Archive for the ‘Procurement Company’ Category

Yesterday’s post created a lot of questions relative to attacking Gross Margin!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

The following position was offered relative to the title. “This has always been a great question for retailers”. Should we attack the bottom line by focusing on shrink, cost of goods or gross margin?

During the post we answered the areas of shrink and cost of goods and services. The question now is how would we focus on gross margin and what would the bottom line impact be?

Let’s begin by restated our gross margin assumption. If we assume that COGS or cost of goods and services is about 75% of top line revenue that would result in a simple gross margin of 25%. Now that we know our gross margin, it is pretty simple to measure the impact. The first step is to look at the categories which generally fall into gross margin reduction such as the expense category. Examples might include employee benefits, construction, insurance and not for resale purchases etc.

We already know that our gross margin dollars are equal to 25% of our fictional company’s sales of $1B or $250M. Therefore the impact to the bottom line at most could be a percentage of $250. The next logical step is to look for the largest category spends with in the gross margin area. Let’s assume that employee benefits are 15% of payroll costs and that payroll costs for our fictional company are 15% of revenue. For our $1B retailer payroll would be $150M and benefits would be 15% of that or $22.5M. If we attacked health benefits costs and were able to reduce them by 20% the improvement to the bottom line would be $4.5M or 45%. This would certainly be a worthy target, but would not impact net profit as much as our shrink or COGs models as discussed yesterday. To summarize the impact to net profit as discussed in both posts.

1. COGS  up to 300%
2. Shrink up to 100%
3. Gross Margin up to 45%

Please remember these numbers are fictitious.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Retailers we Dare you to Compare. We’ll run one event for you FOR FREE and if you don’t save a minimum of 15%.

Monday, June 21st, 2010

SafeSourcing has averaged over 30% savings for the entire time we have been in business across hundreds of millions in spend volume. This includes single event spends as small as $20K and as large event spends as large as hundreds of millions. You can rest assured that you can source all products and services with SafeSourcing regardless of how small or how large.
 
We believe there are very important reasons for these results. A few are as follows.

1. Our Event Template Library.
2. The SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database with over 380,000 sources of supply.
3. Our customer services to assist buyers in building quality specifications quickly.
4. Event setup strategies that drive the best results.
5. Time to event.
6. Percentage of new suppliers per event.

So, here is the offer. Source any product or category regardless of the size of the spend and if you don’t save at least 15% THE EVENT IS FREE. Experience the difference for yourself in retail e-procurement leadership.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

This is Part III of an III part post series titled “Technology Drives E.Procurement Acceptance” focuses on Reasons to Use E-Procurement.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

 Part III Reasons to Use E-Procurement

Sometimes an explanation can be lost in translation so we have developed the following 20 reasons why utilizing the technology-based e-procurement process can provide significant benefits to you and your company. These are certainly not all of the benefits that can be derived from the use of the e-procurement process, but it is a good starting point.

While this list is not ranked in order of importance, many might argue that not much is more important than the #1 item which is improved earnings.

• Improve net earnings
• Enhance safety
• Reinforce corporate social responsibility
• Find new sources of supply
• Streamline the procurement process
• Elevate supplier accountability to meet your standards
• Improve quality
• Reduce costs in a volatile market
• Ensure a competitive environment
• Buy at market pricing
• Maintain a reliable history for comparison
• Educate suppliers as to how you wish to procure products
• Eliminates questions through effective supplier training
• Maintain consistent product specifications
• Improve negotiation
• Improve carbon footprint
• Simplify your “award of business” process
• Free up time for other tasks
• Process works for all product categories
• Provide a detailed audit trail

E-procurement offers many benefits for a broad range of companies in a variety of industries, assuming that the process selected is a high quality system with an extensive supplier database. We must also assume that the e-procurement process is implemented properly with the purchasing company and that the experienced e-procurement system provider works in concert with the buyer in order to realize optimal cost savings.

Numerous technology advancements have streamlined the e-procurement process and made it more user-friendly and less expensive. A company today can expect to reap significant benefits from e-procurement, including: saving money on purchases, reducing the time involved in the purchasing process, tracking current and archival activities and results, eliminating waste and improving the overall efficiency of the supply chain.

 Take advantage of the technology advancements and don’t overlook the benefits of implementing an e-procurement process to strengthen your company’s bottom line.

To download copies of this entire article please use the following link.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

This is Part II of an III part post series titled “Technology Drives E.Procurement Acceptance” focuses on Getting Started!

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Getting Started

First and foremost in getting the e-procurement process right is to select a solution provider or partner that knows what they are doing and is willing to work closely with you during the early part of the process. The e-procurement plan for each company will be somewhat different in order to meet the specific needs of the company. There is however a general order to things that will provide the best opportunity for success.

