Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Excuses vs. Reasons

Monday, June 17th, 2019

 

 

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

What is the difference between an excuse and a reason? Certainly, anyone could find the definition for each and understand better. For reference, here is what Dictionary.com lists as the definition for excuse and reason.

  • Excuse: an explanation offered as a reason for being excused; a plea offered in extenuation of       a fault or for release from an obligation, promise, etc.
  • Reason: a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc.

At SafeSourcing we have encountered many excuses and reasons from a variety of sources. We hear both from our vendor partners every single day in regard to the invitations we extend to them to submit proposals during our eRFx Events on behalf of our customers. This is not a negative statement, but simply an observation. What is interesting about excuses and reasons is that can both have the same effect.

The excuses and reasons vary fairly widely. Let’s look at a few examples in an effort to understand them.

One reason we might find that a vendor we have invited to quote on our customer’s business is that they do not have the capacity at the present to provide the products or services at the scale that the customer requires. This is a reason because it is based on facts. This reason is perfectly understandable. Another reason a vendor might list for declining our invitation is their inability to provide pricing at competitive rates. Perhaps their own supply chain does not allow for the appropriate level of discount that our customer requires. Again, this is a reason why a vendor cannot participate in an eRFx Event.

Excuses can tend to be a little hazy and difficult to support by facts as reasons can. One example of an excuse we might hear in response to our invitation to participate in an eRFx Event is the lack of time. A vendor representative might offer their travel schedule as their excuse for declining noting that they do not have time at present. While it’s possible that time restraints exist, in most cases, this can be worked out so that the vendor can still participate. Another example of an excuse may be found in the vendor’s personal preferences. The vendor might prefer to work directly with the customer to develop a proposal. This excuse is fairly transparent in that they would prefer not to participate competitively in an eRFx Event, but rather deal directly and exclusively with the customer. It’s easy to imagine why this would be beneficial to the vendor, but it’s more difficult to see how this benefits the customer.

These are only a handful of examples of excuses and reasons, but they illustrate that there is a difference between the two and that they are not equal in status. Vendors aren’t the only parties that have reasons and excuses, of course. Sometimes our customers have reasons why they choose not to use eRFx Events for their sourcing even though to do so with SafeSourcing has historically caused savings in excess of 24%. Some reasons are perfectly understandable such as when the customer is in an existing contract that currently prevents their use of our services. Some excuses are just that like when a customer prefers to do business with a certain vendor because that vendor has “been a good partner” to them over the years. This statement may be true, but tends to be more of an explanation than a basis.

At SafeSourcing, we always encourage our vendor partners and our customers to consider carefully the decisions they make. We understand reasons, but we respectfully challenge excuses to the benefit of all parties involved.

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

References:

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/reasony

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/excuse?s=t

 

Don’t just say thanks to active military or veterans today. Do it every day!

Monday, May 27th, 2019

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Happy Memorial Day!

 

 

Memorial Day Observance

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

 

Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of the Customer Focus Team & Project Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

memorialday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The article below is sited from: http://www.cute-calendar.com/event/memorial-day/5719-usa.html

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 25 in 2015). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I.

Many people observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at National Cemeteries.

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars take donations for poppies in the days leading up to Memorial Day; the poppy’s significance to Memorial Day is the result of the John McCrae poem “In Flanders Fields.”

In addition to remembrance, Memorial Day is also used as a time for picnics, barbecues, family gatherings, and sporting events. One of the longest-standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, an auto race which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911. The Coca-Cola 600 has been held later the same day since 1961. (From: Wikipedia, license: CCA-SA)

Whether you are observing Memorial Day by volunteering your time placing flags on the graves of soldiers, volunteering your time to spend with wounded soldiers, or are just spending family quality time together, we at SafeSourcing wish you a safe and memory making Memorial Day.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help with your business needs,  or information on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

The Ability of the Market to Bring Buyers and Sellers Together in an Open Environment

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

 

Today’s blog is by Alex Borbely, Vice President of Sales at SafeSourcing, Inc.

Recent advances in electronics and internet technologies have had major impacts on supply chain management and on sourcing strategies and practices. One such development that has attracted the attention of many companies and gained popularity is the reverse auction, also referred to as on-line reverse bidding. Over the past few years, many companies in a variety of industries have started using reverse auctions. The list includes GE, Boeing, Sun Microsystems, HP, P&G, Dow Chemical, Staples, US Foods and many more.

