Archive for the ‘B2b Supply Chain’ Category

Knowing Who Your Suppliers Are – Onsite Visits – Part II of II

Friday, March 24th, 2023


Yesterday we posted  about the importance of onsite visits with your suppliers, how to prepare, what to look for, and the value of performing these visits.  This week we will be taking a look at some of the additional things that you need to think about when visiting a supplier in another country.

Visits to international sites will need to encompass the same types of information gathering as a domestic one such as reviewing the cleanliness of the facilities, observing production, logistic and storage processes, but there 3 important areas that must be considered in addition to these that may determine the success or failure of the visit.

Language – Assuming you are visiting a supplier that is not located in a predominantly English-speaking country, the capability to communicate onsite is an important one that should be addressed well in advance of the visit.  Many times the supplier will have staff that is fluent in more than language and can act as an interpreter, however procuring your own interpreter is also a suggestion and possibility. Also, some basic considerations of your own communication style would be to speak more slowly than usual and pause in between sentences to be understood more easily.

Culture – This is an important area to prepare for because in some countries seemingly minor things can create a tense atmosphere.  Determining whether to bow and the details surrounding when and how, if the country shakes hands when they greet and which hand they shake with are all important items in some countries and should be learned prior to your visit.  On the other hand, it is equally important to note the things that are normally unaccepted behaviors in the U.S. which many times are not viewed the same way in other countries.  Americans would generally never answer a phone call in a meeting or show up to an appointment late, but in other countries these behaviors are far less important and frequently occur during the course of doing business.

Capturing the details – Visits to international suppliers generally come with a price tag that is not insignificant to your company, so capturing as much data as possible is important on these visits.  Wherever you go during your visit take a notepad and camera with you to record what you see and hear while on the visit.  Many manufacturers will allow you to take occasional pictures as long as you ask in advance and have it cleared.  Some may not allow it and others may allow it as long as no employees are included in the pictures.  Capturing these details will be very useful to you and your team in the future and can potentially save trips for other employees in the future.

Onsite visits to your suppliers are incredibly valuable and important to your organization and are a terrific tool for knowing who your suppliers are and how they do business.  They are also important forums to gather details necessary for later contract negotiations.

If you are interested in locating potential new sources of supply, please contact SafeSourcing.  The SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database contains 457,000 globally.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday is really a story of a supply chain found and developed!

Thursday, November 24th, 2022


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

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend from SafeSourcing

One hundred and two pilgrims and crew arrived in Massachusetts after a 3,000 mile trip from England on the Mayflower. It is safe to say that as a result of that distance there was no existing supply chain to leverage, so one had to be developed and quickly. This began with basic hunting and gathering and later included trading with the areas indigenous peoples known as the Wampanoag’s for corn, seed and foraging and planting techniques.

The Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today really stems from the feast held in the autumn of 1621. Since the pilgrims had only arrived on November 21st of 1620 they had really not been there long enough to develop a fully reliable and renewable supply source. They had however established collaborative relationships with the local Wampanoag people who became regular trading partners and who helped them celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest.

The most detailed description of the “First Thanksgiving” comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621:”Our harvest  being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.

The fowl referred to above certainly could have included a wide range of fowl that was plentiful in the area such as wild turkey, pheasant, goose, duck, and partridge and unfortunately by today’s standards even eagles.

The pilgrims probably didn’t have pies or much of anything sweet at the harvest feast because they did not yet have ovens. They had brought some sugar with them on the Mayflower but by the time of the first Thanksgiving, the supply had probably run out.

Their meals also included many different types of meats. Vegetable dishes, one of the staples of today’s Thanksgiving, didn’t really play a large part in the feast. Other items that may have been on the menu certainly included sea food such as clams and lobster, Indian corn, wild fruits and nuts, meats such as venison and seal and certain dry herbs and spices.

The Thanksgiving meal that has today become a national holiday is a symbol of supply chain cooperation and interaction between English colonists and Native Americans.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, June 15th, 2022


Today’s post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

In a recent post titled “How are you dealing with your overstock issues” Where I discussed using eprocuremnt tools to help reduce retail shrink. Then today I opened the paper and there it was Shrinkflation. Which is the Reduction in the size or weight of retail products, especially items of packaged food, with no corresponding reduction in the retail price. This improves financial results for the company with the expense born by the consumer who end up getting less for more.

