Archive for June, 2018

Reverse Supply Chain Management or Reverse Logistics!

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

 

Today’s re-post is by Mike Figueroa, Project Manager at SafeSourcing.

We’ve spent years perfecting how to get “stuff” from in the dirt where we found it, make it more useful, and put it into consumers hands. This is called “logistics”. But now we’re faced with the task of figuring out how to do the opposite, without destroying the planet we got it from.

Enter Reverse Supply Chain Management (RSCM) or “Reverse Logistics as it’s sometimes called. The short definition of RSCM is to capture value from end of life products, and to take them backwards into the supply chain and/or reintroduce them into the biosphere/technosphere through a sustainable and profitable system. This can include activities such as reacquiring ownership of used products from the end user back to the manufacturer or reseller, transportation of used products for sorting, evaluation and designation of products for their most profitable use, remanufacturing or refurbishing, creating secondary markets for reclaimed products, recycling back to base components and responsible disposal.

One example of RSCM is the relatively new business of “Deconstruction”. In this process buildings are taken apart based upon material component value. These materials are either re-used in new construction, recycled into raw materials, or disposed of through environmentally sustainable means. Total annual building materials (C&D debris) disposed of in landfills in the US each year is not tracked by the EPA, but estimates range between 170 and 600 million tons disposed of in landfills currently, typically with only certain metals ever being collected and recycled from the debris. Organizations pioneering this field can be found at http://www.bignyc.org/, http://www.lifecyclebuilding.org/, and www.bmra.org.

Another example of businesses capturing value from RSCM is Dupont, which achieved zero-landfill status at one of their facilities that allowed them to realize $2.2 million in revenue in 2011 from the sale of waste by-products, and $400,000 in cost avoidance (http://www2.dupont.com/inclusive-innovations/en-us/gss/sustainability/employee-engagement/landfill.html). Similarly Subaru, GM, Honda, and Burt’s Bee’s have captured additional revenue or cost avoidance by repurposing waste through reverse logistical processes (http://www.greenmanufacturer.net/article/facilities/manufacturers-gone-zero-landfill).

The challenge is that reversing the supply chain for products that have been modified in an infinite number of ways over their usage life is exponentially more complex than taking virgin material to end consumer product. The premise to that problem however, should be that not engaging this process now while it’s optional, only makes what will certainly become a necessity more complex the longer it’s postponed, and presents a large opportunity cost every year potential new savings/revenue is not captured.

We at SafeSourcing have a knack for finding markets and cost avoidance opportunities that most don’t aren’t even aware exist. 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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Accept Change​!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

 

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

Chances are, at some point, that you have had to face some unwanted changes in your life. Some changes are personal and some are professional, but they aren’t always fun. You may have been advised by friends or loved ones to embrace change. I’m not trying to tell you that at all. I am telling you that you should learn to accept change.

In eProcurement, change is usually the name of the game. That holds true for the vendors that participate in our online Request for Quote (RFQ) events and it is also true for our clients who are the hosts of these RFQ events. I thought I would share my perspective on change as it relates to vendor and client in eProcurement.

Vendors 

Change comes with the territory for vendors in an eProcurement RFQ. Whether you are an incumbent vendor or not, the results of the RFQ event are likely to bring change. This can be a very positive change. Vendors invited to participate in an RFQ event have an opportunity to secure new business through their participation. The host of the RFQ event might be one that the vendor has been calling on for years, or the host may be a net new sales opportunity. Either way, the potential for a positive change is there. Incumbent vendors might be more reluctant to the change. Certainly, there is risk in any such process that the incumbent vendor may not be awarded after the RFQ. That’s not always the case. Either way, it’s best to accept the change and make the most of the opportunity.

Clients 

The client who is hosting the RFQ event must also accept change. As a result of the RFQ event, their award decision may mean that they will be awarding to a new vendor. This might not be a vendor that they have worked with in the past. For this reason, there are always steps in the process which will allow this change to be managed by the client. One of the most common ways to manage this change to ensure that it is successful is to request and review samples. There are many other ways as well. This is meant to be a positive change. While savings is important and one of the largest benefits of the change that comes with this process, it is not the only benefit. Change can also come in the form of product or process improvements or in service levels. Accepting change and being open minded is very important.

I don’t view change as positive or negative. There are definitely times when change falls pretty directly into one of those categories, but the concept of change doesn’t imply either. In eProcurement, change should be accepted and managed. Perhaps through acceptance, you might even find you’ll be able to embrace it.

For more information as to how SafeSourcing has been able to assist its clients adapt to the ever changing world of procurement best practices, please contact a SafeSourcing customers services account manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

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Procurement Expectations

Monday, June 18th, 2018

 

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

If you have never utilized e-procurement or used a procurement partner, you may not know what to expect when first beginning. Typically, a procurement partner works with your team to assist with the procurement process. This can mean a number of things, and could include e-procurement tools, like those offered by SafeSourcing. These tools and the expertise of a procurement partner can greatly help with the success of your own efforts and can help your organization realize more savings, more opportunities, and a more streamlined and quicker process.

