Archive for the ‘Business Sourcing’ Category

Sourcing and Saving in Tough Times

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

 

Today’s post is from Dave Wenig is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Services at SafeSourcing Inc

In our personal lives, it’s difficult to focus on much more than COVID-19. The effects have sunk in for most of us here in North America and those effects have been severe. Students have been displaced to home-based learning, local governments are issuing varying orders to keep their citizens at home to enforce social distancing, so many have become unemployed, and businesses are reeling.

At SafeSourcing, we’re no different. We made the hard decision to temporarily switch from our offices to working virtual for all of our employees proactively before we were required to do so by government order. We did so out of an abundance of caution and in consideration of our safety and the safety of the community at large. At SafeSourcing, we fall into the non-essential category, but that does not mean that we must cease our operations. It simply means that we needed to adjust. For many of our customers, they are facing the dual challenge of adjusting to allow for the safety of their employees and keeping their doors open to the public. Our retail customers are mostly still open, and they are on the front lines by making sure our communities have access to the essential supplies that we all need to survive.

All businesses, whether they are officially deemed essential, are struggling. Many are facing challenges managing the operational expenses against challenges like changes in demand, temporary closures, and more. This can be seen in a variety of news sources. This can even be overheard on the street. Fortunately, COVID-19 hasn’t taken away the fact that it is spring. On one beautiful evening, I sat enjoying the weather at home and accidentally eavesdropped on one side of an interesting conversation. Well, it was interesting to me.

A father with his son was walking by my house while on the phone. His conversation was clearly related to COVID-19 and the challenges he is facing. He recounted the story of a large account that had recently asked all their vendors to reduce their costs by 10% and set that as the new price moving forward. He noted that this effort had found that account about five million in savings. On the surface, that might seem impressive, but it’s not. It’s just a small start.

If SafeSourcing saves customers almost 25% on average on the categories they source with us, then that means that particular account has left around 15% in savings on the table. Worse, many markets are down at the moment, so the savings they have captured might have been available had they asked for the corresponding price decrease anyway. Meanwhile, it’s probably safe to assume that based on this unknown account’s actions, they are in desperate need of as much cost reduction as they can achieve. It’s a safe assumption because most accounts are.

Yet, it’s all too easy to still look out and feel as though you are too busy dealing with the challenges caused by COVID-19 to take the time to work with SafeSourcing and do something to affect a positive change. It’s really not; working with SafeSourcing might just address a very critical cash challenge and would do so much more effectively than just asking for a discount.

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

For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

 

 

 

Gas Station or Convenience Store and Truck Stop or Travel Center? Part 2 of 2

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

 

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

In the blog, Salad from a Gas Station? Sushi from a Truck Stop? This author raised a couple of questions, in addition to the actual questions, both of the questions may seem odd to us in 2018. There are two parts to inquire about within these questions. The first was 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 common naming of these establishments.

In some rural areas of America today, there are places of business that just serve gasoline and maybe vehicle lubricants and these were the true gas stations found in every town; however, today the gas station you may visit will carry grocery items, health and beauty items, health and junk foods, even bakery items, some fresh baked on site and some brought in by local bakeries. These establishments are called convenience stores or C-stores. They offer the consumer a small variety of items that a grocery store, bakery, or even a retail store may offer at a convenience from going to multiple places to get items needed.

Convenience stores usually charge significantly higher prices than conventional grocery stores or supermarkets, as convenience stores order smaller quantities of inventory at higher per-unit prices from wholesalers. However, convenience stores make up for this loss by having longer open hours, serving more locations, and having shorter cashier lines.1

Truck stops are similar in naming conventions. The traditional truck stop was a little more than a few diesel gas pumps and a large parking lot for truck drivers to stop and rest. Many years ago, the traditional truck stop might have had a locally owned diner attached or associated with it. Today, the word truck stop brings up a stereotype of large stations that are dirty and filled with truckers and a regular vehicle and its driver feel out of place. This is why the term Travel Center has replaced the term truck stop. Travel Centers are worded to make a place a business seem open, inviting, and clean for all drivers not matter what vehicle they come in with.  Travel Centers are often right off the highways and interstates and have lower fuel prices than conveniences stores that are usually miles off the freeway and in town.

  • Author Mark Sedenqist said it best,” I like the gas prices, but what I really like about truck stops is the retail stores. I love to walk the aisles and marvel at the array of merchandise on the shelves. Some of the automotive tools may look familiar, but few stores offer the following items all within 20 feet of each other: an audio tape on New Age mediation, a Browning knife, a Garmin fish finder, an aromatherapy reed diffuser, a genuine wood-grain noise-canceling CB mike, a Joan of Arc VHS tape, a 250-channel preprogrammed police scanner, a die-cast collectible fuel tanker, a metal detector, the complete “Seinfeld” series on DVD, a rocking chair, a deep-fat fryer, an excellent selection of women’s watches, cameras, the world’s largest assortment of beef jerky and other salty snacks, a DISH satellite “finder meter,” a cordless drill, a 12-volt ionizer and air purifier, several styles of small refrigerators, coffee makers, mugs, T-shirts, flashlights, electric blankets and the little gizmos that truckers use to lock their trailer doors.”2

As a consumer and a driver, you have a variety of choices available to you today when your parents, grandparents and even older generations of drivers did not have luxuries of buying anything other than fuel for their vehicles and had to go to another store to buy a meal before getting back on the road.  You now have a clearer understanding of the new names for establishments that have been around for decades.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convenience_store
  2. https://www.roadtripamerica.com/tips/Truck-Stops-Not-Just-For-Truckers.htm

 

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 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.

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

 

 

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.

 

The Future of Work and Pay – Part 2

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

 

Today’s part 2 repost is from our archives at  SafeSourcing.

When I was in high school, a music album cost me $15-$20. Today, for $10 a month or less, I can literally listen to any song in the world as much as I want. Similarly, the amount of calories that are available to me for relatively little money is greater than it’s ever been in the history of mankind. Medical advancements have lowered mortality rates, and will allow me to live longer than I ever would have been able to in past decades. So in many ways, you could say that even after compensating for inflation, we are more wealthy today than we have ever been just in terms of access to more, cheaper, and better quality resources. However, we also need to consider that the producers, like in the music industry, are making only tiny fractions of what they used to. This loss of profit margin spans across all industries being affected by automation, and equates to there being less jobs available, as well as less pay available  for those positions. However, there are many who think that because income used to be higher when compared to inflation, and things like education and healthcare used to be cheaper, that we should revert back to the industrial practices of previous decades.

Although manufacturing is critical to output, not all manufacturing practices should be lumped together in the same bucket. To say that an industrial machine press of 30 years ago is the same as one from 2017 would be ludicrous. Today’s machine presses have a throughput that is higher, and their operation takes much less man power than of previous generations. Factory jobs that used to need thousands of workers now take hundreds, and require much more advanced education. So when it is proposed that the solution to all of America’s problems is to gain back the factory jobs of the 90’s, we should take the advice Steve Job’s gave to Obama in 2011 when he said, “American manufacturing jobs are not coming back”. To go back to the factory jobs of 30 years ago, would be to reduce the available efficiency, and therefore increase the cost of current goods. In short, there’s no going back to “the way things were”.

For America to be competitive in the marketplace, manufacturing jobs will need to either have the same level of automation that modern international factories do, or be able to pay their laborers pennies on the hour as they do in countries with lower wage markets. Obviously, more productive capacity per capita is always the better option, but society will have to adjust to a new normal of lacking low-skill labor opportunities.

Work, career goals, professional community, and monetary incentive to produce goods and services are important reasons to keep the able-bodied working. So how do we keep our society doing fulfilling work, at a livable wage without de-incentivizing high level output and innovation? There are a few ideas being discussed right now:

• Universal Basic Income: A flat income rate, given to every citizen, regardless of how much or how little they work, or income they have.

• Negative Income Tax: A flat tax rate across all income brackets, but with payments (negative tax) given to those individuals whose income falls below a minimum.

• Working Income Tax Benefit: A tax credit that is given out for to those who work, with the benefit being tied to how much they work, up to a certain threshold.

These are just a few of the models being discussed right now that have risen to prominence. However, the conversation is far from over, and there will be many considerations to explore for a very complex problem. One thing is certain: That either technology will stop advancing, or work as we know it will fundamentally change.

What other potential solutions are there?  We would love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment or for more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

 

 

The Future of Work and Pay – Part I

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

 

 

A timely repost from our SafeSourcing Archives.

The power of exponential growth is not something very easy to understand intuitively. The classic example of this, is the fabled story of the creator of the game Chess. The emperor who was enamored with the game asked its creator what he wanted for it. The game’s creator simply asked for rice, at a rate of 1 grain, doubled in number, for every square on the Chess board. This meant he received 1 grain for the first square, 2 grains for the second square, 4 grains for the third square, 8 grains for the fourth, and so on. Not until the emperor agreed, did he realize that he owed the game’s creator more rice than would be needed to build a pile the size of Mount Everest.

Similarly, not many people understand the rate at which technology is advancing today. Technology isn’t just  advancing, its rate of advancement is advancing. In other words, if technological advancement was represented visually on a chart, it wouldn’t be a straight line moving upward, it would be a line curving upward steeply. So steeply in fact, that you would need a new chart to represent it every few years just to be able to see the full curve. The computers that took us to the moon cost millions of dollars to create, filled warehouses, and had the computational power of a pocket calculator. Twenty years later, supercomputers would shrink to room-sized contraptions, but able to process at a rate of a full teraflop. Ten years later, I’d be playing video games in my living room on a game console with more computing power for a few hundred dollars. And today, my daughter has an even more powerful kids tablet that cost less than $100.

If you have found yourself wondering why there is so much talk in business right now about automation taking away jobs, it’s not only because more and more activities are being automated that used to be done by humans. It’s also because the ability of machines to do human’s jobs is growing exponentially. During the industrial revolution, thousands of workers lost farm jobs to factory farming. But that change took decades to take place. Today, a new app hits the market and makes thousands of jobs irrelevant in a day. Predictions today indicate that any job that requires financial analysis will be replaced by computer applications in the next 20 years. As technology advances, our ability to produce products faster and cheaper will advance with it. However, those advances won’t be limited to increasing the scale of the production of goods. Advances of scope in what is available to automation, in the form of algorithms that can analyze financials, grade students, scan x-rays, and create proposals, with a tiny fraction of the human input that it takes today.

Procurement won’t be safe from this advance either. In the coming decades, spend will be synced with market suppliers, and bidding will be automatic. Massive databases will house everything there is to know about a company, so that RFIs will be generated within minutes of the proposal being requested. While these advances will destroy many jobs, exponential growth will also increase the wealth available.

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.