Archive for March, 2020

Salad from a Gas Station? Sushi from a Truck Stop? Part 1 of 2

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

 

Today’s post is from our archives at SafeSourcing Inc.

Salad from a Gas Station? Sushi from a Truck Stop? Both of these questions may seem odd to us still even in 2020 and there are two parts to inquire about within these questions. First is getting food typically not found within these establishments and second is the common name of the establishments. For today’s blog, I will focus on the food selections found in today’s market.

Many consumers used to think that the only food you could purchase at a gas station or convenience store was a hot dog, nachos, chips, and candy. While many truck stops or travel centers offered the same as convenience store, they would typically have a diner attached or associated within them.

Today, pay at the pump options make it easier for drivers to fill up and go, but do not entice them to enter the store given the past food options available. The convenience stores have had to re-think how to get drivers in their doors and various things have changed over the years to do just that, from larger and cleaner restrooms to multiple food options.

Food especially has changed and is ever evolving within the convenience store business. Consumers and drivers want something fresh, quick, and yes, even healthy.

  • Consumers care what’s in their food today – they want to know when it was made, how it was prepared and what ingredients they’re about to eat. Enter the fresh trend, fresh made, fresh ingredients, and fresh foods.
  • It’s no secret that health has been a growing concern of consumers for the last decade. With folks becoming more aware of the effects certain foods have on their health, it’s becoming increasingly important to include healthy options in your food lineup.  Whether it’s a customer stopping in to grab a water before a gym session or someone just looking to lose a pound or two. Stores are looking at healthy side of things; don’t just think about obvious choices like salad and fruit. They are thinking about clean foods, snacks with fewer than four ingredients, and healthy alternatives as fan favorites. They can easily make a chicken sandwich healthier when switching from fried to baked, mayonnaise to avocado, and a white roll to a wrap.1
  • Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, consumers want things faster than ever. People don’t have time to wait for their pizza to cook, they want it ready NOW. With that in mind we have to put a focus on quickness. Convenience stores are taking advantage of this trend; think about the ways to reduce customer’s time spent getting food. From high speed ovens, fast cooking fryers, grab and go solutions, and easy check out kiosks, there are a multitude of ways to be perceived as a quick option for consumers.

Today a driver can choose from a salad and fresh made grilled chicken sandwich from a gas station/convenience store or sushi or fresh custom pizza from a truck stop/travel center. The options are starting to become endless giving drivers and consumers more options than just driving on down the road to find a suitable place to eat.

Are you interested in more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business or on our “Risk Free” trial program for RFPs and RFQs, 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.

References:

  1. https://blog.mtiproducts.com/convenience-store-foodservice-trends-2017

 

A timely repost! Contrarian, or just hipster?

Monday, March 30th, 2020

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

It’s popular these days to be contrarian, thanks largely in part to the disruptive entrepreneurs of silicon valley that have become just as well known for the products they create as any A-list celebrity. Reading business articles on the topic makes it sound like being contrarian is never a bad thing. However, while “contrarian” can mean just someone who goes against popular opinion, doing so just for the sake of being contrarian can be very dangerous. While there is some merit to the notion that doing something which everyone else thinks is crazy might just seem that way because it’s a hugely innovative idea, there are far more people who do crazy things that simply are monumentally bad ideas[1]. The way tech and investment entrepreneur Peter Thiel puts it, what matters is being “contrarian and right[2]. Being contrarian just for the sake of being contrarian makes you a hipster[3], being contrarian and right makes you innovative.

The common thread that runs through these instances of unpopular opinion is the need to have the skills to identify a good idea. For some reason, business journalists repeatedly fail to see the obvious when they praise a business leader’s being different as the means to the success, without realizing that it was the business leader’s ability to find truths that lead them in a non-conventional direction that led to their success. The obvious danger here is that you can just as easily think differently from popular thinking, and be wrong. So how do we avoid falling into the trap of believing that thinking different is always a good thing, without missing the possible opportunities of truly innovative thinking?

