Archive for the ‘Sourcing Strategy’ Category

Prickly Pear Cactus May Solve Plastic Problems

Monday, July 29th, 2019



Today’s post is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Consultant at SafeSourcing, Inc.

The prickly pear is sometimes used as a novelty ingredient in margaritas, or in jelly for Arizona tourists. The microscopic barbs on the paddles can be very painful if you brush up against this cactus. Researchers at a university in Mexico have developed a way to turn the pulp from the paddles into a biodegradable plastic. This could not have come at a better time as plastic pollution has reached epic proportions. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a floating mass of plastic) is now larger than Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico combined!

Plastic breaks down and eventually is consumed by marine life. An autopsy of a washed up whale in the Philippines revealed 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach. Humans also ingest roughly 50,000 microscopic pieces of plastic each year.

Prickly pear cactus paddles contain large amounts of sugars and gum, making them a good candidate to create “biopolymers”. Corn has been used for a long time in creating polymer products to make biodegradable spoons and cups. Corn, however, leaves a big carbon footprint when you consider the water, fertilizer, and energy used to grow and harvest it. The prickly pear cactus, however, requires very little water. More research has to be done in order to bring this to market.

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.


John D’Anna, AZ Central, 7/9/2019

Sourcing Music

Friday, July 26th, 2019


Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

There isn’t an organization on earth that doesn’t use music for its business in some capacity. Offices without any background music are awkward, phone lines without hold music makes customers think no one is actually holding for them, and video marketing is incomplete without song. Even though you may feel that the latest hit would be a perfect fit for your multimedia needs, without following the right procedures you could be on the hook for damages much larger than the actual licensing fees. But where do you start?

The rights to any musical composition’s distribution are typically managed by the publishing company under what are known as “mechanical licenses”. Sometimes the rights can be released directly by the copyright holder, but typically only under special circumstances such as when the request comes from a source with strong cross-promotional influence, or a friend of the artist themselves. The major Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. All commercial artists will be affiliated with one or the other organization. However, obtaining a license to use the music of one organization does not give you legal access to the libraries of all three PROs. There are, however, several third party companies who have licensing agreements with the PROs, and will grant access to specific works within their libraries for a fee. If you need to be able to customize how you use the creative work, such as by editing a song to fit within a TV commercial or radio jingle, obtaining licensing through a third party is usually the easiest way to go. However, if all you need is elevator music, obtaining licenses specific to your organization is probably unnecessary.

Typically, the best route for a company to take is to purchase systems with pre-existing music libraries already integrated. For example, many VOIP providers either have their own content created exclusively for their organization, or have purchased rights to creative works themselves. This places the burden of working through the licensing issues on the service provider you are using. However, if you want to make sure your service provider is compliant, you should ask for documentation proving compliance with current copyright laws identifying the corresponding PRO.

Please leave a comment or for more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with your procurement 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.


Creating our own limitations.

Thursday, July 25th, 2019



Todays post is from our SafeSourcing Archives.

Opportunities to learn are everywhere but can be used either to improve or damage your capabilities. For example, any married couple knows it’s not easy to have two flawed individuals share life together. However, even in less than ideal situations, there are opportunities to learn that you will never get anywhere else other than a situation where someone’s soul is borne to you in ways neither individual can hide from. There will be opportunities to learn how others think and operate, and to discover your own biases and shortcomings. However, there will also be opportunities to hide your insecurities, deny your flaws, blame shift, and stubbornly hold fast to your own LIMITATIONS. This is typically what people do when meeting viewpoints different from their own: We get defensive, myopic, and squander an opportunity to better ourselves.

Whether we like it or not, character traits like humility, and work ethic, will profoundly influence how well we perform our professional activities. No one promoted this fact more heavily than the author of. The 7 habits of highly effective people.

Stephen Covey proposed that maturity is a continuum from least to most mature by the steps of Dependence (reliance on others), to Independence (reliance on self), to Interdependence (Independently chosen reliance on others, to accomplish cooperatively what we cannot independently). This is counterintuitive because we typically think of Independence as being the most mature, in the form of the lone wolf leader, or the maverick who does things his/her way. But the truth is it’s far more difficult and beneficial to assume someone else might know something you don’t. By definition, this means you have to let other people make decisions out of their unique perspective and expertise that you WOULD NOT, or else you’ll always be LIMITED by your own understanding, and no organization will ever be all it can be without utilizing the collective expertise of the group.