When working with these tools and your procurement partner, it is important to outline what you hope to achieve from the process. Making your expectations known can help direct those procurement efforts to produce the results most sought. For example, if an organization is seeking to use a new product in store, a procurement professional can help research that product, list potential suppliers, and provide a market estimate of costs to implement that product. If an organization is expanding into a new region, your procurement partner can source everything you might need, from construction companies and building supplies to products to fill the new stores. Even if a company is looking for a private label product from a certified green vendor, that is what your procurement partner would focus on finding.

Ultimately, utilizing e-procurement, and especially a procurement partner, can help you attain the results you hope for. However, if expectations aren’t known or aren’t relayed, the outcome may not align with what was wanted. A procurement partner’s job is to help your organization get the results it desires and works with you and for you to ensure the outcome is a success, because when your organization succeeds, so does your procurement team.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your procurement efforts, 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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Retail collective buyer organizations and consortiums are evolving in order to compete with mega retailers.

Friday, June 15th, 2018

 

These business structures have been around for a long time. Many have evolved to use cutting edge e-negotiation and eProcurement tools. Their retailer members are also benefiting from their use of these tools in order to reduce their net landed costs in many different ways

These types of organization can go by many different names such as wholesaler, collective buyer, consortium, cooperative, share groups and more. They all have one thing in common. They consolidate purchasing volumes for a wide array of groups that may have very similar business structures, but for the savvy consortium can also be wildly different.

In the retail vertical, companies may actually belong to several different buying groups because their primary group does not offer expertise in a certain area.

Consortiums are also evolving and beginning to focus mixed markets where it makes sense. In general consortiums tend to be vertically focused such as a drug industry consortium with the members generally representing the drug industry only. However some consortiums are beginning to market them selves outside of their vertical to retailers or other companies who want to take advantage of learned expertise that the consortium possesses in the categories that are common across more than their own vertical and offer increased volumes. An example might be drug stores sourcing very similar products that health care organizations like hospitals source. Although this may seem like a stretch fro most, it is now very common within retail for non vertical specific players to work together.

Today’s advanced e-negotiation or e-procurement tools make it much easier to accomplish collective buying and aggregating outside of a consortiums initial area of expertise. Large and small retailers alike now have the capability of viewing a much broader universe of suppliers and other companies while also coordinating and participating in collaborative events from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Suppliers now have an opportunity to earn business they could never compete for in the past.

Retailers should ask their collective buyers how they plan to make the use of these types of tools and what they have to offer in terms of introductions to other companies for increased volume.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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What is a Third Party Logistics Provider or 3PL and how do retailers use them?

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

 

If you are having difficulty with your current  distribution model, compress your spend using eProcurement tools and then source a reputable 3PL.

According to Wikipedia a third-party logistics provider (abbreviated 3PL) is a firm that provides outsourced or “third party” logistics services to companies for part, or sometimes all of their supply chain management functions. Third party logistics providers typically specialize in integrated operation, warehousing and transportation services that can be scaled and customized to customer’s needs based on market conditions and the demands and delivery service requirements for their products and materials.

As such, there are a number of types of 3PL’s within retail that may in fact service a single retailer as well as smaller buying groups of small retailers. All might fall under this umbrella including wholesalers such as SUPERVALU, collective buyers such as TOPCO or even a retailer collaborative that may in fact just coordinate aggregated purchases and in fact pick other 3PL’s to provide warehousing, picking and packing and distribution. Each of these providers may in fact provide some or all of the same services. The later or collaborative of multiple retailers might even be looked at as a non asset based 3PL.

In all categories of third party logistics providers however it is still the end user or retailer regardless of size that determines what products they buy and accept delivery of in their stores. As such, it should be no more difficult for smaller retailers to run e-negotiation events?  There will need to be discussions as to costs that are purely associated with the warehousing, slotting, picking and distribution of products by a 3PL once an e-negotiation event has been planned, but these items should be easy to break out for bid or add to the final pricing prior to award of business as a flat fee. This is a practice that all 3PL’s should be familiar with already. Retailers should anticipate that their existing 3PL depending on services offered would rather not have you conduct these types of events as it negatively impacts their volumes with manufacturers and other providers and as such their company’s margins.

Understanding your options and the flexibility that 3PL’s can provide may actually make it easier for all retailers to use e-negotiation tools to impact their bottom line.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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My thoughts on the use of e-procurement tools by retail collective buying organizations.

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

 

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

I originally wrote this post 10 years ago. While a lot has changed, a lot has not. Many collective buyer organizations are understaffed and lack the category expertise to serve their constituency adequately.

Many of these structures believe that they speak on behalf of their retail members for anything and everything that they source. Unfortunately many of their members do not agree. These are independent business people. If they have an opportunity to reduce their cost of goods, expenses and capital spend it is their right to do so. Are they all getting the best pricing today. don’t believe it for a minute.

These business structures have been around for a long time. Many have evolved to use cutting edge e- procurement tools, but many have not. Do their retailers also benefit from their use of these tools in order to reduce their net landed costs? I’ve been in the supply chain since 1970 and the answer is NO!