    •  Slow the conversation: Contrarians thrive on rapid fire dialog, with the intention of getting your buy-in of their first point, by moving on to several other points before you’ve had a chance to think of reasons why their first idea might be a bad idea. Don’t allow anyone to gain your tacit approval by not giving you time to object.
    • Don’t fall for “mood bullying”: At times, a contrarian thinker will push to get their idea accepted not based on its merit, but by making it uncomfortable for anyone else to reject it. Don’t fall for bad ideas just because you don’t want to deal with the drama that will ensue for questioning someone’s ideas.
    • Contrarian and argumentative: A telltale sign that someone is being contrarian just to be hip rather than for the merit of an idea, is to observe how argumentative they are. If someone will argue against every idea that isn’t theirs, and perhaps even argue against their own previously mentioned ideas, there’s a good chance they aren’t trying to bring value to your organization, but to their own ego.
    • Fail quickly: If you come across an idea that goes against conventional wisdom, but the reasoning behind it is solid, iterate its implementation. Today it’s easier than ever to create prototypes quickly. Commit a small project to an innovative idea, and let it prove itself by succeeding or failing quickly and in a low risk environment.
    • Evaluate the foundation/first principles: When Pokemon Go™ exploded onto the scene; investors saw the trend and invested heavily into Nintendo™. However, in this case the contrarians were right to go against the flow: Nintendo™ didn’t actually create the Pokemon Go™ game, and once it became obvious, Nintendo™ stocks plummeted[4]. However, having the skill to identify underlying principles that lead to a market bubble for instance is a contrarian skill based on an understanding of economics that can be objectively evaluated.

Contrarianism should be a byproduct, not a goal. Innovation entails thinking differently about something because there is an assumed truth being bought into that is wrong, or an underlying truth that by and large everyone else has missed. There were contrarians in the 90’s after all, who thought the internet was a fad, and whose businesses were destroyed by other contrarians that understood the fundamentally exponential potential of network externalities and brought us internet connected devices of every shape and size. The act of understanding more deeply, having a wider breadth of knowledge, and learning a wider toolset of logical and critical thinking skills will result in having views that differ from others in ways that add value without even trying.

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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[1] “A Painful Year for Contrarian Trades – A Wealth of Common Sense.” 2016. 15 Aug. 2016 <http://awealthofcommonsense.com/2015/12/contrarian/>

[2] “E525: Peter Thiel (Founders Fund, PayPal, Palantir, Facebook) on …” 2015. 14 Aug. 2016 <http://thisweekinstartups.com/peter-thiel-launch-festival/>

[3] “http://www.bullbearings.co.uk/ 2014-12-18 monthly 0.5 http://www …” 2011. 14 Aug. 2016 <http://www.bullbearings.co.uk/sitemap.xml>

[4] “Nintendo shares plummet after investors realize it doesn’t … – The Verge.” 2016. 15 Aug. 2016 <http://www.theverge.com/2016/7/25/12269466/nintendo-stock-plunge-pokemon-go>

What Tools Do You Use?

Friday, March 27th, 2020

 

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

We all use tools in our day to day lives, but how many tools we really use might surprise you. Smartphones may be one of the most used tools in many of our lives, giving us access to directions, weather, news, a camera, or just the ability to connect with others. So, what makes a tool useful and practical or not? Whether it is your vehicle, Google home or Alexa, or even your gym, we use tools to accomplish more in less time and to make things easier.

No matter what business you are in, tools likely play an essential role in your success. Construction crews may need bulldozers, hammers, nail guns, safety equipment and more while office workers may need computers, charts, projectors, telephones and more. There are tools that can help both these industries as well as many others – e-Procurement tools. So, what are some e-Procurement tools?

First, having an e-Procurement partner, like SafeSourcing, can function as a tool your organization can use. With ready and knowledgeable staff, they can take a spark of an idea from you and turn it into something real with savings the whole organization could benefit from.

In addition to people, another tool SafeSourcing offers is our library. SafeSourcing has a vast library that can be used to educate, research, and streamline your process. Our Wiki library is available to everyone and can help you understand many industry specific terms. Our electronic newsletter provides useful news and information that can provide a better understanding of what is happening in your industry as well as around the world. To streamline your processes, SafeSourcing also has a template library that can help you with specifications, terms and conditions, and any RFx goals you might have.

Even more than already mentioned, there are more tools available from SafeSourcing. SafeSourceIt can help you get the supplies or services you need at the best price and easily compare vendors all in one location. SafeSpendAnalysis can help you understand where your organization is spending its money and where it can potentially save the most. SafeDocument is a safe and reliable location to store all your organizations documents, and with version retention and access from anywhere it can provide what you need when you need it. SafeContract is another tool that allows you to safely store your contracts and provides alerts when a contract is nearing its expiration, allowing you to be more prepared.

All of these tools can be highly useful for any organization. All of them being easy to use and in one location make them that much more useful and practical, which is exactly what we seek from a tool.

For more information on SafeSourcing tools or helping 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.

 

A simple supplier scoring system may provide key performance indicators for the future.