Are your limits strictly determined by how hard you work? How fearless you are? How smart you are? What if you’re limiting yourself by making assumptions about how much value other individuals or organizations can contribute to your business? Do we have the strength of character to admit there are individuals or organizations that can perform certain tasks better than we can? Leaning on other’s expertise isn’t an insult to your capabilities; it’s a means of interdependent improvement.

There are variables in our lives we genuinely can’t control, and we shouldn’t want to, especially when it comes to learning through how we work and relate with other people. If we truly want to extend beyond our current limits, we have to allow external factors to force us to explore outside of our current paradigms, and deliberately chose to EXPAND, not LIMIT, our understanding through it.

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.

We look forward to your comments.


Procuring Your Proprietary Product- Part 5

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019



Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of Major Accounts and Special Projects at SafeSourcing Inc.

Reminder of what proprietary foods are: those which are not standardized under regulations and may contain primary ingredients and some generic additives. For examples, energy drinks and custard powder which contain starch, dextrose, flavor and color. These foods can be made from milk or milk products, from carbohydrates, with or without a basis of milk, from meat, fish, or eggs, from vegetables, fruits, or nuts, and sometimes from fatty substances.1

So why would you expose your proprietary food item to potentially be copied or even the recipe stolen?

You will have the opportunity to grow your business, your bottom line, and depending on how hands on you are with your product will be added time. Some people have the opportunity to take out parts of their proprietary recipe to bid. What are the most expensive items you purchase to make your product? Are there items that have pricing tied to a market index? Do you just go to a wholesale club or foodservice provider for your ingredients?

Looking at your spend and looking at your savings opportunity may open the opportunities for you to engage suppliers in a bid. In many summer salads, mayonnaise is a key ingredient. Do you have a flavor profile preference? Do you prefer a specific brand? Did you know that you can take your specific requirement to bid? Many of the major manufactures of mayonnaise have participated in online request for quotes through SafeSourcing and our clients have received an average of 20% savings from their preferred brand or flavor profile of mayonnaise.

Determine your item(s) you want to take to market and the volume or quantities you will need, be prepared to have the discussion of a 1-year agreement with no price increases versus a 2- year agreement with an index escalator/de-escalator percentage added. You will also need to provide current pricing, purchase history, invoices, or past contracts to your e-procurement company. Where do you store your item(s)? How often is it shipped to your location? Is freight included or added to your pricing? All of these details will make sure your needs, wants, and expectations are met throughout the process.

In the final part, part six of this series, the author will provide the details of why it is important to test and sample the proprietary product before signing that final contract. Meanwhile, SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your proprietary product 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.



Using Uniforms as a Marketing Tool

Monday, July 22nd, 2019


Today’s post is by Ashley Riviello, Account Manager at SafeSourcing, Inc.

I have currently been working on a project for a client at SafeSourcing for Uniforms/Workwear. This category can range from just plain tees, to aprons, to work boots. Many places in the US require that employees wear certain attire to work. It keeps the workplace looking unified and also places a nice role in free marketing. You can actually use your employee’s uniforms as marketing for your company. If a customer is already in your store or office, they’ve probably already chosen your brand. However, decking out all your employees in uniforms will give a look or professionalism and cohesiveness that will impress visitors and clients. Additionally, putting all your employees in the same or similar work uniforms will make them easily identifiable in your store. As such, customers will have an easy time finding someone to answer questions, help with a sale, or generally improve their experience in your facility. Anything to improve the customer experience is a positive marketing tool.

However, if you don’t have an office or maybe not a place where customers come to you, having work uniforms with a logo or your company name can get people’s attention. Every person your employee interacts with while wearing a branded uniform is a person that you’re advertising to, essentially for free. In a method that’s approaching subliminal advertising, this is a subtle and easy way to increase your marketing capacity. When you’re out and about grabbing lunch or running errands and you wearing your uniform, people notice. Weather they ask you about it or not they see your logo and your company name and they think about it next time they may need that service.

According to Market Watch workwear/uniforms is expected to grow 4.3% over the next five years, will reach 72,900 million US$ in 2023, from 56,700 million US$ in 2017, according to a new study. That is a huge opportunity to come up with a logo or something that people will be drawn to. Even if your company does not have uniforms, buying t-shirts for your employees to wear outside of work, gets the name out there and gets people talking and asking. It takes no effort and no time. It’s an easy marketing tool and trust me employees love free T-Shirts.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help in your procurement efforts, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.



Sourcing Green

Friday, July 19th, 2019



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

Many of us have noticed the global effects of climate change more and more. Pictures of polar ice caps disappearing, the Great Barrier Reef dying, honey bees being few and far between, and record high temperatures breaking everyday are just some of the things we are facing. So, what can each of us do to help slow the damage?

