Archive for October, 2019

How are you attacking your shrink?

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

 

Todays post if from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Shrink never goes down. Read all of the trade rags and the numbers stay pretty constant even with the newest technologies and services offerings. And, turnover is as high as ever so unless you have great awareness campaigns in place problem will just recycle itself.

If you want to have a huge impact and have it immediately, clean out those back rooms and move your overstock items using a forward auction. We all know that with all of the new products, store resets, aged inventory and poor sell through that most backrooms are full of items you did not receive money for. That is also shrink!

The first benefit if this strategy is it will force you to look for it. The second benefit once you find it is that it will reduce your inventory shrink.

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.

Contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative to see how we can help reduce your overstock and shrink with forward auction tools.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.
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Nested if/then Statements for Everyday Use

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

Most problems don’t have solutions as simple as yes or no, such as “if A, then ‘yes’. If B, then ‘no’”. Solutions are more often evaluated through multiple sets of dependencies, such as “if A+B is greater than C, then find the average of X-Z”. Of course these statements aren’t intuitive, so if we don’t understand how to use them formally in logic equations or computer code, we are much less likely to get them right in real life situations. So here’s a crash course in Excel “IF” statements:

The basic description of the “IF” function is “If something is True, then do something, otherwise do something else”. To see it in action, start with typing “=IF” in an Excel cell of your choice. You’ll see Excel suggest the full formula as “=IF(logical_test, [value_if_true], [value_if_false])”. Each of those statements within the parentheses is a variable that does something specific, and they have to be separated by a comma so that Excel knows when you are entering a new variable. Here is how each variable behaves within the function:

  • “logical_test”: This means there must be an active function. Let’s go with an example of “A1>B1”.
  • “value_if_true”: Whatever value you include in this variable, will populate the cell you’re programing the formula for, if the “logical_test” variable is true. Such as if A1 = 2, and B1 = 1.
  • “value_if_false”: Whatever value is in the false variable, will be populated if “logical_test” is untrue. Such as if A1 = 1 and B1 = 2.

So if we insert some example variables into the formula like so: “IF(2>1, “Yes”, “No”)

This function would insert a “Yes” into the cell being programmed, and is one of the more simple ways to use the function. However, you can swap any of the aforementioned variables for other formulas as well. This is called “nesting”.

For example, you could write a formula like this: “=IF(K5<K6,”YES”,IF((COUNT(H7:H10>2)),”HIGH”,”LOW”))

Let’s describe what this function is doing in sentence form, with a context of evaluating vendor proposals: If Vendor 1’s cost is lower than Vendor 2’s cost, enter “YES” into the cell, if Vendor 1 is not lower than Vendor 2, then if the number of DC’s the new vendor carries is greater than 2, enter “HIGH” into the cell, otherwise enter “LOW” into the cell. This tells me either to select Vendor 1, or to evaluate several other dependencies to make a final decision.

This level of specificity is not normal in everyday speech, but is absolutely critical in procurement. If you have a vendor proposing an agreement, a full evaluation of the value proposition can’t be based on just one variable. Practicing this and other logic functions in Excel and other tools is an excellent way to hone your ability to evaluate complex procurement problems.

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.

Balance the power in your negotiations

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

 

 

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

Dave considers how best to navigate a purchasing decision when external factors are the key drivers.

There are times when a purchaser may feel as though the balance of power in a negotiation is stacked in favor of the seller and factors such as limited sources of supply or external factors are strongly influencing the decision.

Let’s revisit a situation that retailers were facing a couple of years ago!

Retailers had been navigating through the process of implementing EMV solutions and were expected to have completed this process by October of 2015 for their in-store POS terminals. EMV, which is short for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, is a standard for payment cards that is meant to be a more secure replacement than the magnetic stripe cards that we’re used to; although these chip cards do still have the magnetic stripes.

Their next deadline for EMV compliance was to affect the forecourt. For gas station retailers, the deadline to implement EMV capabilities at the pump was October 2017. After the deadline, the liability for fraudulent transactions will shift to the retailer if the retailer is not leveraging EMV. What this means for the retailer is that they are faced with a significant purchase with what seem to be limited options for implementation based on their existing equipment and other factors.