This author remembers being a young salesperson over 30 years ago (ouch!). I convinced a customer to buy some new point of sale equipment. I was really excited when I took the contract to the customer for signature. Once there, the retailer told me I had to get a purchase order from Cressy Dockham who was their wholesaler and they would tell me how much discount the retailer was to receive. Cressy Dockham is no longer in business today. They were located in Americus Georgia. I worked in Boston. Thus began a long relationship with collective buyers across all segments of the industry. Explanation of fees was always a part of the discussion.

These types of organization can go by a lot of different names such wholesaler, collective buyer, consortium, cooperative, share groups and more. They all have one thing in common. They consolidate purchasing volumes for a wide array of groups that may have very similar business structures, but can also be wildly different. Some retailers may actually belong to several different buying groups because their primary group does not offer expertise in a certain area.

Obviously, these organizations are not in business to lose money. There are some non profit membership organizations that do return earnings to their members on a pre-planned basis such as quarterly or annually.

As a result of volume consolidation or aggregation, these organizations often qualify for much larger discounts from manufacturers and suppliers than do their independent retailer partners. In many cases the full discount is not passed on to retailers in order to cover the cost of administering the programs. Additionally, other service fees may also be added to invoices.

Today’s advanced e-procurement tools make it much easier to accomplish collective buying. Large and small retailers alike now have the capability of viewing a much broader universe of suppliers while also coordinating and participating in collaborative events from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Suppliers now have an opportunity to earn business they could never compete for in the past.

Retailers should ask their collective buyers how they plan to make the use of these tools available and how many suppliers they have to choose from by category.

I look forward to your comments.

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The Difference between Customer Service and GREAT Customer Service

Monday, June 11th, 2018

 

Todays post is from our SafeSourcing archives

When you think about any type of customer service, you usually just remember your bad experiences and really great experiences. Anything that is considered expected just seems to slip through the cracks without being thought twice about.

So, how do you stand out to be that company that everyone remembers and talks about? I’m going to discuss two steps that, if you follow, you will have a very satisfied customer/client that keeps coming back to you and also refers you to others as well.

Going Above and Beyond:  Giving a customer more than what’s expected or out of the norm is always something that will be remembered. Another way to go above and beyond is overachieving. For example, if a customer requests a document by a specific date, shoot for a date that is prior to that deadline, this will show you’re engaged and committed to exceed their expectations.

Good Communication:  Make yourself readily available at all times, even if it is after hours. This shows that you are committed to get the job done and make the customer happy. Keep the customers or clients up to date and always in the loop with any information needed or requested.  By being proactive with your communication, the customer will not have to continually chase you down for information or updates.

Customer Frame of Mind:  The number one key to creating a happy customer is by placing yourself in their shoes.  Continually think, “If this was my decision to make, what information would I need?  What details would I need to know about a new vendor?  What are the missing pieces I would need to award this business?”, and then get those things.

Creating an Overall Memorable Experience:  If the above steps are followed, you will have a very happy customer. They will understand that you went outside the expected services to make sure they had a very painless and positive experience. They will remember the experience and want to share their experiences with others.

For all of your procurement needs, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative for a great customer service experience. A service that is more than just what’s expected and that you will want to share with all of your family, friends, and/or colleagues.

We look forward to your comments.

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Time Management and Procurement

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives.

Does your procurement team seem like they never have time?

I would argue that working in procurement is one of the busiest careers. Between management of internal projects, working with suppliers on an individual basis, and working with customers, it is easy to forget tasks that are not considered a high priority.

Tools that SafeSourcing uses to manage time effectively:

1. Outlook Calendar- Typically my entire day is planned on my calendar, with reminders set.
2. Task List- Organized by priority first thing in the morning.
3. Checking things off- When you complete a task, make sure you mark it complete.

If your procurement team still seems extremely busy, you may want to consider partnering with a 3rd Party Procurement firm, such as SafeSourcing. Effective time management leads to successful events, and those results lead to savings. Time Management is huge when it comes to managing successful events.

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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Phone Addiction in the Office

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

 

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

According to a study by Dscout Inc., a mobile app research firm, the average person taps, swipes, pokes their phones 2,617 times each day. That adds up to 2 hours and 25 minutes everyday!  Chief Executive, Jason Brown, of Brown, Parker & DeMarinas, observed while giving a business presentation, the majority in attendance were all fiddling their phones.  He was so angered by this that he issued a company edict: “Don’t show up at a meeting with me with your phone.  If someone shows up with their phone, it’ll be their last meeting.”

Although smartphones allow people to get their jobs done remotely, they are also the leading productivity killers at the job. Research conducted by the University of Texas, revealed that the shear presence of a smartphone on the desk, untouched, the cognitive performance  was lower than if the phone was stored in a purse, pocket, or a coat hanging near the workspace.

Mat Ishbua, CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage banned phones from meetings two years ago, and recently requested that his executive team refrain from using their phones to and from meetings. He stated that you are never too important not to say hello to fellow employees or make eye contact.

For more information on SafeSourcing, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you.

References…………………………………………….

John Simmons, WSJ, 5/17/2018

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