In economics, shrinkflation is the practice of reducing the size or quantity of a product while the price of the product remains the same or slightly increases. In some cases, the term may indicate lowering the quality of a product or its ingredients while the price remains the same.

When I was studying Psychology in college out professor brought up the term Just Noticeable Difference or (JND). He asked us if anyone though that candy bars were getting smaller year over year. We all know the answer to that question, particularly if you ever trick or treated or now take your kids trick or treating. Those darn candy bars keep shrinking. So just what is a Just Noticeable Difference

According to Helensinblog on WordPress, Just Noticeable Difference, also known as the difference threshold, is the minimum level of stimulation that a person can detect 50-percent of the time.

For our senses, there is a measure called an absolute threshold. The absolute threshold shows that we can hardly see the difference in stimulus and are able to perceive its ability, and the difference threshold is that we cannot notice the difference, better known as the” Just-noticeable difference” (JND). For example, if you hold a bag of 100 pounds of oranges, plus a pound will not be noticed. But if you hold 5 pounds, then you add a pound, you will notice.

SafeSourcing is an eprocurement company that operates across multiple industries. As such we have specific experience in helping our customers source their products through a variety of tools. One of those is our SafeSourceIt™ Templates Library. Here we house thousands of specifications that have evolved over the years as products have changed. Having the proper specification is key to sourcing the correct products at both the manufacturing and the retail level. Take care of your customers the way they deserve to be. Don’t sell them less for more, they are already hurting enough.

To learn more, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services associate.

References: shrinkflation meaning – Search (

Just-noticeable difference (JND) – Consumer Behaviour (

Do the Right Thing!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022


Today’s post is from Ronald D Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

I normally try to write about three hundred words in my posts to provide sufficient detail regarding the subject covered. Today I will not because I have a simple question and a simple answer for you.

What should consumers in the United States that support Ukraine in their defense of their homeland against Russia’s Invasion do to companies that do not honor your personal desires, or those of the every other country on the planet?


Shell Continues to Buy Russian Oil After Vowing to Stop Russia Investments


Answer: BOYCOTT all SHELL stations and stores in the United States.

 If you would like more information regarding SafeSourcing, please click the link.

131 Words! Enough Said! Do the right thing.

Trains, Planes and Trucks oh my!

Thursday, January 6th, 2022


Today’s older repost is by Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing.

This information still has some legs today in 2022 that may offer some guidance.

Oh well I tried, my title is almost like the title of the movie of a similar title, but in our case automobiles don’t provide much help. The question however is a good one and unfortunately many companies are not exploring what may be the least expensive alternative today. And that would be (Your guess was wrong) TRAINS. Surprised?

Companies that are looking to optimize their shipping lanes or even their entire logistics structure face significant hurdles.  Selecting the correct business partner  or partners is a huge challenge,   as vetting them includes so many different items that can include items like Track & Trace capability, shipment visibility, driver turnover, certifications, fuel surcharges and much much more. But don’t forget to take a hard look at Trains.

The price of shipping your freight by rail is relatively inexpensive and the volume of freight being shipped this way is projected to grow by half to $27.5B by 2040 according to an article in an dated issue of the Wall Street Journal titled Boom Times on the Tracks: Rail Capacity, Spending Soar. It’s even more true today in 2022.

This may be a surprise to many as most procurement professional tend to think of rail as old school. Well, while you may have been looking the other way, technology has been upgraded, infrastructure has been upgraded and total tonnage has increased across a broad number of categories.

Who are the major players in this space?  The names may be familiar. Union Pacific, BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Kansas City Southern to name a few.

If you like to learn more about how to optimize your shipping needs in 2022, we are assisting many companies with their shipping challenges.  To learn more, please contact a Safesourcing customer services account manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.


Best Practices to ensure that you have a sufficient supplier community for your eRFX process.

Thursday, October 28th, 2021


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

Suppliers can be broken into multiple categories such as Manufacturers, Wholesalers, Distributors, jobbers etc.  SafeSourcing maintains a robust database called the SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database that consists of greater than 427,000 global suppliers. While this is our primary research facility for identifying suppliers that participate in our eRFX events, we also use other sources such as the Thomas Register, Alibaba, and a variety of Search Engine tools.