When faced with a decision such as this, it’s helpful to have a partner with the tools and experience to help guide you through the decision process. This is particularly important when your options seem limited or controlled by external factors like the EMV deadlines. Experience provides the confidence and the competence to develop and execute your commercial negotiation strategy. Your partner’s tools provide the capability and the leverage to balance the power in the negotiation.

In the case above, many companies contacted SafeSourcing for assistance.

At SafeSourcing we are devoted champions of saving money on just about any category that you can come up with. In fact we probably source it more often than your buyers or category managers do. All of our team member at SafeSourcing, would be excited to discuss how adding e-Procurement to your sourcing projects can improve your negotiation process. For more information, please contact a SafeSourcing representative.

We look forward to your comments.

 

 

 

Can you hear me now?

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

 

Today’s Post is by Eli Razov, Senior Account Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

Cellphones and smartphones have become such an integral part of our daily routine. Most people wake up roll over and grab their phone, whether to check social media or the news, our first waking moments are spent on screen. This continues throughout the day into the office. A survey has found that most employees spend roughly 56 minutes a day on their phones. While managers surveyed assumed their employees were looking at social media, many employees said they were actually reading and responding to personal emails. In addition, 58 percent of workers reported using their cell phones to visit websites that were blocked or banned by their employer.

Because of the constant use, employers are constantly developing and changing policies that address usage at work. Most employers do not think about a cell phone policy in the workplace until they realize they have a problem. Regardless of popularity, it is an absolute necessity to use a call phone policy once it reaches this tipping point. While this does not need to be an extremely detailed or no-phone policy, employers should consider incorporating their own unique policy based on the nature of the business, i.e. security, safety, or other companies of a confidential nature. There’s nothing wrong with laying out a policy clearly states to your employees how you’d like them to use their cell phones during work hours. Perhaps limiting phone calls to emergency-only is a reasonable solution. You could ask employees to keep their phones in desk drawers on vibrate. If you’re in a setting that involves heavy interaction with the public (like retail or service), you could ask employees to keep their phones in their lockers.

SafeSourcing has helped many clients put together cellphone use policies, as well as sourcing employer-provided cell phone plans. We can help you by structuring cell phone plans, as well as incorporating usage policies customized to your needs. Contact a SafeSourcing representative to help today!

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact SafeSourcing  we have an entire team waiting to assist you today.

Citation:

https://fortune.com/2017/07/25/cell-phone-lost-productivity/#targetText=The%20average%20worker%20spends%20a,work%20for%20non%2Dwork%20activity.

The Holidays Are Coming​

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

 

 

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

There is no denying that there is a period of time that lasts from mid-October through sometime around the Super Bowl. This is certainly not a new phenomenon. Over the years, I have taken to considering this period of time as a season all of its own. In this way, the “holiday season” falls outside of the normal bounds of seasons. While most seasons can be characterized by the weather, the holiday season is best characterized by its negative impact on productivity. There are clear reminders that the season is upon us. There are more candies in the aisles. There are costumes everywhere, and there is a pumpkin spice version of nearly anything readily available. If you intend to deliver positive results during this season, read on for some words of warning and advice.

What is the impact of the holiday season on productivity and how can we take steps to mitigate that impact? In the US, as the holiday season reaches its peak around Thanksgiving, we’ll start to feel the full weight of the season. One of the positive aspects of this time of year is that many people make the time to visit with their families and loved ones. This is great, but often requires travel time spent away from one’s responsibilities, including procurement. While you are likely well aware of your own travel plans and how to make sure that they don’t have a negative effect on your responsibilities at work, it’s more difficult to account for the travel plans of your colleagues and vendors. This is an unknown and will leave you open to unforeseen delays if left unchecked. All of this very often means that while we have the best intentions to remain productive and accomplish the projects that we have planned, we often fall short of achieving the results we desired in the holiday season.

So, how do we avoid this failure? Just like any other challenge, we have taken a huge step toward a solution by identifying that we are facing a challenge in the first place. In this case, open communication and an increased focus on teamwork will help us prepare for and reduce the effect of the holiday season on our goals. If you are in a position where you will require assistance or cooperation from others during this time, it is best to be upfront about your requirements. When working internally, have frank conversations with your colleagues about your own planned out of office time. If your colleagues aren’t offering their own such plans in response, consider how best to ask them to draw out any potential obstacles that you will need to overcome. When working with vendor partners, be explicit about project timelines and milestones. Beginning this process early will achieve the best results by setting expectations and providing ample time for the vendor to react appropriately.

