Archive for the ‘Reverse Auction Procurement’ Category

Just what is a reverse auction? Be careful the answer is not that easy.

Friday, November 19th, 2010

There has been a lot of discussion about reverse auctions lately in the blogosphere. Most of it has centered on whether or not reverse auctions are strategic or not. Many of you are well aware of my opinion on that subject. What interested me was my customers thought that there was a negative reaction to the term. Guess where it came from? You’re right it came from the buyers which is one of the two places it usually comes from, the other being the suppliers. This normally happens during the early adoption stage of e-procurement tools within a company.

My answer to the question was you can call it what ever you want within your own company but do you know how many kinds of reverse auctions there really are. The answer was no. So listed below are some of the names of different types of reverse auctions. Some apply to specific industries while others are just enhanced versions of a particular type. Probably the most commonly used is the classic Dutch auction.

My question to you e-procurement types out there is how many can you name or better yet define the use of. And if there are so many types with the reason being manipulation of the results in different ways, then maybe reverse auctions are strategic or not.

1. English Auction
2. Multi unit English Auction
3. Yankee Auction
4. Proxy English Auction
5. Classic Dutch Auction
6. Vickrey Auction
7. Japanese Auction
8. Chinese Auction
9. Pay-Your-Bid Auctions
10. Aggregate Demand Auction
11. Negotiated Price Auction
12. Exchange

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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E-procurement.What’s in a definition?

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

I was reading a blog post from the Doctor over at Sourcing Innovation today titled “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to e-Procurement: Terminology” and I thought it was great as well as very timely.

Ultimately it is up to practitioners and solution providers of these tools to educate their customers as to what the proper terms are for the tools they are using. As an example E-RFI, E-RFP, E-RFQ. I have numbers of customers that have used other solution providers and not only are the definitions different by customer; they are actually different within a specific company. In some cases everything is referred to as a reverse auction and in other situations the companies have made up their own name for the service or tool.

This author uses Wikipedia and Wictionary quite often as a source and in this case, they have a very good definition that covers most of the terminology in the entire e-procurement space as well as related B2B and B2C internet based or private network based functions. As your company moves in the direction of a computerized supply chain management solution for your company understanding what you are asking for and what you are using will make both your job and that of your solution provider easier.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Retailers; how much are you really saving with reverse auctions and other e-procurement tools.

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Further more; your buyers can not save you as much as you might save if you used these types of tools. So when and if you do, make sure you measure and understand the true savings.

There are all sorts of e-procurement companies. Not all focus only on retail. However, all of them have web sites and all of the web sites tout savings that are all over the map. The question is what type of savings are they talking about. Following are some of examples.

1. Total low quote savings.
2. Total low quote company savings.
3. Total savings awarded companies.
4. Total realized savings.
5. Total savings versus budget period to date.
6. Total category savings.
7. Total savings year to date.
8. Total annual realized savings.
9. Total potential savings.

Companies really have to be specific as to what they ask each company relative to savings opportunities and make sure they have a formula in place for calculating savings over the course of the contract period for which the products are being sourced. There are all sorts of missed opportunities associated with actual event based low quote savings that can be created by lengthy review periods, delays in sample evaluation, extended award time periods, delays in contract dates, switching costs within the finance department, delays in shipping, specifications not being matched and specification creep that results in adding more expensive non specified items.

The bottom line is that you may have had low quote savings of 28% and that’s great. You may have had net realized savings of 18% and that’s great too. However if you don’t have a plan as to how you will measure savings you won’t know what caused the leakage and it can’t be fixed.

We look forward to and appreciate you comments.

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Are retailers still using reserve price reverse auctions any more?

Friday, July 30th, 2010

A reserve is also sometimes called the desired price, or a “qualification price”.  Careful thought is required on the part of the retailer in determining their reserve price. Quite often retailers just rely on their existing or current price from their last contract. If careful thought is not given, this may in fact create an unreasonable expectation that results in less participation from prospective suppliers, particularly if the market has changed dramatically in an upward direction since the last award of business. You have to be very careful that once a reserve is met that suppliers will stop bidding because you have already indicated your desire price point.

In a reserve revere auction if the bidding does not reach the “reserve price”, the buyer is not obligated to award the business based on the results of the reverse auction. This can also add risk to the participation level of suppliers. However once the reserve price is met, the buyer is obligated to award the business to a participating supplier or group suppliers based on previously published auction rules. Most reverse auctions today include terms and conditions that protect the retailer from awarding the business whether the reserve is met or not. This author would caution that if you are just trying to collect prices to analyze market conditions, tell the suppliers up front. If you set a reserve plan to award the business.

Additional pricing considerations can be given to adding other price points or qualifiers in a reserve price reverse auction such as entering a market price. In the case of fuel, this may be from a price index such as OPIS, Platt or Gulf Coast. This information can be visible or blind to the supplier, but let’s the retailer compare a suppliers mark up strategies. This also offers a nice opportunity to calculate cost avoidance during an up market.

We don’t see reserve auctions to often anymore, but understanding the different types of formats and tools available to you and assessing them in your event setup for their potential impact can add to the quality of the data collected and the event itself.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

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What’s new in retail e-procurement?