Individually, we can try to consume and waste less. Home recycling has grown in availability and helps to lower the amount of waste sent to landfills and helps reduce the amount of plastic waste polluting ocean life. In addition, we are now able to use more energy efficient machines and lights in our homes. This helps reduce the amount of fossil fuel energy needed and even lowers our utility bills. So, what about our organizations?

Businesses often take the lead in their help combatting climate change. So, what are some things they can do? For one, many retailers are switching from single use plastic bags to reusable bags. These bags will help reduce the amount of bags needing to be made, reducing energy needs, and reduce the number that wind up affecting the ocean life directly. In addition, many companies are also switching from single use plastic bottles and utensils to biodegradable products. Some can be made from hemp, avocado seeds, and even corn and can degrade into the earth in comparably short amounts of time compared to the plastics currently being used. Not all companies have implemented these measures, so what can you do?

The first step to using greener products is to source them. A procurement partner, like SafeSourcing, can help your organization every step of the way, from identifying what options are available to implementing a change with continued support throughout. We can help your own team source the products and services that can help reduce our carbon footprint and can save money while doing so.

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.





Baseball Season and eProcurement Part 4

Thursday, July 18th, 2019



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

For those keeping score at home, this is the fourth installment in the Baseball Season and eProcurement series. In the previous posts in this series, we highlighted some examples of how SafeSourcing customers have achieved and enjoyed hitting singles and doubles in their online Request for Quote (RFQ) Events. A triple is an Event that creates savings between 15% and 19.99%.

In the past, we had reviewed a couple of different examples for each. In today’s post, we’ll focus in on one interesting example of a triple. In future installments of this series, we’ll focus on Home Runs and Grand Slams.

Today’s example is one that many might not think of when they consider eProcurement or reverse auctions. Often, when considering categories for eProcurement, many of our customers first look to indirect spend items with many focused on supplies. While those are great items and reducing the cost of copy paper and other suppliers is fantastic, there are many more opportunities that are often left out of consideration.

One great example of this type of overlooked item is prepared chicken salad. Because this is an item that will vary in style, taste, and quality from supplier to supplier, many of our customers would not consider sourcing their prepared chicken salad using SafeSourcing’s RFx tools to reduce costs. That said, one of our more experienced customers did just that with really incredible results. This customer, a retailer, had a very large annual spend in their chicken salad that they utilize in their foodservice offering. Their savings was an incredible triple that generated a triple with their current supplier and some alternatives. What that meant was that not only could they have gone elsewhere if the samples from the competitor were of the right perceived quality, they could also get that savings from their current supplier and not change a single thing other than the price they pay. That is exactly what any customer would want to happen in this scenario. This proves that even if the item can’t be defined as precisely as a ream of copy paper can, the process and the tools used by SafeSourcing will reduce your costs. This customer knows that’s true and has over $650K in savings to remind them.

By the way, after this particular Event, the incumbent supplier also called SafeSourcing to reduce their costs and they were successful in that as well. So far, that customer has hit a double and a home run.

There are many results like these and there are interesting stories including great savings dollars behind each. In the next entry in this series, things will get pretty exciting as we look at some examples of Home Runs.

Contact SafeSourcing, Inc. if you’re interested in learning more about how RFQ Events can help your company advance the bases and achieve savings.



Retail spend management basics.

Monday, July 15th, 2019


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

No you do not!

A major step to trying to understand where to spend your effort when building an e-RFX attack plan is to understand the detail of your company’s P&L and how it can provide clues as to where you might have the most impact.

I meet with buyers or other e-procurement knowledge workers on a regular basis that want to know what categories are the best to select in the short term to prove the benefit of  e-negotiation tools. This quite honestly is not a bad approach for pilot selection as it creates an almost sure thing that results in a lot of excitement and the energy to move the process forward within a company.

Quite often before meeting with a new client, I will analyze their annual report and their summary and detailed P&L if available in order to get a good idea as to where the opportunities are hiding that can have an immediate impact. However in order to have long term viability as a way to conduct the business of buying, a more detailed analysis is required. Quite frankly before you can even begin to discuss vendor or supplier selection, management or evaluation this process is critical.

Key data required to prepare you for this analysis can consist of but is certainly not limited to the following. All of this data is readily available from a variety of industry sources. Quite often the data is a year old but you can bet it is better than anything else your customer may be using today.

1. Research and accumulate your specific Industry data
2. Analyze last years P&L
3. Compare your cost of goods with your Industries averages
4. Compare your gross margins with your Industry averages
5. Compare your net earnings with your industry averages
6. Conduct the same comparisons with selected retailers with whom you compete. Pretty easy if they are public.
7. Compare your departmental sales and margin results to those of your specific industry.
8. Look for department level anomalies.
9. Look for specific product anomalies within major and sub departments.
10.Select top categories that are below plan and outside industry average for cost of goods and margin.
11.Select top products that are underperforming to industry averages and plan

One example of the above might be to look at the grocery department sub category of pet care. Now drill down to the sub category of cat and dog products and a list of all accessories. Now look at what products are underperforming to the industry and plan. Continue your analysis with other underperforming categories.

In summary, did you need a spend cube to try and figure this out? No you did not. You needed someone that understands your industry and your P&L with some analytical common sense.

If you’d like to learn how these techniques can assist you, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager.

As always, we look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What are Amazon Alexa Skills?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019



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

With Amazon Prime Day rapidly approaching, it might be time for you to consider purchasing an Amazon Echo if you do not already own one. The Echo is a voice activated; internet connected smart speaker that contains a built-in virtual assistant named Alexa. Alexa will follow voice activated commands and can answer questions, stream music from current music services, set alarms and timers and control smart home devices such as lights, alarm systems and thermostats. If the Echo is a little out of your price range, or you are looking for a more inexpensive alternative, you may consider purchasing an Amazon Echo Dot. This is a hockey puck sized device that is smaller than the Echo and about half the price. Since the Dot is smaller, the sound quality will not be as good as the Echo but is still packs all of the same features. One of the things that make these devices so powerful are the Alexa skills. Alexa comes with a set of built-in skills, but other third-party skills can be downloaded as well. You can think of skills like apps that you download to your smartphone or tablet. These skills can be used for a variety of things such as answering questions, receiving weather forecasts, controlling smart home devices and receiving news content. There is an endless selection of skills that are available and here are a few of the most popular.

  • Apple Music
  • Nest Thermostat
  • Philips Hue
  • Logitech Harmony
  • iRobot Home
  • Amazon Storytime
  • Spelling Bee
  • ESPN
  • Sleep Sounds
  • Zyrtec Daily AllergyCast
  • Uber/Lyft
  • NYC Subway
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • GrubHub
  • OpenTable

If you are interested in upgrading any of your electronic devices, feel free to contact SafeSourcing. We can gather all the necessary information for you and help you decide which devices meet 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.




Sourcing Project Fingerprints

Friday, June 28th, 2019


Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

The day we are born we all get a set of identifying marks that make us unique; our fingerprints.  Not one us have the same set of fingerprints and so they have become one of the things that identify who we are to the rest of the world.

In much the same way our physical fingerprints identify us, how we approach and handle tasks in our everyday lives have characteristics similar to our fingerprints that identify us as the ones involved with those tasks; how we write; how we speak; how we lead; how we organize; how we communicate.  Each of us puts “fingerprints” on our work that identify us as being involved with a project.  Let’s look at a few areas to help you determine what fingerprints you are leaving behind.

Research – Every sourcing project begins with the research.  Research includes understanding what you are buying, how much you are buying, who you are currently buying that product from and who else sells that product that you could buy it from.  The diligence you show in digging up the documents, emails, contracts, potential new vendors leaves your fingerprint on a project a major way.

Tool use – Tools range from pencil & paper to Excel spreadsheets to fullblown eSourcing solutions that intelligently help you organize the procurement process.  Knowing what tools you have at your disposal and how to use them can mark a project with your involvement.  Also, knowing when the tools you have aren’t sufficient is equally important.

Organization – Knowing all of the details does no good unless the organization of a project is done well.  Great procurement professionals can assess a project; determine who needs to be involved; determine what each phase of the project should be and who should be brought in to assist with each step of the process.  Knowing what to expect and organizing appropriately can be the difference between a successful project and one that fails to meet expectations.

Communication – Communication is tightly connected with organization.  Without effective communication among all parties involved in the organized project, including what the expectations of each member are, many projects fail before they ever begin.

Desire – The wild card to the fingerprint you leave on a project is desire.  Desire can originate from many different sources but the goal is always the same; completing a successful project in the time it was expected to happen.  Among each of the five components mentioned here, desire will mark projects as yours and will many times be the difference-maker in a project being completed correctly and in a timely manner.  When you strongly care about a project being successful, the majority of the time it will be.

For more information on SafeSourcing or how you can leave better fingerprints on your sourcing projects, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.