At SafeSourcing, Inc., we remain incredibly focused on our customers’ needs during this time of year. Having seen the pitfalls that come with the season, we’re here as a guide to ensure that you achieve your procurement goals.

Ugly Produce

Friday, October 18th, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Senior Procurement Specialist at SafeSourcing Inc.

I was recently quite surprised to find out that there is an “Ugly Produce” movement which was originally started as a way to combat the massive problem of food waste. It has now become a big business and start-ups have sprung up selling less than perfect fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be thrown away due to imperfections in their appearance. One California farmer states, “Ten million tons of unharvested food is lost each year. If we used all of the food that is produced in this country, we could end world hunger. It’s not a supply issue, it’s a distribution issue.” There are debates about whether this is disingenuous given the complexity of the nation’s food system. Critics are saying this is not the answer, but farmers say it is the way of the future.

This produce is being packaged and sold to customers at a fraction of the cost. One company, Imperfect Produce, is a service that delivers seasonal, cosmetically imperfect produce for affordable prices. They and similar companies such as, Misfits Market and Hungry Harvest market themselves as solutions against food waste. The company defines “imperfect” in several ways: cosmetic damage, surplus or excess inventory, undervalued or lack of demand, or doesn’t meet a strict specification from the buyer, usually in the way it’s harvested or packaged.

USDA guidelines separate produce into grades based on size and color, so “imperfectly” good vegetables that don’t make it to store shelves, due only to irregularities in appearance, end up going to waste. Some of this produce does get distributed to food banks and soup kitchens, but the costs to ship is sometimes more expensive than the actual product. A significant portion of the country’s produce is grown in California, so the majority of Imperfect’s fruits and vegetables come from there. They work with over 200 growers nationwide and source most of its produce (78%) from family farms or cooperatives.

About one-fifth of produce is trashed simply because it’s unattractive. And while food waste experts have said tossing perfectly edible produce is a global issue, Americans are particularly bad offenders. Some 60 million tons, or $160 billion worth, of fruits and vegetables gets thrown away in the United States every year, and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average American family of four throws out an annual $1,600 worth of produce.

Almost half of all produce harvested in the United States is never eaten. Fruits and vegetables go unpicked in fields or get thrown away at the store, simply because they don’t look good. I’m not sure when we started the habit of throwing out edible food that isn’t the most attractive, but there are definitely too many people going hungry in this world to just overlook the possibility of supplying where there is a demand.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business 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.

References:

  1. https://www.imperfectfoods.com/
  2. https://www.misfitsmarket.com/
  3. https://www.hungryharvest.net/
  4. https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards/vegetables

 

 

Are you using the right streaming device?

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

 

Today’s post is by Troy Lowe; Vice President of Development at SafeSourcing, Inc.

Amazon recently released its new 2nd generation Fire TV Cube. The Fire TV Cube is a powerful streaming device that is combined with the Amazon Echo. With the built in speaker and eight microphones, you can now control your television with your voice from any direction within the room. For example, you can view a list of movies by simply saying, “Alexa, show me 4K movies.” The device can also control other functionalities such as controlling the television’s power and volume.   The 2nd generation Cube also comes with the Alexa Voice Remote so that you can control your TV and device without talking as well. Using the Fire TV Cube allows you to enjoy streaming from Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ and many other streaming services. You can also access some of your favorite websites such as Facebook and Reddit using the browser apps available for download. You can also stream millions of songs and use the voice activation to request your favorite songs, artists and playlists and control playback through services such as Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Spotify. Since the Fire TV Cube has Alexa built in, you can also control smart home devices, check the weather and all of the other features that Alexa has to offer. Below are some other features that are available with the new version of the Fire TV Cube.

  1. Hexa-Core Processor
  2. 2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps Video Output
  3. Dolby Atmos, 7.1 Surround Sound, 2ch Stereo and HDMI Pass Through up to 5.1 Audio Support
  4.  16 GB Storage
  5. 2 GB Memory
  6. Bluetooth
  7. Wi-Fi Connectivity
  8. Ethernet Support
  9. Listen with compatible Bluetooth Headphones

If you are looking to purchase new streaming device and would like help researching available options, feel free to contact SafeSourcing.   We can gather all the necessary information for you and help you decide which one meets your needs. If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help you, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplier Management

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

 

 

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

The number one most important aspect in the procurement world is supplier research and vetting. If you want to run a successful RFQ, you have to vet the suppliers and make sure the suppliers you have involved can do exactly what you need them to. A good relationship with the right suppliers offers you products and services that improve your brand and deliver better user experiences. According to Softco, selecting first-rate suppliers and weeding out low-performing vendors is key to reaching your supplier relationship and compliance management goals. Here are some important questions that you and your team should consider before engaging potential suppliers during the supplier selection process.

