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Consultant at SafeSourcing.

Gerry Newman, owner of Albemarle Baking Co., in Charlottesville, VA, buys vanilla for his business. Just a few years ago one-gallon of organic, fair-trade vanilla was $64.  In June of 2017, that same gallon is $245.  It is a global phenomenon for pastry chefs and ice cream makers.  Some businesses have changed their recipes to use less vanilla or have switched suppliers to find a cheaper product.  “It’s not certified organic.  It’s not fair trade, he says.  There’s guilt I have over that, because we’re talking about something that’s all hand labor, and if these people aren’t being treated fairly, it’s really sad.”

Harvesting vanilla is one of the most labor-intensive foods on Earth. Vanilla beans are from the seeds of an orchid.  It grows wild in Mexico where birds and insects pollinate the flowers; however, most vanilla now is grown in Madagascar where the pollination is done by hand.  After the seed pod has been harvested, the pod is soaked in hot water, it  is then wrapped in woolen blankets for roughly 48 hours, and then placed in a wooden box to sweat.  The pods are then laid out in the sun to dry, but only for one hour each day.  This process takes months.

There was a period of low prices for vanilla that many farmers abandoned their farms. A lot of companies had switched to a synthetic version of vanilla.  Synthetic vanilla is much cheaper than natural vanilla.  The package declaration may read “vanillin” or “artificial flavors”.

A savvy shopper prefers natural ingredients. Three years ago, Nestle and Hershey’s announced they were shifting to natural ingredients.  They wanted vanilla from orchid seeds.  That is when the supply did not meet the demand. The cost of vanilla beans in Madagascar costs more than 10 times what it did five years ago. Good news for farmers, but not so god for bakers.

Farmers in Madagascar are now rebuilding vanilla plantations as quickly as they can, but it takes 4-5 years before those orchids start producing seeds. Last March a cyclone hit Madagascar, destroying a third of the crop.  Also, theft has become a major problem for farmers.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can help you with your sourcing needs, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.


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More than negotiating contracts!

Thursday, February 1st, 2018


Today’s post is  from  our SafeSourcing archives.

If you are a sports enthusiast there is no doubt that you are probably familiar with the Buffalo Wild Wings chain of restaurants.  The fact that this statement is geared to sports fans and not food or Buffalo wings fans is the biggest reason this company is one of the fastest growing in the world.  By shifting the focus away from what they had traditionally done (food first; atmosphere second) to a primary sports fan destination that happens to offer good food, the chain has been able to explode with growth almost tripling revenue numbers in the last five years.  This effort to give customers more than the traditional offering and some of the ways procurement professionals can begin doing the same for their internal customers is the focus of today’s blog.

Get involved early – Negotiating contracts and handling vendor negotiations has always been a main focus of procurement teams.  Many times they are engaged well after the decision has been made for services and products.   The problem with this approach is that there is no longer any leverage for the procurement team to get a better deal for the company and often they are not equipped with the background details and project progress that allow them to execute the most beneficial contracts.  By getting engaged through annual or bi-annual meetings with the department heads, a procurement team can make themselves better prepared to help the department and the company get the most value from a new agreement once the decision has been made.

Provide Extra Information – With the assumption that they have been engaged early, procurement teams can offer their internal customers more than the traditional approach by helping departments better understand how they are spending money with their current incumbents.  Helping to track down the details of how well a contract has been executed, whether through internal means or directly from the incumbent suppliers, can provide very important details for departments in making decisions of who they do business with in the future.  Another way procurement teams can assist their internal customers is by helping them to understand how the company uses and feels about the products and services they have selected in the form of supplier scorecards.  These can be used as leverage for future contracts even if a supplier change is not made.

Offer New Tools – In some companies procurement teams are actively using eProcurement tools in conjunction with strategic sourcing partners to accomplish some of their goals on many sourcing projects.  So many times these solutions and partners offer functionality that other parts of the company can use.  Contract management, survey tools, and online RFx tools are just a few of the tools that procurement departments can bring to their internal customers that will provide extra value and support beyond what they have traditionally done.

At SafeSourcing we know that many procurement departments are looking for ways to be more involved with the purchasing projects that go on in the rest of the company. At SafeSourcing we want to work with your team to help provide extra value to your internal customers paving the way for involvement at a new level.   For more information on how we can help 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.

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