While it would be ideal for manufacturers, growers etc. to be the primary participant in an RFP or RFQ, for the most part these companies determine how and to whom they want to take their products to market. In many cases, Manufacturers refuse to go to market directly and often direct us to use their distributors. Quite often they will recommend a couple of distributors because distributors typically have value added services that they want to provide and may bid the base products differently even if they are receiving similar volume discounts. In some cases, there may only be a couple of manufacturers of a particular product. An example in the C-store space is spill bucket liners and drain plugs where historically there were only two manufacturers.

Once we have compiled and reviewed a list of suppliers internally for a category, we review it with our customers who may from time to time have the name of a supplier we are not aware of. Although that is rare. Upon approval from our customers we then send invitations out to the suppliers and await acceptance over a pre-determined period. After that time has expired, SafeSourcing will reach out to all suppliers whether they have accepted or not and encourage all suppliers to participate. We are well practiced at this methodology and do not accept no as an answer. Our team regularly goes through training as to handling objections from suppliers to convince them to participate.

Historically the average number of suppliers participating in eRFX events has been between 5 and 7. That is over many years with categories like hotels or temporary labor that included 100’s of participants. We quite often will have to invite more than the 5-7 average to get that many to accept. Ultimately it is up to the suppliers if they want to bid on our customers business.

Obviously, the number of suppliers we end up inviting, convincing to participate, training, answering questions and hosting increases SafeSourcing’s workload as the numbers grow. As such we have always charged a second event when the number of actual participants reaches 10 or exceeds twenty-line items.

While one may think that the larger the number of participants involved, the better the results will be, that is not actually the case. The spill bucket and drain plug category mentioned above, we have achieved 19.7 percent savings with just two participants and have hosted events with just one participant. Suppliers do not know how many others are bidding in any given event and that is part of the process for them not to know.

While customers may challenge participation from time to time, rest assured that SafeSourcing is continually driving to get as many participants involved as possible.

If you’d like to learn more about working with SafeSourcing, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services associate. Make sure to ask about our risk free trial program.


Holiday Thoughts! Will There be Shortages this Christmas?  

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021


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

There are rumors that there is going to be supply shortages this coming Christmas.  Because of this, you may expect to pay more for items that you can find.  A recent survey showed that about 82% of retail executives that were surveyed stated that that they were somewhat to very concerned about the shortages.  There are a lot of things impacting the supplies including understaffed factories, record high plastic prices and now there’s a shortage of shipping containers.  Experts say that the Covid-19 pandemic caused a reduction in the number of shipping vessels operating and that has led to fewer empty containers being picked up.  Because of this there are a lot of empty containers stuck at ports for long periods of time.  Also, there is a lot of congestion in key ports within the US which is contributing to lengthening the turnaround time for the containers.  Because of these issues, the time it takes to ship cargo from Asia to the US has almost doubled during the pandemic.  Below is a list of some of the items that may be in less selection and with higher prices.

  • Toys
  • Wrapping Paper
  • Gift Boxes
  • Gift Bags
  • Gaming Consoles
  • Televisions
  • Automobiles
  • Home Appliances
  • Clothes
  • Sneakers
  • Furniture
  • Christmas Trees
  • Meat
  • Candy Canes
  • Paper/Books
  • Actually Everything

Interested in learning how SafeSourcing can help your company run more efficiently?   If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help your procurement efforts, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service RepresentativeWe have an entire team ready to assist you today.



Effective Supplier Data Management Improves Procurement Process

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021


This may be old, eight (10) years in fact. Its still no less true today then it was then.

The following excerpt is from the above titled article.

There is more to an effective e-procurement program than cost reduction.

While buyers frequently record cost reductions in the range of 30% to 40% when utilizing an e-procurement or reverse auction process, the issues of quality and performance cannot be overlooked.

The foundation for successful e-procurement is the supplier database
that has been developed and is maintained by the e-procurement service provider. Significant time and capital investment goes into the development of an effective supplier database. It provides the buyer with a recognizable advantage in terms of classification of supplier capabilities, historical performance and the quality of the products provided.

The scope, accuracy and functionality of the supplier database are critical components for buyers when using e-procurement. These elements allow buyers to identify the best sources of supply quickly and cost-effectively, oftentimes uncovering alternative sources that were previously not even considered. This is one of the major advantages of including the services of an online reverse auction service provider like SafeSourcing in the procurement process.

Supplier data management is an excellent example of pairing technology advancements with intellectual property to produce an effective, economical support tool that benefits both suppliers and buyers – better pricing, better quality and better sources of supply.

Click here in order to view the entire article.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Avoiding the fallacy of the single cause.

Friday, May 21st, 2021



Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

Procurement projects will of course come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of complexity. Rarely is any single facet of a project determined by only “top-down” variables. Any one part is more likely influenced by a three dimensional layout of different variables, all of which can determine the outcome of the greater whole. But how can all of these intricacies be accounted for, without complicating the project so greatly that it becomes unmanageable? Here are three tips for managing complexity:

  1.  Honestly identify complexity: Don’t close your eye’s to the reality of the project and pretend that it’s simpler than it really is. Admitting that  your value chain is non-linear is not conceding defeat, it’s setting you up for identifying your criteria for success (Be similarly honest with identifying your constraints/bottlenecks).
  2. Consolidate complexity early (accelerated vs delayed differentiation): In supply chains that start with homogenous parts, differentiation should come late in the chain, but the opposite is true for outputs that begin with high complexity. If you consolidate complexity by identifying requirements, scope, and expectations of variables that lead to the single end product, it will keep you from having to break out the constituent parts.
  3. Leverage the entire value proposition: Build into your project the ability to negotiate details based on the full value of the project. For example, make it clear that if a vendor wants to find loopholes that diminish the value of their original quote, that you will be awarding the vendor with the best overall value proposition, not the one who presents a polished picture and adds all manner of hidden fees.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with your procurement projects 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.

The Geographical Significance of Vendor Selection

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021


Today’s post is the SafeSourcing  BLOG Archives.

Many National companies are faced with the dilemma of trying to control the sourcing of products and services across their company in a way that consolidates what they purchase and helps them control who they are working with.   Many times our customers will tell us that they are only interested in speaking with companies who can handle their entire company; only National providers will be considered.  The SafeSourcing recommendation frequently will be to expand that vision in order to create an opportunity for greater overall value, and possibly better savings.

Today we will be looking at the advantages of each of the three geographical levels that companies can employ when setting up their projects and why a good mix of all three can create greater opportunities for success for your company.

National suppliers – There are some obvious advantages for selecting National providers to be involved with sourcing projects.  As you grow they will have the infrastructure in place to support you and your business.  In many cases they have a support system and reporting system that can assist you with tracking what you are spending and where those products and services are being delivered to.  National suppliers have the size to be able to reduce the overall costs of the items you purchase but they also have the overhead and internal expenses that it takes to maintain a National company.   National companies tend to have larger market share and recognition so their aggressiveness in competing for your business may not always be in line with that of the regional and local suppliers who are looking for any way to get some of your business.

Regional suppliers – Regional suppliers tend to cover 20 to 40% of the country and focus on a specific area such as the Northeast, Southeast, West Coast, etc.  The advantages of the regional supplier are that they are large enough to be aggressive in price and to offer great value-add services but they are focused enough to know the area they are servicing.  Regional suppliers have typically mastered the logistics of their shipping lanes and many times know the culture and the people in the area better than a National supplier does.  While having multiple suppliers loses some of the advantages of having a National program, the services and prices may indicate a 2 or 3 supplier award makes the most sense for the company.

Local suppliers – Local suppliers who handle either a city or an entire state, are typically brought into a procurement event for one of two reasons.   They either are an incumbent of one the locations currently or they are being reviewed for a rural area that is not supported well by a national or regional supplier.  Local suppliers have the flexibility to be aggressive in pricing (especially for services) and they can usually support rural areas better than larger companies.  Having local companies involved gives incumbents a chance to fight for the business they have previously had and possibly win new business and it provides great options for locations that need special attention.   Local suppliers will also ensure that the regional and national suppliers are staying competitive in the service levels, terms and pricing they are offering you across the company.

The mix of suppliers you invite to your sourcing projects are every bit as important as the history and specifications you supply those suppliers and developing a strategy of the right mix will be important to how successful your projects end up.  While you may intend on finding one National provider, the value offered may demand you consider a 2-3 company award at the end and having options at the local level for special situations and emergencies is something every company should have a contingency plan for.

For more information about how we can assist you with developing these supplier selection strategies, 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