To realize the most benefit from your e-procurement process, you will need to:
• Develop your strategy
• Complete a detailed discovery
• Learn to understand how to set up your procurement events, even if handled by your provider.
• Use a provider with a high quality process and an extensive database for sourcing suppliers
• Clearly communicate how events will be run or executed to all involved parties • Review the process for sustainability and adjust as necessary
 
As mentioned earlier, it is incumbent upon your e-procurement solutions provider to be able to assist you in completing these tasks in a reasonable period of time. You should be checking the background of the team and the leadership that will be assisting you to ensure their understanding of your industry such as operations, technology, procurement, warehouse management, logistics, transportation, loss prevention, store management and other functional areas of your business that will be sourcing products and services. It is all about detail because knowledgeable attention to detail will improve quality, reduce costs and ensure the success of your company’s new e-procurement process.

Please join us for part III of this post series on Monday titled Reasons to Use E-Procurement.

To download the entire article please use the following  link.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What is the retail procurement lifecycle of a product or service?

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

This author generally begins discussing this subject with our customers and prospects during the discovery phase of our engagements. It helps to get us all on the same page and as such we get a lot of different definitions. Quite frankly we get almost as many as the number of people we discuss the subject with. Surprisingly the process which is quite simple as a definition is not any different from when I first learned it over 40 years ago in the U.S. Air Force other than its automation provided by modern procurement tools.

Typically procurement consists of seven (7) steps. Where the confusion generally enters is that each step can have a process of its own or be interrelated with another step in the process. An example would be the contract lifecycle that easily fits within the negotiation cycle and the renewal cycle. Another might be that information gathering which is the generally accepted first step in the process can apply to multiple issues such as information gathering for the related product or services such as specifications as well as the information gathering of prospective supplier data.

As such, the simple steps to the procurement lifecycle that most individuals generally agree upon are as follows.

1. Information gathering
2. Supplier contact
3. Background review
4. Negotiation
5. Fulfillment
6. Consumption
7. Renewal

Most times keeping this simple model in mind will allow  retail procurement professionals to answer the question where are we in the process when a project gets stalled or off track.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Safesourcing Inc. completes a successful year two.

Friday, May 7th, 2010

It hardly seems possible that we launched our company two years ago. At the time there were indicators for those paying attention of trouble in the global economy but know one had any idea just how bad it was going to get. In hindsight what a time to launch a company. When customers and business partners asked me why, my response was if you are doing what you believe in and the results you promise are true, then there really is no bad time to launch a business.

Our promise has been the same from day one, to reduce the cost of goods and services regardless of a company’s size or the size of the category being sourced. And, while doing so improve quality, safety and environmental focus. Today, two years later our customers will attest to the fact that we have held true to that promise.

Following is a short list of accomplishments that we are very proud of.

1. Over 700 educational blog posts relative to e-procurement issues of importance.
2. Over 1500 useful procurement related wiki terms and definitions.
3. Added an average of more than one new customer for every month in business.
4. Grew our supplier data base to greater than 380,000 retail suppliers
5. Sourced 100’s of categories from commodities to finished goods and services.
6. Sourced categories as small as $5K with savings > 30%.
7. Sourced categories as high as $80M.
8. Never held an e-negotiation event that did not result in savings.
9. Conducted every process in e-procurement including RFI, RFP and RFQ.
10. Installed our product in Asia in a multi lingual implementation.
11. Averaged over 24% savings over two years.
12. Developed a unique process for sourcing small spends for the retail mid market.
13. Grew our database to over a terabyte of data.
14. Helped companies source with environmental and social consciousness
15. Today released SafeContract™ a fully featured hosted Contract Management System.

To our customers thank you for your support. We endeavor to earn your business every day. To our business partners thank you for your guidance during a tough economic period. To the retail industry our goal is to be your best vehicle for reducing costs and improving earnings with an increased focus on corporate social responsibility.

Thank You.

What’s on your e- procurement tool belt? Tool belts should make your job simpler.

Monday, April 26th, 2010

There are all sorts of shiny new belts in every store. Don’t get caught up with flashy features that you will never use or forget how to use because you will end up defaulting to doing things the same way you have been for years

The SafeSourcing e-procurement tool belt is simple and easy to use.

A procurement intern can build an e-negotiation event the very first time they look at our tools. If they don’t understand certain procurement terminologies they can enter the term into the SafeSourcing Wiki without ever leaving the website. If you would like to converse with other procurement professionals about a variety of subjects such as index pricing, just log in to Sourcebook it’s easier to use than traditional social network sites and has many of the same features. You can create a group or hold an open threaded conversation with hundreds of other procurement professionals. If you are looking for new sources of supply, you can request information sorted by dozens of criteria including proximity to a particular zip code, category, sic code etc. While all this is going on alerts from more than thirty sources like the FDA, USDA and OU provide you with up to the minute industry alerts on safety and environmental related issues. Are you looking for product specifications?  Just click on the SafeSourceIt template library. Want to start a contract after you have awarded business from an e-negotiation event, simply click on SafeContract to view templates and setup tracking.

You can also read this blog daily and pass the useful inforamtion on to a friend very easily.

We constantly hear from our customers how simple our tools are to use. What are you waiting for; get your pants of the ground with the Safesourcing e-procurement tool belt.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

There are a number of places from which procurement professionals can collect or solicit your RFI data.