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

 

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

Having a large international supplier database to drive sustainable results in e-procurement events such as ant e-RFX function is critical to that events success. Maybe even more critical is making sure that the suppliers once selected for participation in an event are of the highest quality, professional, responsive and have your best interests at heart. There are several areas in the early strategy stages of a  an e-RFX process which if properly monitored can be leading key performance indicators as to future performance. These KPI’s are; the initial supplier response and supplier training schedule adherence. If suppliers are not interested enough during these early stages, this may be an indicator of future performance in other more critical areas such as on time delivery, back order management, documentation and audit compliance.

A reasonable process for measuring these KPI’s would be to measure the number of days between the project start date or initial supplier contact and the event start date, where the supplier has been sent an invitation but has not responded either positively, negatively or given a reason  for their response. Maintaining an active status of response dates could be scored based on the number of days it takes invited suppliers to respond. The longer it takes a invitee to respond the lower KPI score that supplier would receive.  Another possible KPI measurement or filter once the invitation has been accepted would be the number of days between the date accepted and the event start date, where the supplier has accepted an invitation but has not completed their automated training.

These are not intended to be punitive measures. In most cases suppliers will perform beyond your expectations. Sustainability and quality require measurements regardless of how simple.

If you’d like to learn more about The SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.

What’s the genesis of your supplier database and how was it built?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

 

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

All databases have their start as an information gathering exercise that ultimately is enhanced by those characteristics the owner or developer determines to be useful to the community of interest the database is to be offered to. The information then becomes part of a data model where information sets can be accessed or searched based on a variety of queries or questions. Most developers follow a process called Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration or UDDI  as this process.

Universal Description, Discovery and Integration or (UDDI) is a standard established for building online databases of companies and the goods and services they provide, similar to Yellow Pages for the Internet. UDDI is intended to help businesses locate suppliers and products. Sourcing companies supplier databases go well beyond this definition.

Data models can be extremely complex and that is where they become more than a simple on line yellow pages. In fact high quality supplier databases should be able to provide much of the data you might find in the opening pages of a detailed RFI. A simple query like show me all companies within a 500 mile radius of your home office zip code that provide a set of products that meet the following safety certifications.  A next step might be summarizing all company information for these companies by a list of attributes such as company description, sale, years in business, officers etc.

How easy would that make your life?

If you’d like to find more qualified and vetted suppliers to support your sourcing efforts of any product or service, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

15 easy ways that we can all help to prevent illnesses?

Friday, March 20th, 2020

 

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

With all the news about the new coronavirus, I started to look at ways to clean surfaces of commonly used items around the home, office and vehicles. I came across something that I did not know existed. They make portable UV Sanitizers that are used to eliminate bacteria, viruses and pathogens. These devices can kill up to 99.9% of surface bacteria with the use of ultraviolet light. The compact design allows for convenient use anywhere you go. Because it uses light, it is able to get into tough surfaces like keyboards and clean them better than using sanitizing wipes. To use the device, just direct the light down toward the surface to be cleaned for the recommended time. Because these devices are small, their best use is to clean smaller or harder to clean items. If you are cleaning large areas or easy to clean surfaces like counters and desks, it is still recommended that you use just a standard disinfectant wipe. This will result in faster and more precise cleaning. If you are looking for ways to help protect against the upcoming illnesses, below are other steps you can take.

  1. Get the Flu shot
  2. Avoid people who are sick
  3. Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds
  4. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available
  5. Keep your hands away from your face
  6. Get plenty of Vitamin D
  7. Stay hydrated
  8. Eat a healthy diet
  9. Work out
  10. Stay at home and reduce risk of infection
  11. Stay at least three feet away from anyone coughing or sneezing
  12. Clean shared surfaces at least once a day
  13. Avoid sharing food
  14. Store you toothbrush
  15. Get adequate sleep

If you are looking to purchase new cleaning devices or materials and would likely 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.

 

Teamwork

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

 

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

Throughout school, sports, and work the importance of teamwork is heavily advocated. In sports, we rely on our teammates’ strengths to create a better and stronger team, often leading to success and wins. With school, we are often assigned group products where everyone has a role to do and the overall project receives a score weighing to stronger work with the weaker. In work, teamwork can help us solve problems through combined experience and using mastered skills to create a more excellent outcome of a project.

 Using teamwork at work is especially important now with the current state of the country and world. We already rely heavily on each other for things we ourselves cannot provide and now is especially important to retain those same teams to work to continue accomplishing goals. Whether you are far or near, you have the tools to stay up to date with each other as if you are in the next room.

 Tools can help you perform your work faster and more easily, but it can also be your lifeline when disaster happens. Whether it is a hurricane, tornado, pandemic, or martial law, we need tools to get through it together. SafeSourcing can help you discover ways in which your organization could benefit for the betterment of all your employees and customers. SafeSourcing offers a full suite of e-procurement tools that can streamline your work processes, like keeping all your documents in one web based and secure location or monitoring your current contracts and know when any given contract might expire. In addition, SafeSourcing tools can help your procurement team source the right supplies and the right suppliers for any need your organization might have.

 For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your sourcing 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.

 

 

Gourmet Grocers Losing Their Edge

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

 

 Today’s blog is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Assistant it SafeSourcing.

 Supermarket chains and discounters are selling more natural and organic foods at lower prices, drawing more traffic from shoppers that frequented specialty grocers. Kroger recently announced they are one of the largest sellers of organic produce, meat and other goods, while discounters such as Audi and Lidl are adding much more fresh foods and opening more US locations. Since Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, the grocer has cut prices on hundreds of items, including organic produce. As a result of these changes, specialty stores are finding it difficult to keep up. In recent weeks Earth Fare and Lucky’s Market have filed for bankruptcy. Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. and Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc. shares are down about 30% and 50% over the past year. What seemed special ten years ago, doesn’t seem so special today.

There are some specialty grocers emphasizing better services to stand out, but offering better services can push up costs.

“Some executives said Whole Foods became a tougher rival after the chain started offering rapid delivery via Amazon. Green Aisle Grocery closed its two Philadelphia stores in January after sales decreased 30% over the past two years, co-owner Andrew Erace said.”1. Erace indicated that his business could not compete, nor did they have the resources to upgrade their technology.

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.

References

Jaewon Kangaroo, WSJ, 3/2/2020

 

 

Is it too Late?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

 

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

If you read my last blog post titled,Are you too comfortable?” and realized I was describing your organization then read on. Actually, please keep reading anyway.

When I wrote a month ago and posed that question, I honestly had no idea that the markets were about to tumble, schools would close down, businesses would send their employees home, sporting events would be cancelled, and more. While I was aware and even concerned about Coronavirus (COVID-19), that’s not what I was referring to. That said, this terrible pandemic has, in fact, already started challenging US businesses and this looks likely to continue. The question now is, whether or not it is too late to take actions that will help your company survive the pandemic.

In all likelihood we can still help. There is still time to take steps. Even if you are already a responsible steward of your company’s expenses, there is still likely room for improvement and any areas where you can reduce costs in a market like this are absolutely worth the effort. If you’re curious about how well you are doing with your strategic sourcing, then this blog I posted a while back will help you get a sense. Look, we save our customers greater than 24% on average across all of their spend categories. I don’t have to ask if that would be helpful. I know that would help any organization.

But, it’s not just cost reductions. Concerns are steadily growing about the stability of organizations’ supply chains and now is not the time to have all of your eggs in one vendors’ basket. If you’ve been following SafeSourcing, you probably know that we have a supplier database consisting of over 457,000 global suppliers of any good or service you might need to run your business. Even if all you need is to supplement your current supply chain with additional sources of supply or alternate service providers, we can help with that too.

Just don’t wait too long. If there’s anything that I’m sure of as this awful situation caused by Coronavirus continues to unfold across the globe, it’s that the only wrong way to prepare is to do nothing.

Stay safe and don’t be shy if you need assistance. We’re all in this together.

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.

 

 

REMINDER! CIO Applications Magazine Honors SafeSourcing

Friday, March 13th, 2020

 

SafeSourcing Inc., a leading eProcurement company offering a complete Procure to Pay suite of applications, has been recognized as one of the World‘s top auction application companies by CIO magazine.

CIO magazine has listed SafeSourcing, Inc. as one of the top ten auction platforms in its recent magazine edition. The article recognizes SafeSourcing as being a one-stop e-procurement and sourcing center, striking a balance of quality, affordability, product, and service.

“A strategic sourcing firm, SafeSourcing is at the forefront of offering a full suite of procure-to-pay tools under the SafeSourceIt™ banner which helps in reducing costs and improving efficiency” ~CIO magazine

CIO sat down with SafeSourcing CEO, Ronald D. Southard, to discuss the company’s value proposition, solutions, customer base, and future plans. In addition, the featured article elaborates on how SafeSourcing plays a role in e-procurement and how it accelerates efficiency and innovation.

SafeSourcing, Inc. provides cost effective tools under the SafeSourceIt™ product family that allows companies to dramatically reduce cost of goods, capital spending, and expenses in a timely manner while also reinforcing environmental and product safety programs. Focus is placed on a company’s entire spend for all products and services.

SafeSourcing’s early stage client engagement is specifically focused on cost reduction through the use of a white glove service based  on a detailed six step process using the SafeSourceIt™ e-RFX application suite.

Please visit www.safesourcing.com in order to  learn more.