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100 days isn’t really a natural time frame to measure things in, is it? Three months and a few days. 14,3 weeks. Nevertheless, it is commonly used to measure initial progress - famously so in terms of a US President’s ability to live up to ambitious campaign promises. And if it’s good enough for the President, it’s good enough for me! So here are a few takeaways from my first 100(+) days at TenderEasy.
 
Alright, I’ll admit right off the bat that (like a campaign promise) I might have slightly misrepresented my tenure at TenderEasy, as it’s closer to 150 days. Nevertheless, I feel it’s appropriate to share with you some of the insights I’ve gained so far. Like these:
 

  • Wow – there really is a need for a SaaS-freight procurement solution out there!
While many companies have the taken step into the future and started using services like the one we supply, a surprising amount of companies are still stuck in the ways of yesterday, puzzling with excel sheets and comparing incomparable bids sheets.

 

  • No tool alone can rid you of all your freight procurement duties
Buying a solution like TenderEasy will undoubtedly help in simplifying and speeding up the RFQ process. This does not, however, mean that it will replace the fundamental competence of the buyer. A thorough understanding of the supply chain as well as it’s internal and external demands are still paramount to the setup of a successful tender. You need reliable data to maximise the benefits. Unfortunately (for some), the old saying also applies in the digital world…shit in…shit out….  

 

  • We’re not selling a tool – we sell time to focus on what’s important!

As tempting as it can be to dig into the intricacies of the system, the functionalities and technical benefits, what we really sell is time. Time subtracted from setup, bid collection, validation, evaluation and analysis – time that can be used where a skilled buyer can add the real value, like negotiations and contracting with enough time to do it properly!
 

  • We provide benefits not just for our customer

During my first time at TenderEasy, I’ve encountered many happy customers. But in addition to that, I’ve also encountered some happy forwarders. It turns out (unsurprisingly) that it’s not just the buyer that values a structured, easy and, as a result, fair RFQ process.
 
So in conclusion – while it will always be hard to live up to every expectation of the voter customer, my initial experience at TenderEasy have left me strengthened in the belief that what we do is of great benefit to the industry. And not just the buying part, but the entire supply chain.
4 more years!

About the author

Jacob Wiklund is working for TenderEasy as a Sourcing Analyst / Consultant with previous experience as a consultant in supply chain management. He holds an MsC from Chalmers University of Technology. Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn

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The shipping industry is a volatile market. Every shipper has to live with its ups and downs – no-shows and roll-overs. Contracts are written for volumes that are hard to accurately predict.
Even so, long term sea freight contracts are a necessity in order to have any sort of stability and reliability for your oversea freights.
 
Now, let’s say your volume forecast in your contract wasn’t great, and you could not commit to your actual volumes. You need to guarantee that your shipments are actually shipped on that vessel that day. What do you do? Apart from crossing your fingers and holding your breath, that is…

 
One potential solution could be the fairly young New York Shipping Exchange (NYSHEX), at least as long as you’re not motivated by price alone. NYSHEX’s business idea is to act as a broker between shippers and carriers, for high-priority shipments. Carriers reserve volumes on vessels that shippers can book to secure that their volumes are shipped. It’s like buying premium tickets for your ocean containers instead of economy class. The “economy class” seats are easily filled and overbooked, but the premium seats can be reserved – sort of like Maersk’s previous “business class” shipping solution. The backside? Well, you’re unlikely to come away from such an arrangement without a significantly lighter wallet. 
 
In the name of simplicity, standard contracts for all carriers are used and all-in prices are offered, without the usual flurry of surcharges that is usually added in order to counter the previously mentioned uncertainties. Importantly, the contracts are fully enforceable with hefty penalties if either party fails to live up to the contracted service. The idea is that as such, performed service levels shall be able to be significantly improved.
 
This is not to say that long term contracts are without merit, they are of course necessary for any type of stability over time, as well as to ensure best possible negotiated prices (whereas NYSHEX will offer standard rates supplied by carriers). And by all accounts, the spot market as we know it will live on as well, due to it’s simplicity and ability to provide market rates for one-off shipments.
 
So NYSHEX cannot serve as a substitute for neither long term contracted rates or the spot market - nor does it aim to – but it can perhaps serve as a compliment for when you want to guarantee a priority shipment. At least it is an interesting proposition. And hey – if NYSHEX helps carriers reduce cost incurred by inefficiencies, perhaps that will benefit your next long term contract negotiation.

About the Author

Jacob Wiklund is working for TenderEasy as a Sourcing Analyst / Consultant with previous experience as a consultant in supply chain management. He holds an MsC from Chalmers University of Technology. Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn

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What sets a procurement tool specifically geared towards freight procurement apart from a regular procurement tool? To answer that, I’ve compiled a few of the benefits that might come with using a transport procurement tool: 

1. Specific functionality/templates
Procuring transports can be very different from procuring other goods or services. Certain logics needs to be applied that is not usually applied for other sorts of procurement, such as break point calculations, freight weight conversions and similar logics. 

2. Additional benefits 
Procurement of freight solutions is not all about long term contracts. If you need to pursue additional ad-hoc requests, a procurement solution like TenderEasy has the extra modules to allow for doing this as well. Adding on API and search engine to query your tendered rates, well then, we are talking a complete set of potentials for your organisation. This is something that is not available via a generic procurement tool. 

3. Integration
A procurement tool, while surely useful and necessary, can only take you as far as to the negotiation and signing of contracts. So, when it’s time to implement the procured solution, the ability to integrate with transport specific systems, such as TMS-systems, it is very important to smoothly transition into actually using the new contracts. 

4. Competence
Whenever you run into a situation, you might want to contact support, and there should be skilled freight procurement professionals on the other side. With a tool built by professionals, for professionals, this can be expected and delivered for sure. How about a generic tool, can it solve this need? Will you get the same attention and freight procurement knowledge available when you need it? 


Above points should be kept in mind when researching what solution is right for you and your company. Weather you go for a general procurement tool, or a solution tailor made for transport procurement.

About the author

Johan Vagerstam
Johan is CEO and Co-founder of TenderEasy. He works along with colleagues, partners and clients to transform the way organisations manage their freight procurement processes. You can follow him on twitter and on Linkedin.

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Are you still managing your freight tenders with excel? Do you like what you see when browsing our website? Well, in that case I have two things to say to you:

1.     Congratulations! You are well on your way to saving a lot of time, energy and money on your upcoming tender processes!
2.     While a tool will surely lighten your workload, keep in mind that there are still some duties that have to be managed by you as a buyer.

 
The business of transport sourcing has long been neglected in terms of technological progress and tools to aid the process. The vast majority of companies are still using home made excel solutions to prepare, collect and analyze offers. And while there are undoubtedly massive benefits to reap from implementing a more up-to-date solution, please be advised that going digital will not relieve you of all your duties. The following are a few integral part to any tendering process that still demand close attention, no matter how good of a tendering solution is implemented.
 
1.     Preparation (company unique setup)
        No tool can replace a thorough knowledge of the business being tendered and the unique needs that lies therein. A tool can only optimize the input, but if the input is not on par with reality, neither will the output be. So it’s of utmost importance to take the time to do your due diligence on your own company before implementing a tool to optimize that reality.
 
2.     Supplier engagement/communication/trust building
        As we’ve explained in a previous blog post, there are significant benefits to engaging the supplier early in the process. Make sure that all suppliers are on board with the essential characteristics of your tender, we recommend setting up a webinar to explain why your tender deserves their attention and keep that line of communication open throughout the tendering process. This will undoubtedly create more knowledgeable and engaged suppliers - and as a result, higher quality bids in the end.
 
3.     Negotiations
        Although a solution such as TenderEasy’s will help you perform analysis of multiple scanarios and present a number of prefferred suppliers on that basis, such results should not necessarily be taken as gospel. Rather than presenting you with the answer for who to sign with, the time saved and the final output from the tool should be put to use where you as a buyer can really make a difference – in final negotiations.
 
As long as each of the above is allowed it’s proper attention, a tendering solution like TenderEasy will no doubt allow for a lot of time and energy to be saved, while simultaneously ensuring a high quality outcome.

About the Author

Jacob Wiklund is working for TenderEasy as a Sourcing Analyst / Consultant with previous experience as a consultant in supply chain management. He holds an MsC from Chalmers University of Technology. Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn

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Regardless of your view on playing during work hours, there is little doubt it is becoming more and more common. But – does it help the company in any tangible way? Will the extra playtime prove beneficial through a boost in creativity and energy for employees? As the (soon to be) undisputed office champion of ping-pong, I thought I’d try to answer that question in a couple of paragraphs.
 
As I was looking into this, I was rather surprised at the diversity of the research results that I came across. Many studies pointed to regular playing times being beneficiary to productivity, whereas some did not. One study on British supermarkets even suggests there might be a negative correlation between job satisfaction and corporate productivity; the more miserable the employees were, the better the profits(!).
 
Now that was just one example, of course, and the majority of data seem to show that taking ”active pauses” at work can indeed provide a break from monotony that is often needed in order to attack a problem from a different perspective and find new solutions. And while implementation of this theory has been most prominent in the IT industry – who hasn’t heard of the skateboarding executives at Google – the trend is starting to gain a foothold in other sectors as well. It’s easy to find employee temtimonials showing that a workplace filled with humor and fun provide more incentive to perform at a higher level.
 
But as much as it might boost creativity, there seem to be a less direct reason for allowing playtime at work that is at least as important to company success. In a time where job security, loyalty, and average tenure are lower than in the past, a relaxed and fun atmosphere at work is increasingly likely to be the glue that retains and motivates high quality employees.
 
I’d like to expand further on the subject, but I’m afraid av have a ping-pong game to attend to…

About the Author

Jacob Wiklund is working for TenderEasy as a Sourcing Analyst / Consultant with previous experience as a consultant in supply chain management. He holds an MsC from Chalmers University of Technology. Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn.

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As e-commerce has gained ground on traditional stores when it comes to pretty much all types of consumer goods, the demand from customers on quick and timely service has risen as well.

Just a few years ago, ordering a pair of shoes online would often mean a single choise of delivery method with an estimated lead time of 3-5 days. But as the markets are quickly maturing, so have the demands from customers in terms of delivery speed and quality. This has not only put pressure on forwarders to produce fast and flexible solutions, but also on freight purchasers, who have needed to adjust their priorities in terms of how to buy transports. What is more important – price or lead time? Should an environmentally friendly alternative be offered? How to handle returns when return rates rise above 50%?
 
The progress has been rapid and if you want to attract an increasingly picky customer base, you better offer a specific lead time, preferably with delivery within a day, to the customers specified drop off location. Oh, and with free returns, of course. And that’s just to stay in the game – if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to compete with giants the likes of Amazon, who have been offering delivery within the hour over the last couple of years, provided you live in a decent sized city.
 
So, when is this race to cut lead times and expand services going to end? Considering that e-commerce as a concept can still be said to be in it’s infancy (about 90% of all sales are still coming out of brick and mortar stores), the perfection of e-commerce deliveries are unlikely to slow down any time soon. At the current rate, a tendered service that is competitive and up to date when signing the contract might very well be outdated before the contracted term is up.
 
And with the emergence of 3D-printers for the home, who’s to say there will even be a need for delivery at all..?

About the Author

Jacob Wiklund is working for TenderEasy as a Sourcing Analyst / Consultant with previous experience as a consultant in supply chain management. He holds an MsC from Chalmers University of Technology. Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn.

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There are a multitude of factors to consider when starting up a freight tender. Collecting data, setting up trade lanes, defining quality requirements, etc. One factor that is often overlooked is the importance of creating supplier engagement.
 
Put yourself in the shoes of a logistics service provider. You have several RFQs to attend to and yet another one lands on your desk. How likely are you to dive into the new one right away? Not very likely, right?
 
So how do you make sure that the supplier will indeed pay attention to your RFQ from day one and invest the time and effort necessary to produce a quality bid? One approach that is gaining in popularity is to hold a supplier webinar early on in the process.
 
Shortly after sending out your RFQ, invite all potential suppliers to a webinar style information meeting where details of your business, key points and demands as well as important info on the tender process itself can be presented. This will produce several benefits, of which the following exmples are a few:
 

  • Ensuring that you grab the attention of the suppliers right away, ”forcing” them to internalize the information of the RFQ.  Also, from a supplier point of view, having the possibility to gain info and ask questions right away will increase interest and engagement early in the process and facilitate an early start to the bidding process.
     
  • Not only will a webinar provide suppliers with knowledge on the RFQ, but a webinar is also a perfect opportunity to create excitement and incentive for the suppliers to really want to win your business. What makes your business unique? Why should this be a prioritized tender? A well presented webinar serves just as much as a cheerleading excercise as it does as an informative lecture on practical details.
     
  • A more practical effect of inviting to a webinar is that it works well as an indication of who has actually received/noticed the RFQ and who hasn’t, allowing for early reminders/checks if the RFQ has even reached it’s intended receiver. If you have invited a lot of suppliers and you don’t work with a tendering tool that provides a possibility for this kind of follow-up, this can be a very handy way to learn who needs reminding/redirection of invitation.

About the Author

Jacob Wiklund is working for TenderEasy as a Sourcing Analyst / Consultant with previous experience as a consultant in supply chain management. He holds an MsC from Chalmers University of Technology. Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn

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As vacation times are descending upon us, it is time to kick back and relax  with a good book, and interesting magazine… or why not some of the latest news and analyses from the world of logistics? The following are some of our favourite logistics blogs, presented in no particular order for your summer reading pleasure:
 
Logistics Viewpoint (logisticsviewpoints.com)
This blog, curated by Steve Banker, Clint Reiser, Chris Cunnane and Neelam Singh fucuses on current trends and provides advice based on the groups substantial experience in logistics research.
 
Supply Chain Shaman (supplychainshaman.com)
The shaman in question is Lora Cecere, founder of Supply Chain Insights. The blog focuses on topics such as digital consumer, demand planning, revenue management, etc.
 
Talking Logistics (talkinglogistics.com)
Logistics industry expert Adrian Gonzales interviews leaders and prominent thinkers within the logistics and supply chain industry in his video talk show/blog.
 
UPS Longitudes (longitudes.ups.com)
UPS produces this blog focusing on global trends within a wide spectrum of logistics fields, from global trade to autonomous trucks.
 
Supply Chain Matters (theferrarigroup.com/supply-chain-matters/)
Bob Ferrari, founder of the Ferrari Group shares his experience within everything from supply chain planning and operations customer service and leadership.

About the author

Jacob Wiklund is working for TenderEasy as a Sourcing Analyst / Consultant with previous experience as a consultant in supply chain management. He holds an MsC from Chalmers University of Technology. Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn
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In the previous instalment on my experiences as a consultant, I wrote about how a tool like TenderEasy could have helped me save great amounts of time during the freight tendering process, especially during the analysis phase, compared to working manually. This time, I will touch upon the precision and quality of calculations when using a tool compared to my experiences working manually.

Have you ever taken a class in physics? Well if you have, you are probably aware that whatever experiment you try in a test setting will not apply to the real world, since most often air resistance and friction are assumed to be zero. So your result, however correct it may seem, will not be viable in the real world. Well, oftentimes a freight tendering process can work the same way. Let me explain:
 
Analysing a complex tender structure with multiple suppliers’ bids is always difficult – thousands of lanes and price points to compare with a multitude of offers each and for different assumed scenarios. Sound overwhelming? It did to me, which is why I (and I know I’m not alone in this) often went for the approach of simplifying transport patterns and assuming facts which I could then build my analysis on. Problem is, the result from such an analysis will most often be no more accurate than that in the science class room.
 
Having seen the process from both ends, I can conclude that assumptions and simplifications, although useful and necessary in many circumstances, are often quite far removed from reality. Had I been using a tool like TenderEasy, on the other hand, I would have been able to produce analyses for a number of different scenarios and apply it to the actual statistical data available, giving me results that are actually compatible with reality! It might seem obvious, but as it turns out, there can be quite a bit of money on the table in knowing exactly what you are comparing to when analysing your bids.

About the author

Jacob Wiklund is working for TenderEasy as a Sourcing Analyst / Consultant with previous experience as a consultant in supply chain management. He holds an MsC from Chalmers University of Technology. Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn

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Over the past few years, before I started working at TenderEasy, I’ve been involved in a number of transport procurement processes as a consultant. With few exceptions, most of the work, in terms of collection, calculation and evaluation of offers has been done with the help of Microsoft Excel and little more.
Having now worked at TenderEasy for just a little over a month, I’ve started to form a picture of the benefits offered by a tendering tool such as TE. In this post, I will use my experiences to highlight the impact on time spent on analysis when using a tendering tool like TenderEasy.

 
One thing that has been a recurring theme throughtout my transport sourcing work has been the extensive amount of time spent comparing and evaluating offers. Most often, this time has been driven by the fact that no offer sheets have looked the same in terms of structure, calculation rules, etc.

For example:

  • Carrier A hands in an excel sheet with span prices and minimum price
  • Carrier B hands in a pdf-file with span prices without minimum price
  • Carrier C hands in a word file offering on half the lanes presented in the RFQ

 
Can these be compared? Sure, but it is quite time consuming as well as risky, as I have now taken on a responsibility of enterpreting and adjusting the bids in order to make them comparable. Not only that, but it is not unusual for a bid to include several sets of surcharges with ambiguous applicability. More than once have I spent time in a carrier meeting discussing and sorting out how to interpret costs and surcharges – and even then misunderstandings have surfaced when I thought everything was under control.
 
Could this have been mitigated, had I used a tendering tool like TE? Of course, no system is entirely misunderstanding-proof. But having a structured tendering platform that requires the carrier to follow pre-set rules and templates in order to submit their tender would not only have saved me a whole lot of time, but just as importantly given me some peace of mind regarding the quality of my calculations and analysis.

Have you had any similar experiences? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

About the author

Jacob Wiklund is working for TenderEasy as a Sourcing Analyst / Consultant with previous experience as a consultant in supply chain management. He holds an MsC from Chalmers University of Technology. Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn

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