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

According to Wikipedia and others a Request for Information (RFI) is a standard business process whose purpose is to collect written information about the capabilities of various suppliers. Normally it follows a format that can be used for comparative purposes.

A Request for Information (RFI) is primarily used to gather information to help companies make a decision on what steps to take next. RFI’s are therefore most often the first stage in the procurement process particularly with new sources of supply. They are used in combination with: Requests for Quote (RFQ), Requests for Tender (RFT), and Requests for Proposal (RFP). In addition to gathering basic information, an RFI is often used as a solicitation sent to a broad base of potential suppliers for the purpose of preparing a supplier’s thought process in preparing for a Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Tender (RFT) in the government sector, or a Request for Proposal (RFP).

Much of the data required for an RFI is generally available and can be found on company websites, U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings for publicly traded companies in their Edgar system, industry guides from companies like Trade Dimensions, or from sources like Dun and Bradstreet.

The challenge for most companies is that they do not have the necessary resources to complete this research. Therefore providers of supplier data should be able to make this data available in templates that companies can begin with. Simple data should always be available in any database as to Company Name, Annual Sales, Product category expertise, contact information, e-procurement experience and product specifications. This data should be easily exportable to a variety of formats such as MSFT Excel.

A simple request of your e-procurement supplier should get you well on your way to completed RFI’s that lead to quality RFP’s and RFQ’s without spending a lot of your valuable time on basic research. If they do not, we’d be glad to hear from you.

We  look forward to and appreciate your comments

OK so YOU have finally decided to stick your toe in the e-procurement water! NOW WHAT?

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

First and foremost to getting this process right is to select a solution provider or partner that knows what they are doing and is willing to hold your hand during the early part of the process. The plan for each company will be somewhat different as we have discussed in a number of previous posts. There is however a general order to things that will offer the best opportunity for success.

1. You need a strategy
2. You must complete a detailed discovery
3. You must understand how to set up events even if done by your provider.
4. You must have a quality process and extensive database for sourcing suppliers
5. You must clearly communicate how events will be run or executed to all involved parties
6. You must review the process for sustainability and adjust as necessary

As mentioned above it is incumbent upon your e-procurement solutions provider to be able to assist you in completing these tasks in a reasonable period of time. You should be checking the background of the team and their leadership that will be assisting you to insure their understanding of the retail industry such as operations, technology, procurement, warehouse management, logistics, transportation, loss prevention, store management and other functional areas of your business that will be sourcing products and services.  Retail is about detail and detail will improve quality, reduce costs and insure success of your new e-procurement process.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Just what is a collaborative supply chain or for that matter collaboration in general as it applies to procurement.

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

We often hear the term collaboration or collaborative partners, collaborative supply chains, collaborative commerce or  collaborative networks when we are discussing the supply chain. It rolls of everyone’s tongue like we all know what we are talking about. So this author took a look at Wikipedia hoping to gain some insight and clarity.

 According to Wikipedia, Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together toward an intersection of common goals, and
An aggregate is a collection of items that are gathered together to form a total quantity.

Since collaboration only means different groups or organizations working together towards the same goal, that term can apply to just about any business function. However when we combine it with the word aggregate to form the collective e- procurement term Collaborative Aggregation which was coined by this author in 2006; we arrive at something potentially meaningful.

Collective buying organizations and sometimes share groups often combine purchasing volumes of like products to drive better discounts. Large companies often aggregate their purchases among departments and are more often today doing the same thing across different operating group’s or companies within a larger organizations to drive economy of scale in purchasing.

The unfortunate truth, is that not much out of the box thinking is going on in this process. We are so involved in the process that we can not see the forest for the trees.

Let’s take a look at a small regional retail chain as an example. They buy their products mostly from wholesalers who are able to aggregate the volumes of many in order to earn enough discounts to pass on reasonable pricing to the retailer that is slightly better than the retailer might earn on their own, and reserve a little for themselves in order to support their business. These products are normally for resale products. In the not for resale area or expenses category such as supplies and services, the regional retailer usually does business with a number of local suppliers. The supplies can include everything from cleaning fluids to paper bags. The supplier normally does good job of managing these products against a number different cost structures to maintain a customer margin that is good for them. As an example if the price of oil is up and the resin market high, the supplier might be making less on plastic products such as plastic shopping bags or t-sacks, soup containers, trash can liners etc. The supplier may however also carry paper products and other supplies that can be mixed together to drive a total customer margin. Retailers can do the same thing. Here’s a partial list of how collaborative aggregation can work.

1. Take a good look at the total list of supplies offered from your primary supplier.
2. Compare that to what you are buying from them.
3. Ask your e-procurement provider for a list of suppliers within a 50 mile radius that can provide the same products or some of the same products.
4. Look at local businesses within a five mile radius of your area that are not in your industry but buy some of the same products such as trash can liners, cleaning fluids, paper products etc.
5. Call them and explain how collaborating might save you both money.
6. Ask for the name of their supplier as they might be different from yours.
7. Determine a test group of products to request bids on.

Safesourcing has a best practices program for this type of collaborative aggregation that is included in our event fees. For a complete list or more information please contact us at www.safesourcing.com.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments