Archive for April, 2011

Getting to Know the Organizations Helping to Protect Us – Part 3 of 4

Friday, April 29th, 2011

In a series where we are looking at some of the organizations out there that are working hard to protect our planet, we focus today on the Marine Stewardship Council.

Founded in 1997 by the World Wide Fund for Nature and Unilever, this organization works with seafood manufacturers to produce products based on principles of sustainability with their vision of “the world’s oceans teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations.” (

What makes this organization so special is that they have a mindset that goes beyond just certifying products and companies; they truly want to influence the way people see, purchase, and consume products so that entities with good fishing practices are rewarded and moved to the forefront of the industry.

Their programs to educate the public, businesses, fisheries and even developing countries to ensure we as a planet continue to move towards sustainable seafood practices are known and recognized throughout the world.

For more information on the more than 9,000 products and companies who have been certified, the 104 certified fisheries or the retailers and restaurants who support the MSC programs, visit their website at

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Knowing the Organizations Helping to Protect Us – Part 2 of 4

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

In Monday’s blog we talked about how many organizations are out there working very hard to make sure that the world and its inhabitants are safer.
In the rest of this week’s posts we would like to take some time and highlight a few of the groups that work so hard to protect us, groups you may or may not been familiar with but that deserve the attention and praise of the business world.

The Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO) “provides an independent service to supervise gluten-free food production according to a consistent, defined, science-based standard that is confirmed by field inspections, in order to achieve heightened consumer confidence and safety. “ (

Gluten-free diets are very common for treating diseases of the intestine, connective tissues, and other sensitivities and allergies of the protein, gluten.  The GFCO works with auditors to certify that are manufactured to the guidelines to ensure a product is gluten-free and safe for those with the ailments above.  Working with manufactures such as Snyder’s and retailers such as Trader Joes, the GFCO works hard to improve the products consumed by those on gluten-free diets.

For more information on the certified Gluten-Free go to our website or for a list of Certified Gluten-Free products go to the GFCO’s site at

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Where should your RFI data come from?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

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

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

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

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

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

Getting to Know the Organizations Helping to Protect Us

Monday, April 25th, 2011

If you turn on the news at any time of day you are constantly being faced with hundreds of stories about people trying to hurt other people.  It can be so overwhelming at times that it seems there is no one actually trying to “help” anyone else.

The fact is there are thousands of organizations and millions of people all over the world whose primary goal and focus is to help protect the planet and more importantly, the people on it.  These same organizations also provide certifications for millions of products that companies buy every day that demonstrate an awareness for protecting us from the “shortcuts” and harm that so many times arise in the course of making those products.
Organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council, who certify wood products promoting better and more responsible uses of our forests and ensure the sustainability of those same forests that are used in making their products.

 There are literally tens of thousands of organizations that provide these types certifications as well as the lists of the certified companies and products who have demonstrated that capability to do things the right way.  These items can be very useful resources to helping your company select a better mix of product.

For more information about these types of organizations please visit the SafeSourcing Wiki or contact a Customer Service representative to find out how you can begin sourcing from suppliers out of our database of certified vendors today.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

We never worried about washing our Easter eggs or where they were hidden; we just ate them during the hunt.

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

I watched a commercial on T.V. the other night where a dad organized the local Easter egg hunt. He went to the store and purchased black and green paint and then individually painted the eggs in a camouflage pattern before hiding them. It was hilarious watching the kids wander around looking for the eggs. I think one egg was actually found by accident. The guy’s wife was not very happy with him. Depending on how you look at it, maybe the father did the kids a favor.

After all, he did use real eggs because he knew that he could not confirm that the plastic ones he first looked at did not contain BPA or Bisphenol A.  So, he moved on tot the local grocery store and bought fresh eggs. He had heard of BPA, but had never been exposed to Salmonella and was not aware of the number of recalls in the recent past of fresh eggs.

I guess the point is I could go on and write about paint products, pesticides on the lawn, multiple kids picking up the same egg or a variety of other issues confronting parents today that we just did not think about 40 or 50 years ago. It’s a shame.

The above does however point out the diligence required by sourcing professionals when buying for resale products and how these products cross paths and interact as well as impact the consumer. We are making progress but not enough for me to eat one of those eggs anymore. At least until I’ve washed it.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Are you ready for more bad news or severe approaching storms?

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

GOTCHA! The only reason you are reading this paragraph at all is that bad news and weather sell. Bad news about the weather sells better. We see it at the grocery, convenience or drug store checkouts every time we make a purchase. How often do the news channels lead in with Good Samaritan stories? Everyone wants to follow the bad news. Men in particular like to follow news of bad weather. My wife says I can tell you the temperature and elevation at any time of the day as well of the impact of one on the other.

From a procurement perspective we do have a storm brewing and it’s based on a lack of easily accessible information, we can be faced with any of the following on any given day.

1. No Staff
2. The loss of a source of supply
3. Damaged goods
4. Product recalls
5. Product safety issues
6. Food borne illness issues
7. Environmental impact issues
8. Poor product specifications
9. Lack of adequate information at your fingertips
10. No way to openly collaborate with other procurement professionals
11. Transferred or promoted resources that leave a departmental brain drain

The question is how do we deal with this? There are a variety of portals, search engines and website home pages that may or may not contain what you are looking for. The question is there one that contains it all and does not cost a nickel to access. If there were, it would need to include the following.

1. A central repository and launch point for industry alerts
2. A central source for procurement information
3. A central collaboration point for all procurement professionals to hold open forum conversations.
4. A central location where one can find specifications on hundreds of products.
5. A central database of new global and local sources of supply
6. A central location that tracks suppliers environmental practices
7. A central location that tracks suppliers product safety practices
8. A daily educational commentary that can be commented on or forwarded to others in the procurement space for review.
9. A central location for your team to hold private forum conversations and share private documents.
10. A central location where companies can trace beyond one forward and one back if necessary after they have bought products or services.

The best offense is a good defense. When a storm approaches having the right tools to insulate you from the storm surge are critical. There is only one tool in the procurement space that can answer yes to providing all of these tools. To investigate further, please follow this link and spend a little time to see if you can find them all.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What is a Reserve Price Reverse Auction?

Monday, April 18th, 2011

In a reserve price reverse auction, the buyer establishes a “reserve price”, the maximum amount the buyer will pay for the goods or services being auctioned. This 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. I personally have seen retailers try to just use their existing price from their last contract. This type of practice may set unreasonable expectations, particularly if the market has changed dramatically in an upward direction since the last award of business. In today’s market, fuel would be a great example of something that you would not set a reserve price based on a previous contract if you wanted incumbent or new suppliers to take you seriously.

Traditionally, 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. 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.

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. 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 look forward to and appreciate  your comments

REPOST! Calling all Green Retailers. You’ve got to love this!

Friday, April 15th, 2011

I love it when I open the paper in the morning and read something like “What’s Big Green and Found All Over” that’s exactly the title of the lead article in the Business Section of  The Arizona Republic yesterday Tuesday May 27th 2008 by Cathryn Creno. An accompanying article titled “Chains sold on Green” also written by Cathryn Creno details how retailers embrace energy efficiency.  The environment wins twice in one day. We must be making progress. Areas of focus within the article are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED, the EPA’s Retail energy Star program, and the EPA’s retail Green Power Partnership list.

A couple of other certifications that retailers may want to pay attention too are Green Seal .Green Seal works with manufacturers, industry sectors, purchasing groups, and governments at all levels to “green” the production and purchasing chain. Green Seal utilizes a life-cycle approach, which means they evaluate a product or service beginning with material extraction, continuing with manufacturing and use, and ending with recycling and disposal. EcoLogo . is also worthy of consideration and is North America’s most widely recognized and respected certification of environmental leadership. By setting standards and certifying products in more than 120 categories, EcoLogo helps you identify, trust, buy, and sell environmentally preferable (“green”) goods and services. Both of these certifications are included in the SafeSourceIt™ North American supplier database as one of our supplier certification standards 

Personally and for Safesourcing I would like to offer congratulations to the following retailers. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Whole foods Market Inc., J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Kohl’s Corp., and Safeway Inc. You all serve as a wonderful example of leading the charge in what we all can do towards leaving a better world for our children and theirs.

What has your company accomplished in the last three years? Are you even as this stage yet.

We look forward to your comments.

Why procurement and supply chain professionals need e-procurement tools more than ever.

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Procurement and other supply chain professionals have developed and nurtured existing relationships within their incumbent suppliers for years and in some cases decades. Too often, this has led to incumbent suppliers becoming to comfortable. The feeling of entitlement begins to creep in and some suppliers feel as though their business will be renewed annually. Too often this is true.

This author has often said that the job of buyers, category managers, procurement executives and other supply chain knowledge workers is the most difficult job in all of retail and retail distribution. These professionals are literally swamped. Quality, safety, environmental issues coupled with the enormous amount of new product offerings is overwhelming. Just conducting the basic research required to identify potential new sources of supply, finding the correct contact information as well as determining if the company has the capability to meet your needs. All of this is before you even sample, price or test new offerings. No wonder it is so easy to just stay the current course. This however would be a mistake.

A general rule of thumb that this author has always ascribed to is if you are doing business with a current supplier for more than three years and are only negotiating with that supplier, your prices are probably too high. The question is how can you find out?

That is where e-procurement tools come in to play. I won’t advertise here, but if you were to Google e-procurement or reverse auctions etc. any number of companies will come up. Or if you were smart, you just click this link and have measurable savings in less than 30 days and often faster. Visit SafeSourcing.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

April is the perfect month to examine your environmental initiatives.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

According to Wikipedia Earth Day is a day that is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970.

Why not use this day as a time to reexamine your environmental policies and practices as well as those of your supply chain partners. A simple way to do so is to simply come up with a list of questions and have an open discussion with your executive committee or management team where you try and answer these questions about your company.

Here’s a list to get you started. How many members of your management team can answer all of these questions?

1. Do we track Triple Bottom Line?
2. Are all of our construction projects LEED certified?
3. What programs do we have that are reducing the company’s carbon footprint?
4. Do we have quantifiable evidence as to the reduction of our carbon footprint?
5. What environmental permits and certifications do we have in place?
6. Are we measuring compliance and do we have readily available audit results? 
7. What are our pollution prevention controls?
8. What is our hazardous materials handling process?
9. What is our waste management and recycling plan?
10. What do you do to insure clean air emissions?

Let’s pass a better earth on to our children and their hildren.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments