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

February 17th, 2021

Is Critical in Indicating the True Value of a Product or Service.

 

Today’s is our archives 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

 

 

The customer experience matters more today than ever.

February 16th, 2021

Within the span of one hour this weekend, I experienced distinctly different service levels

  

Today’s post is from our archives at SafeSourcing.

This is an oldie and still works today, maybe more than ever.

Within the span of one hour this weekend, I experienced both ends of the customer service experience at two retail establishments. The first was at my bank and the second at the Apple store. I went to the bank for standard cash withdraw. The line at the ATM was exceedingly long so I elected to go inside. I was greeted with a more manageable line and no greeting from anyone at the bank. After 10 minutes of waiting I heard, “next”. I was asked what I needed help with. I did not have my account number for my transaction and I would have thought it was inconvenient for my banker to retrieve this information. It was an overall unfriendly transaction.

Next I went to the Apple store to purchase a case for my iPad. It was equally as busy, likely more so. I was immediately greeted and asked what was bringing me in that day. I was taken to the accessory area and asked what I was specifically looking for. I was then asked if I needed help with anything else. All while smiling I must add. I left happier than when I went in.

I want to buy from people and organizations that treat me like I matter. When I select a supplier, their culture matters. The way I will be treated matters. The way my company and my clients are treated matters.

Let SafeSourcing better manage your sourcing projects. We enjoy bringing this blog to you every week and hope you find value in it. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs 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.

 

 

Would You Rather Barter?

February 15th, 2021

Recently I learned that the old way of obtaining goods, bartering.........

 

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

Recently I learned that the old way of obtaining goods, bartering, which pre dates many currencies you can see around now, is still around and for a very good reason. Bartering is what many people used to obtain goods or services when they did not have money or currency to pay for a good or service. It involved offering a different good or service in exchange. For example, a bread maker may offer breads to a butcher in exchange for a supply of meat or perhaps someone would do some amount of farm work for someone in exchange for room and board. This barter system is still in place today in at least one industry and the reason behind it is an interesting one having to do with poaching and furs.

The Zoo industry is an often loved, but also controversial industry. While every day, many people visit zoos to see, explore, and learn more about the animals we wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. And often these animals are obtained in a unique way. Many years ago, the fur trade and the zoo industry led to greater poaching and animal hunting, especially for endangered animals. Because people wanted zoos to preserve the lives of wild animals and discourage poaching and illegal captures and selling of animals, many countries agreed to only allow zoos to barter for their animals.

This barter system to zoos meant that they could not buy any of the animals that they house. This would directly affect those that were looking to profit from trapping rare and large animals by no longer allowing any cash payments. Instead, zoos could trade animals with other zoos. Ultimately, some animals are more easily obtained and so some animals have been used to help with the bartering. For example, one zoo in the United Kingdom primarily trades jellyfish for other animals within its zoo and aquarium.

While bartering may work for zoos and be a deterrent for those who wish to profit at the expense of animals, most of us would struggle doing business this way. Outside of the neighborhood gestures of trading baked goods or soup for help with shoveling snow or mowing a lawn, business must operate on a buy and sell agreement. If your organization falls into this category, which likely does if you aren’t a zoo, then you can use the tools and experience SafeSourcing offers to help you find the right organization to do business with, find the right product or service to fit your need, and know that you are getting a good and fair price for those goods and services.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help with your procurement needs or on our

Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service RepresentativeWe have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

Shell Posts Losses

February 12th, 2021

Royal Dutch Shell PLC reported fourth-quarter losses

 

Today’s blog is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Leader for SafeSourcing Inc.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC reported fourth-quarter losses as the company reals from the pandemic fallout.  International oil companies are reporting the worst performance in decades.  Energy companies cut spending, cut jobs, and wrote down values of their assets.  “Shell on Thursday reported a fourth-quarter loss on a net current-cost-of supplies basis—a figure similar in the income that U.S. oil companies report—of $4.5 billion down from a profit of $871 million in the year-earlier.”1

Shell reported a loss of $19.9 billion for a year, compared to a profit of $15.3 billion in 2019.  Other oil companies such as Exxon Mobile, Chevron, and BP also reported losses.  Profits were hit by the fall of oil and gas prices and weak refining margins.

Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said he is optimistic that the second half of the year will improve.  Oil demand is 5% to 7% below levels in 2019, but should return to those levels in 2022, as the aviation sector recovers.  “Shell said it would raise its first-quarter dividends by 4%, in line with the commitment made to shareholders last year of annual increases, after cutting it in April for the first time since World War II by two-thirds.”2 . Shell would like to cut their debt to $65 billion from $75.4 billion by the end of the fourth quarter.  That would be down from $79 billion from the previous year.

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.

References………………………

1, 2 Sarah McFarlane, WSJ, 2/5/2020

 

Teamwork in a Moment of Crisis or Emergency

February 11th, 2021

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” ― Phil Jackson

 

 

Today’s post is an older repost but still relevant from our archives at SafeSourcing Inc.

While these guidelines were created for management roles, it is important to note that in a team environment that these suggestions apply to ALL members of the team:

Many of us in businesses are ill-prepared to handle the traumatic events- death of immediate family members, natural disasters, accidents, etc., and yet these events can and do occur in our workplaces. They are events, for which preparation helps.

Let all employees know that you are concerned and doing all you can to help them. You represent the organization to your employees, and your caring presence can mean a great deal in helping them feel supported. You don’t have to say anything profound; just be there, do your best to manage, and let your employees know you are concerned about them. Be visible to your team, and take time to ask them how they are doing.

Let people know, in whatever way is natural for you, that you are feeling fear, grief, shock, anger, or whatever your natural reaction to the situation may be. This shows your employees you care about them. Since you also can function rationally in spite of your strong feelings, they know that they can do likewise.

Share information with your employees as soon as you have it available. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Particularly in the first few hours after a tragedy, information will be scarce and much in demand. If you can be an advocate in obtaining it, you will show your employees you care and help lessen anxiety.

Encourage employees to talk about their painful experiences. This is hard to do, but eases healing as people express their painful thoughts and feelings in a safe environment, and come to realize that their reactions are normal and shared by others. Your team may prefer to discuss the situation among them. Don’t be afraid to participate, and to set a positive example by discussing your own feelings openly. Your example says more than your words.

Build on the strengths of the group. Encourage employees to take care of one another through such simple measures as listening to those in distress, offering practical help, visiting the hospitalized, or going with an employee on the first visit to a feared site. The more you have done to build a cohesive work group, and to foster self-confidence in your employees, the better your staff can help one another in a crisis.

Build on your work group’s prior planning. If you have talked together about how you, as a group, would handle a hypothetical crisis, it will help prepare all employees, mentally and practically, to deal with a real one. Knowing employees’ strengths and experience, having an established plan for communication in emergencies, and procedures can help you “hit the ground running” when a crisis actually strikes.

Be aware of the healing value of work. Getting back to the daily routine can be a comforting experience, and most people can work productively while still dealing with grief and trauma. However, the process of getting a staff back to work is one which must be approached with great care and sensitivity. In particular, if anyone has died or been seriously injured, the process must be handled in a way that shows appropriate respect for them.

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While we, the team at SafeSourcing, are no stranger to moments of emergency or crisis, we pull together as one team and one family ensuring that our customers and suppliers are taken care throughout our crisis. We take pride in offering the best customer service in the industry and will do whatever it takes to ensure that it remains our top priority and invisible to the outside world.

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.

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Resource: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/worklife/reference-materials/traumaticevents.pdf

 

Believe it or not it’s time to think about Landscaping 

February 10th, 2021

Why you should negotiate your landscaping services before winter is over  

 

Todays post is by Dave Wenig, Senior Vice President Sales and Services at SafeSourcing Inc.

As I write this blog, there is snow across much of North America and winter is in full swing. Even though it is hard to imagine now, it will be spring soon and your landscaping needs will have to be met.

While it might seem like a challenge, particularly if you have many locations across a broad geographic footprint, this process is actually pretty straightforward and SafeSourcing has helped our customers through it many, many times.

As is usually the case, cost savings is the number one reason why our customers decide to work with us to negotiate the cost of their landscaping services. The savings in this category can be very significant. In addition to the rates for services, we have also seen customers being charged unnecessary management fees of up to 20% as well. Recent savings in this category have ranged between 16% and 42%, which represents a very significant reduction.

There are other benefits as well. For many customers who work with us on landscaping services, we find one or both of the following circumstances. First, we find that the customer doesn’t have a well-defined set of requirements that their landscaping provider(s) will follow. These should indicate frequency, type, and quality of the services to be performed. Second, we also find that our customers may not have or may not enforce any requirements that should be in place to protect them such as a requirement that all landscaping service providers be properly insured. The RFx process ensures that vendors must comply with certain SLAs and meet the agreed upon criteria for doing business with our customers.

Don’t wait until the snow starts to begin preparing for spring. You may be very pleasantly surprised at how much overpayment you’ll avoid by hosting an online RFx event for your landscaping services. If you do this between now and the first-time lawn mowing is required, you can make any necessary changes without having to worry about any interruption in service.

For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

What is CALS?

February 9th, 2021

Continuous Acquisition and Life-cycle Support.....

 

Today’s post is from our archives at SafeSourcing.

CALS (Continuous Acquisition and Life-cycle Support) is based on protocols from the United States Department of Defense for electronically acquiring documentation and connecting associated information.

These protocols have developed a number of standard specifications for the exchange of electronic data with commercial suppliers. These standards are frequently referred to simply as “CALS”.

Effectively adopting CALS procedures requires close coordination among buyers and suppliers, using standard methods (electronic data interchange or EDI), while streamlining business processes (business process engineering), and effective use of business and technical information.

CALS was formerly known as Computer-aided Acquisition and Logistic Support.

Let SafeSourcing better manage your sourcing projects. We enjoy bringing this blog to you every week and hope you find value in it. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs 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.

 

The Value of Data

February 5th, 2021

Too often in procurement, a purchase decision must be made when there is no historical data to support the decision.

 

I was talking to a customer about data to support sourcing  and found this old post of mine. Its still on target. Enjoy.

Todays post is from our SafeSourcing Archive

Data has a way of sneaking into every aspect of our life. In an article in the Wall Street Journal from 1/14/2012 titled “How Google & Co. Will Rule Your Rep” by Holly Finn, the uses of personal data as it relates to one’s reputation are described. Soon, it seems, data will be carefully analyzed at even the most personal or intangible aspects of life.

With that in mind, it is my belief that as you approach your procurement process, this rings true as ever. Too often in procurement, a purchase decision must be made when there is either no historical data to support the decision or the historical data available is insubstantial.

In these cases, it may seem as though there are no valid options that would help make a purchase decision beyond the data at hand.

In most cases, however, there are more options available. In an example where you do not have adequate historical data to make a sound purchasing decision based on pricing, you may find that it is possible to move forward in your decision with the confidence that you have received the best pricing possible. Ask your strategic sourcing partner to work with you to review your project. In most cases, an RFP can be created and managed in such a way that will provide you with the data that you might not have otherwise. Once completed, a live RFQ can be managed as needed to provide the compressed prices that you seek.

With your new data in hand, you can make your decision with confidence and with the metrics to back it up.

Just think, it used to be enough to want to share an opinion. But now, as we write this, we are hoping that it will be worthy of online comment and reaction so to boost my (quantifiable) reputation.

Please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Representative to learn how we can help with your sourcing data needs. You might be very surprised at what we know about you based on what we have learned from others.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Retailers it’s really pretty simple; just look at your Gross Profit.

February 3rd, 2021

If you want to know if your company is doing a good job with its procurement practices, begin by looking at your gross profit, then......

 

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

How many times do we hear all of the reasons for a retail company’s performance being off? It’s the cost of doing business over seas, the economy, the cost of fuel, heath care costs etc. How often do we hear, that we are doing better than the same period a year ago or we are exceeding plan. All of that is nice stuff, but the bottom line is your bottom line. If you top line sales are up and your net profit is up it does not necessarily mean that you have all of your procurement issues under control.

Let’s start with some numbers you might want to look at. Don’t just assume that profit is a good thing because profit could be caused by an imbalance in your category margins.

Here are a few good questions to ask yourself.
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1. How do your cost of goods compare to the rest of the industry for a chain of your size?
2. How do your operating expenses compare to other chains of your size?
3. How do your gross margins compare to other chains your size?

All of the above can be good indicators of overall company health and certainly procurement health. If your cost of goods is higher than industry averages for a chain of your size, why is that? Is there a specific category that is causing the issue? Do you know how to isolate the problem and then eliminate it?

If you don’t have or know this information, you should ask your e-procurement provider if they have it, because they should if they want to model an improvement plan for you.

As an example, here is an example of a previous years U.S. based convenience store chains targets for non fuel.

1. Cost of Goods Sold should run somewhere around 71% or 72%
2. Gross Profit should run around 28% to 30%
3. Operating Expenses should run around 26% to 29%
4. Net Operating Income around 2%

While these numbers are certainly off based on Pandemic issues, product  or services mix, you can build a case model on them to compare before and after for you company. That is if you have a tool like SafeBIM™ from SafeSourcing. BIM stands for Business Impact Model.

If you are way out of balance with these numbers and want to understand how to rebalance them, contact a  SafeSourcing Customer Services Associate.

 

If you can improve profitability 73%, Why don’t more companies use Reverse Auctions and other e-Procurement Tools?

February 1st, 2021

Let’s review exactly what a Reverse Auction or RFQ is, how simple they are to use and the potential financial benefits?

 

Todays post is from Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Todays reverse auctions are web/cloud based  Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings that are part of very sophisticated procure to pay applications that let retailers and other companies find the best suppliers for any resale or not for resale product or service they wish to source.  Using a web based reverse auction tool, retailers, other companies or groups of companies (Group Purchasing Organizations) can invite far more suppliers to take place in reverse auctions than they could possibly find or manage using traditional sourcing methodologies. During the reverse auction event they can review on one page all responses from suppliers, data about suppliers, notes from suppliers, product specifications and other necessary information at an instant. Upon auction conclusion which is typically less than 30 minutes retailers and other companies can review savings scenarios and award business from their desktop.

Now let’s get to the simple financial benefits. Let’s assume a $150M Retail Company with industry average earnings of one percent or $1.5M. Additionally cost of goods for this company is 70 percent or $105M. Let’s also assume this company were to only source ten percent of their for resale or above the gross margin line spend or roughly $11M. With below industry average savings of ten percent, total savings generated would be $1.1M which is a direct impact to net profitability. If all other segments of the P&L perform to plan and all savings are recovered during the same business calendar year net profitability would increase to $2.6M or a 73% improvement.

NO BS Here! If you don’t believe me, I will be glad to personally sit down with your CFO and Finance team and prove it to you!

Wen company’s  can begin almost immediately (SaaS/Cloud offering) with no risk (Cost Neutral Pilots)  and no IT involvement,why don’t more companies use reverse auctions and other e-procurement tools? That’s a great question!

If this author were you, I just could not ignore this type of opportunity. If you’d like to learn more, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.