In speaking recently with a CFO of a leading company in their vertical who believes in using reverse auction technology and has used this procurement method in past organizations that he was also the CFO, he stated “If you really believe in what you do with procurement and reverse bidding, which is more measurable directly to the P&L than any solution I have ever deployed, then reverse bidding is surely the best procurement strategy that a company can deploy. Not only in-direct spends but also capitol and direct spends. It can save jobs as well.” This CFO can effectively argued that nothing they (procurement departments) are working on can have a larger impact on their company and employees. Not new stores, not new branding or new products. Nothing.

The most obvious benefit from reverse auctions is in purchasing cost savings to the buyer. As any dollar saved in purchasing cost adds a dollar to the bottom line. Reduction of procurement costs has always been a high priority for top management. Reverse auctions/on-line bidding can have significant impact on reducing purchasing costs.

SafeSourcing eProcurement, particularly reverse auctions, are a relatively new way to increase your bottom-line using e-Procurement tools to enhance the spend process. Utilizing new technologies as mentioned will add profit dollars without selling one new customer buying your products or services. The savings are traditionally 10X your investment in e-Procurement tools. You’re just accepting a different way to solicit bids/pricing even with your incumbent vendors that you currently work with.

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

 

 

Baseball Season and eProcurement Part 3

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

 

 

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

This is the third entry 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 a Single. At SafeSourcing a Single is achieved when a customer attains between 5% and 9.99% savings in their online Request for Quote (RFQ) Events.

Today’s blog post will similarly review some examples of when our customers have hit a Double. SafeSourcing defines a Double as between 10% and 14.99% savings. Hitting a Double is a very good outcome for any category. In future installments of this series, we’ll focus on Triples, Home Runs, and Grand Slams.

The first example we will review is for bottled water. One of SafeSourcing’s retail customers was due to source the bottled water that they sell in their stores. They had the impression that given the limited number of suppliers that they were aware of that could support their network of stores, that negotiating this category was not possible. While this category does only have a finite number of suppliers based on any given geography, there are plenty to be able to host a competitive RFQ Event. In this case, five suppliers quoted including their incumbent. Their incumbent is a large and well-known national brand. As a result of the competitive bidding process being paired with the vendors that SafeSourcing identified and brought into the live RFQ, the customer was able to achieve an impressive 13.84% savings. Best of all, this low quote savings came from their incumbent supplier which meant they would easily attain the savings beginning with their next shipments.

Our next example is from another retail customer that operates many pharmacy locations and sells a wide variety of items in their stores. One of the categories that we focused on with this customer was their propane tank exchange service. This has become a common category for RFQ as there are several suppliers that operate nationally and many more that operate regionally. The incumbent supplier is one of the largest national suppliers in this category. Again, SafeSourcing identified and brought in three additional suppliers that were qualified and capable of servicing this customer’s locations. The result was a 14.48% savings. It was nearly a Triple. Here again, the customer was able to lower the price substantially while retaining their current source of supply.

There are many results like these and there are interesting stories including great savings dollars behind each. In the next entry in this series, some examples of Triples will be shared.

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

Avoiding “change blindness”

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives.

Let’s test how well you can focus on detailed activities. Copy and paste into your address bar, or click the following link: https://youtu.be/Ahg6qcgoay4[1]

How did you do? There are several versions of this type of video, but of course the point of them all is to illustrate our ability to miss the obvious when we are more focused on specific tasks. Perhaps you can relate to more common errors of oversight:

Have you ever been made aware after the fact, that you completely missed a detail about a project you were working on, which should have been totally obvious? Have you ever read over a document five times, only to discover a major error on the sixth read through? Stared at the same computer screen for months before noticing an assortment of buttons that could have made life easier?

Our minds have a bandwidth limitation, often described as being approximately 1.6 conversations at a time (including the one going on in your head)[2]. Focusing on one complex task, requires us to tune out certain others in order to fully process that task. One of the first researchers to call attention to this phenomenon was Dr. Marc Green, who once said “Inattentional blindness is not a mental aberration; it is the norm. Conscious perception is the abnormality”.[3] So there are benefits to our ability to tune everything else out and focus on one task, and there are benefits to being aware of a wide scope of inputs as well. Working Memory[4], the type of intelligence associated with your short-term bandwidth, is uncertain as to if it is static or malleable. So how can we make the most of both sides of our concentration capabilities?

Situationally prioritize your focus – There’s a reason why they say the best way to remember names is to not focus on what you are saying when being introduced to someone new. Knowing what you know now about what you do or don’t notice and remember based on how you’re thinking, you can apply the right strategy for each situation. When you are working on detailed, technical, or financial activities, you probably need to tune everything else out and laser focus. When you are evaluating a new project, finalizing work, or observing a new environment, you probably need to tune yourself out, and take in your surroundings.

Practice “open observing” – Look at all content twice: The first time looking for whatever you were specifically trying to focus on to accomplish the task, the second time not looking for anything in particular, letting the full scope of your capabilities be your frame of reference instead of the specific thing you are being asked for.

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.

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[1] This link leads to content and views not controlled, approved or condoned by SafeSourcing Inc. User views at their own risk.

[2] “Avoiding common RFP mistakes: SafeSourcing Blog.” 2015. 15 Dec. 2015 <http://blog.safesourcing.com/2015/07/30/avoiding-common-rfp-mistakes/>

[3] “Visual Expert Human Factors: Inattentional Blindness …” 2002. 15 Dec. 2015 <http://www.visualexpert.com/Resources/inattentionalblindness.html>

[4] “Working memory definition – MedicineNet – Health and …” 2005. 15 Dec. 2015 <http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=7143>

Retail Store Fixtures

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Senior Procurement Specialist at SafeSourcing Inc.

Over the past five years, the Retail Store Fixture Dealers industry has grown by 5.5% to reach revenue of $5 billion in 2018. In the same timeframe, the number of businesses has declined by -0.6% and the number of employees has grown by 1.4%.

With the closing of some major retailers, like Toys R Us and Sears, you would think that the opposite would be true, with the used retail fixtures flooding the market from these closed stores. Higher disposable income and stronger consumer confidence is expected to boost retail sales, and increase the demand for retail fixtures. This is also due to brick and mortar retailers reinventing themselves to stay a step ahead of the online retailers.

Visual merchandising is key to staying relevant. Store planning, design, and visual effects are important for attracting customers and enticing them to make purchases. I personally prefer buying online because it is usually cheaper, and I save myself the hassle of making a trip to the mall. I also end up purchasing more than I intended, proving that clever merchandising does what it is designed to do. Some customers still prefer to touch and try on things before buying, which is why in-store shopping remains the most popular buying option, followed by websites and then mobile apps.

The Retail Store Fixture Dealers industry primarily acquires retail store fixtures from manufacturers and resells them to retail industries. The industry includes a wide variety of products, such as showcases and counters; gondola store shelving; glass, wood and plastic displays; display racks; gridwall; slatwall and accessories; forms and mannequins; sign holders; and food and jewelry displays.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business 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.

References….………………………………………….

https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-trends/specialized-market-research-reports/specialist-engineering-infrastructure-contractors/construction-building-services/retail-store-fixture-dealers.html>

 

 

How Fast Can You Change?

Friday, April 12th, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is our archives at  SafeSourcing.

Our CEO Ron Southard has decided to repost this message because if you are not changing you are falling behind. So, how fast can you change? It better be immediately if not faster. And it may be that every associate needs to think of themselves as the agent of change both personally, professionally and for their company. So get cracking because in the time it takes you to read this post you will have lost ground with your competition.

What is intelligence? Encarta defines it as “the ability to learn facts and skills and apply them, especially when this ability is highly developed.” Another definition, famously attributed to Albert Einstein, is “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” If we consider the attributes we typically assign to intelligence, we can easily see how they all involve change:

  • Learning requires memorizing new information, which requires a change in the structure of the brain.
  • Someone whose circumstances demand a change in behavior, is not considered intelligent if they never perform the needed change.
  • A business that adapts and reinvents itself in tandem with its changing environment is considered to be very well-led and innovative.
  • In any career, it’s the dynamic and adaptable people who fill top management. Those who are given new directives and take a long time to enact those changes typically don’t gain traction.

If the ability to change is directly correlated to intelligence, then can a lack of intelligence be defined as stagnation? An inability to adapt and change? In short, yes, Dr. Edward Miller, CEO of the hospital

at Johns Hopkins University, stated in a 2005 interview, “If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle.” It’s been well-established in the medical community that even when the threat is death, the majority of people will not change previously established bad habits. Similar findings have been well established in business management studies. The old-school way of thinking is to assume that everyone just needs more threats, pressure, and dire consequences to get moving. But a one size fits all approach has never worked well in managing human beings. The truth has always been that negative pressure leads to faking change in order to make the boss, the doctor, the spouse, etc, happy with what they’re seeing, even though the truth is performance is still severely lacking.

While some amount of negative pressure will always exist, and will always be essential, what creates long term change is consistent benefit incentives. For example, when people don’t have any hope for the future of their health, their jobs, relationships, etc, adding pressure that says “things are just going to get worse if you don’t change” just adds to the hopelessness of the individual, which they interpret as more reason not to change. However, when someone is given a compliment at work, starts seeing results from exercise, or getting praise from a spouse, they will often see it as a glimpse into something better that is proven to be attainable.

Once we have created the right environment for change, the hard work of implementation can begin. This implementation has to start with paying attention. When a new policy shows up on our desk, we have to take it seriously, read it, memorize as much as necessary, and then change our behavior accordingly. When we see something go wrong, and we don’t change, most people would call that unintelligent. However, when something goes wrong and change happens quickly, effectively, and long-term, we are certainly displaying intelligent behavior. In a world of constant change, the spoils go to the nimble.1

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.

Referances——————————————————–

  1. https://hbr.org/2011/07/adaptability-the-new-competitive-advantage

 

 

Baseball Season and eProcurement Part 2

Friday, April 5th, 2019

 

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

This post is part 2 of Baseball Season and eProcurement series. In the last months post, Baseball Season and eProcurement Part 1 we discussed how at SafeSourcing we measure eProcurement success using baseball terminology as our customers watch their online Request for Quote (RFQ) Events.

Today’s post will focus on the importance of getting on base with a Single. At SafeSourcing, we define a Single as an RFQ Event that has savings of at least 5%, but less than 10%. In future installments of this series, we’ll focus on Doubles, Triples, Home Runs, and Grand Slams. It’s too easy to say that the goal of an RFQ Event should be a Home Run or a Grand Slam. After all, with an average savings percentage that is nearly a Grand Slam at 24.8%, it’s fair to expect big results.

As you probably know, base hits are very important in baseball and that holds true in eProcurement. For some categories including certain commodity items, a Single is actually a very significant win. For other categories, a single represents a last mile effort to drive out even more savings on a category that the customer has already done a reasonable job of negotiating without eProcurement.

In one recent example of a high spend category that had been negotiated by the customer pretty well before an RFQ Event, we attained a Single. This category was plastic bags and was a closely monitored category for this retailer. This was still a high-value win for the customer as it was a simple RFQ Event to prepare for and achieved immediate savings dollars representing hundreds of thousands in savings over the term of the award.

Another recent example of a Single achieved by a SafeSourcing customer was in an RFQ Event that included items like various pickles and peppers. In this example, the customer had been presented with a price increase. Despite the price increase, they were able to attain a 6.93% savings on the category. Considering that they were able to avoid the increase and then some. That is a solid base hit.

There are many results like these and there are interesting stories including great savings dollars behind each. In the next entry in this series, some examples of Doubles will be shared.

For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

 

 

 

 

My thoughts on the use of e-procurement tools by retail collective buying organizations.

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

 

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

I originally wrote this post 10 years ago. While a lot has changed, a lot has not. Many collective buyer organizations, share groups and even some GPO’s  are understaffed and lack the category expertise to serve their constituency adequately on a total spend basis particularly in the retail space.

Many of these structures believe that they speak on behalf of their retail members for anything and everything that they source. Unfortunately many of their members do not agree. These are independent business people. If they have an opportunity to reduce their cost of goods, expenses and capital spend it is their right to do so. Are they all getting the best pricing today. don’t believe it for a minute.

These business structures have been around for a long time. Many have evolved to use cutting edge e- procurement tools, but many have not. Do their retailers also benefit from their use of these tools in order to reduce their net landed costs? I’ve been in the supply chain since 1970 and the answer is NO!

This author remembers being a young salesperson over 40 years ago (ouch!). I convinced a customer to buy some new point of sale equipment. I was really excited when I took the contract to the customer for signature. Once there, the retailer told me I had to get a purchase order from Cressy Dockham who was their wholesaler and they would tell me how much discount the retailer was to receive. Cressy Dockham is no longer in business today. They were located in Americus Georgia. I worked in Boston. Thus began a long relationship with collective buyers across all segments of the industry. Explanation of fees was always a part of the discussion.

These types of organization can go by a lot of different names such wholesaler, collective buyer, consortium, cooperative, share groups and more. They all have one thing in common. They consolidate purchasing volumes for a wide array of groups that may have very similar business structures, but can also be wildly different. Some retailers may actually belong to several different buying groups because their primary group does not offer expertise in a certain area.

Obviously, these organizations are not in business to lose money. There are some non profit membership organizations that do return earnings to their members on a pre-planned basis such as quarterly or annually.

As a result of volume consolidation or aggregation, these organizations often qualify for much larger discounts from manufacturers and suppliers than do their independent retailer partners. In many cases the full discount is not passed on to retailers in order to cover the cost of administering the programs. Additionally, other service fees may also be added to invoices.

Today’s advanced e-procurement tools make it much easier to accomplish collective buying. Large and small retailers alike now have the capability of viewing a much broader universe of suppliers while also coordinating and participating in collaborative events from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Suppliers now have an opportunity to earn business they could never compete for in the past.

Retailers should ask their collective buyers how they plan to make the use of these tools available and how many suppliers they have to choose from by category.

I look forward to your comments.