Friday, July 16th, 2010

A small retailer said to me last week that he did a form of reverse auction on his own. I asked how he accomplished this. The answer did not shock me, but I did chuckle a little. I’m glad he was a friend because he asked why I was smiling. The answer was that he sent out an email to three suppliers that he knew and asked for a price on a specific product. He told them in the email to make sure their price was there best offer and then called each once received and pressured them down with the threat of the other offers. We won’t get into the number of calls he had to make, the time it took to create the specification, the number of emails sent back and forth or lack of knowledge as to any new or additional sources of supply. We also won’t discuss the underlying psychology of a reverse auction and the tools that encourage quality bidding. The basic premise was solid and helped to reinforce why an automated system would out perform his results every time as well as provide a detailed audit trail.

At least in the example above, my friend was trying in his mind. What continues to concern this author is that many retail companies from lower tier I companies through all of tier II companies are not using any type of e-negotiation solution. Most of these solutions are relatively low cost hosted or SaaS oriented tools and available to them covering the entire P2P (procure to pay) process. In addition many of them belong to wholesalers that may use these tools themselves but don’t pass on all of the benefits to their customer.

I will continue to focus on this issue in the hope that if one company reads, watches, prints and uses any of this information and then executes because of it any or all of the following benefits may befall them.

1. Profits can and should improve
2. Quality can and should improve
3. Product Safety can and should improve
4. Environmental impact can and should improve
5. Prices can be compressed
6. New sources of supply can be found
7. Risk can be mitigated
8. Evergreening of contracts can be held in check
9. Existing jobs can be protected
10. New jobs can be created.

If these were the only reasons to try and get out the message as to the stunning effect that today’s e-procurement tools can have on an organization it would be enough. But we all know there are many more good reasons beyond the ten listed above.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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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

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Retail procurement needs to step up. Your Investors, Consumers and other Stakeholders demand it!

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

What troubles this author most about this is that the industries included in the Aberdeen Group study such as education, manufacturing, energy, utilities, financial services and others are all using these tools to trim their costs and improve earnings. Retail has had at best terrible earnings numbers historically with the supermarket industry averaging net earnings of below one percent (1%).

I was just talking with our CFO today about the impact of these tools. I used a very realistic example of a $2B supermarket company with one percent net earnings of $20M.  I can see the board now. If the same retailer were to source as little as $10M of their budgeted spend and reduced costs by just 20% or $2M, net earnings would improve in the budgeted year by 10%. If you are a CFO and can’t get excited about that, I’m not sure what would excite you.

This is not just rhetoric. We have customers with savings that are almost double that with a huge resulting impact on earnings. I know that there are a lot of bloggers and others out there that doubt the impact of e-procurement tools or think that reverse auctions as an example have run their course. Quite frankly that thinking is misguided because in the  retail industry the large majority of companies have never used these tools and have been doing business with many of the same suppliers for more than two years. These are both indicators of the fact that you are overpaying for products and services.

You can be comfortable and be busy or you can grab the bull by the horns and improve costs, earnings, stock price and even the bonuses of your management team.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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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.

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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.

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Ron Southard CEO of Safesourcing is featured with Tim Hull CEO of TDH Marketing in April issue of Technology First. Part I of III

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Technology First is an Ohio based industry-led, industry-driven trade association dedicated to proactively representing IT in their region and highlighting niche technology companies.

Part I.  E.Procurement Background .
Technology advancements are broadening the acceptance and utilization of e-procurement processes worldwide and making it available through internet access without the need for technology investment. The retail industry has been somewhat slow in considering e-procurement initiatives than have other industries. As a result, much of the lower tier one and tier two retail chains do not use the e-procurement resources that are readily available in the  marketplace today. Some companies would like to, but do not quite know how to get started. In several cases, even the big retail chains are sourcing a smaller percentage of their total spend than the levels being recorded in other industries.

E-procurement processes have been utilized in maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) applications in a variety of industries in addition to manufacturing materials supply. The purchase of office supplies, consumable items and numerous types of hired services from snow removal to landscaping and facilities maintenance can all realize great savings by using the e-procurement process which can range from a simple RFQ to a very detailed RFI. Although e-procurement is oftentimes perceived as merely the purchase of products and services over the Internet, e-procurement is much more than just a means for making purchases online. It is a well-managed, organized process that handles all interactions between the purchaser and the supplier. This process includes optimal management of communications, questions and answers, bids, previous pricing information, inventory utilization and reorder sequences, access to suppliers, historical cost savings, supplier transactions and much more. With built-in monitoring tools, a well managed e-procurement process provides numerous benefits, the most recognizable ones being improved cost control and maximized supplier performance.

With the technology based e-procurement services that are available today, there is no excuse for overlooking this opportunity to reduce supply costs and boost the bottom line. Getting started is easier than ever and more user-friendly, thanks to continuing technology advancements. With high speed bandwidth, reliable security solutions, enhanced software and integrated programs, the e-procurement process is proving itself on a daily basis in terms of performance and reliability.

Please join us tomorrow for Part II of this series titled Getting Started. To download the entire article please use the following link.

 We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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