  1. What are your clients supply requirements? The first thing you need to do is establish exactly what products or services your client is looking to source. The more specifications, the better the supplier research can be.
  2. Whom, within your company, will complete your supplier research? Use people within    your company that have the best knowledge on particular categories. Sometime those people can help narrow down the list better than someone with in the company that has never worked within that category.
  3. Do you need a local or regional supplier? You want to establish from the beginning if you are looking for local vendors or national vendors, or both. Sometimes you may even need to find overseas vendors, however, you want to make sure the shipping and/or freight is low enough to benefit your client’s needs.
  4. When is the lowest bidder not the correct supplier to choose? Sometimes the lowest bidder isn’t always the best fit. You need to request samples, if need be, and make sure the lowest bidder’s product or service meets the requirements. Sometimes sticking with your current supplier, but pay a little more than the lowest bidder, is worth keeping that relationship.
  5. When is a vendor visit necessary? When time allows, sometimes it is necessary to make a quick visit to suppliers and establish a customer relationship. During that visit, you and your team will want to take note of the supplier’s plant capacity, current volume of work, manufacturing processes, and work environment.

Even if you are not looking source a certain category, these are things you should always be asking vendors as you are looking to switch vendors or are searching for a better price. SafeSourcing specializes in this process.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help in 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.

 

Buying Ahead

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

 

 

Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Director of HR and Administration at SafeSourcing

Timing matters when it comes to buying the things you need or want. For instance, the hottest week in the summer may have some of the highest prices for air conditioning repair or the week after Halloween is often a low cost time to buy candy. There are some items that take a bit more research than the seasonal ones mentioned above, though. Following stock prices, market trends, and global to local news often provides the best insight into what prices may do. For example, if a region of the country that yields high amounts of corn has been devastated with drought or floods, their yield will likely not be as high as initially expected. Even further than that, if the yield is lower or the quality is lessened, every product that uses that corn will be affected. This can include things like feed, which can in turn affect livestock. One product’s price greatly affects all those other products reliant upon it.

Determining the right time to buy something doesn’t always have to be so complicated. For instance, you can buy your kid’s Christmas presents throughout the year as you happen to see a good deal (which I highly recommend) and you can not only have your shopping done ahead of the season and avoid the crowds and the rush of people, but also can spend less than you might had you waited. For more complex products and the ideal time to purchase, try using a procurement professional, like SafeSourcing. They likely have already sourced the product or service you are looking for and already know the ins and outs of it, helping you not only save time, but spend less money and less effort.

While there normally is no guarantee that you are receiving the best pricing, this is actually something SafeSourcing can do. We can guarantee that through us you can save more money on the things you already purchase or you don’t pay us (Risk Free!). No matter what items or services you are looking for, we can save your more. We can even help you determine which categories and items would bring in the most savings and when the right time to source them is.

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.

 

 

 

What is a Third Party Procurement Company?

Friday, October 11th, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Inc Archives

What is a Third Party Procurement Company? The quick answer? We are our client’s right-hand man in procurement.

When speaking to suppliers, on a daily basis, we are asked who are you, why are you working on behalf of so and so, and what does third party mean?

The name third party procurement company has a couple of other names that mean the same thing, but are just as confusing, PSP or Procurement Service Provider.

According to Procurement Service Provider:

A Procurement Service Provider, or PSP, is a third party organization or consultant which is used to supplement internal procurement departments. PSP’s have their own staffing which assist in a variety of tasks for their clients. These tasks include: strategic planning, implementing best practices, supplier rationalization, and supplier collaboration, strategic sourcing and negotiation.

“Enterprises utilizing PSP’s have been able to improve spending coverage, reduce costs for goods and services, employ industry best practices, leverage the latest procurement technologies, and streamline source-to-pay processes – all without taking on the risks and assets required to achieve such results.” Aberdeen Group Research Abstract: You Will Outsource Procurement: Here’s Why and How – October 16, 2002.

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.