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Black Friday/Cyber Monday: the real effect on supply chains

They say this is the most wonderful time of the year – but the growing transatlantic popularity of this sales phenomenon won’t just put strain on cash registers… The frenzied (sometimes violent) stampede of bargain hunters will undoubtedly place strain on supply chains and logistics networks too.

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According to Visa, £360,000 is expected to be spent every minute on Black Friday (28th November) – with a further £281 million forecast to be spent on the busiest day for online shopping; Cyber Monday.

Black Friday has long been established as a traditional sales bonanza in the US, and is predicted to see $2.48 billion spent online this year, up by 28 per cent. Meanwhile the more recent eCommerce follow up Cyber Monday is expected to increase by 15 per cent to $2.6 billion, and Thanksgiving Day itself has been predicted to see online sales of $1.35 billion, up 27 per cent.

Global IT services company IT Infotech have shared with us its thoughts on why retailers, logistics and delivery firms should be prepared for extra pressure through Black Friday to Cyber Monday.

The American tradition has been an increasingly popular import in the UK, with leading retailers including Amazon, Argos and John Lewis offering sales both online and in-store.

“UK retailers are already bracing their logistics operations to handle the Christmas rush, which can see as much as 70 per cent of yearly sales volumes achieved in the last two weeks of December”, says Venkata V, who works with some of the top retailers around the globe.

“However, with the US expecting one of the biggest sales periods in history this Thanksgiving, the UK should be prepared to see a spike in demand and more strain on their logistics. Even retailers not offering specific Black Friday discounts themselves can expect more demand as shoppers are inspired to hunt for Christmas bargains.”

The rapid escalation in demand created by sales events like Black Friday can be extremely lucrative, but also cause havoc on unprepared supply chains, as demonstrated by China’s recent “Single’s Day” event. The country’s biggest sales event saw the e-commerce leader Alibaba rake in sales of over £9 billion, but the day has previously slowed down delivery times from two days to over a week.

Saravana Kumar who heads Supply Chain consulting in ITC Infotech says: “Marketing, production and logistics teams should work closely together to make sure their operation can handle increased demand on the 28th of November, especially as they are likely to already be stretched by the Christmas period. Flexible retailers have a strong opportunity to capitalise on the sales event by reacting to demand and adjusting their pricing strategy on the fly, increasing and lowering prices as needed”.

“The increased complexity of omni-channel retail has made the supply chain more challenging, also presents an opportunity for well-prepared operations. Capacity should be available to quickly move stock for the most popular products around to meet increased demand online or in particular stores.”

Further comment is offered from Paul Doble, chief sales and marketing officer at DX, a leading independent mail, parcels and logistics end-to-end network operator:

“Throughout the busy Christmas trading season retailers must try to forecast as accurately as possible the volumes that will need to be sent, and then communicate these expectations to their logistics partners, who will take up a huge percentage of this volume. The alternative is the situation many retailers have faced in previous years, where through a combination of inaccurate planning, poor communication and unanticipated weather conditions, demand outstrips capacity and leaves retailers unable to meet their promises to online shoppers.”

Doble continues: “It’s a problem that is often exacerbated when retailers try to maximise the online shopping window, pushing back their Christmas order deadlines and thereby drastically increasing the risk of delayed deliveries when bad weather and other factors disrupt the supply chain.”

Doble concludes with a thought-provoking double-header: “Ultimately, when Christmas presents fail to arrive, it will be the retailer that bears the brunt of disgruntled Customers and negative publicity. As such, retailers need to be asking themselves the question: just how robust are my Christmas delivery plans?”

How to get the most out of Procurious

Want to make more of an impact on the Procurious network? We’ve compiled a handy checklist to help you make the most out of our online community.

So if you’ve ever caught yourself asking “How do I…?” Read on for our Procurious tips.

Frequently asked questions - Procurious

How to add a profile picture

Procurious is a place to share your knowledge, grow your network, learn from your peers and make meaningful connections. Surprisingly enough, one of the easiest ways to do this is by adding a picture to your profile. Learn how.

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How to add additional email addresses to your Procurious account

Signing-up to Procurious to grow your professional network is all well and good, but what happens when you change your contact details, land a new role, or leave a company? Find out how.

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China’s supply chain infrastructure is full of Eastern Promise

This news blast has a distinctively oriental flavour – with a brief stopover in Ottawa (Canada), and Vietnam (once part of Imperial China) for good measure.

DHL Supply Chain to invest 173 million in logistics infrastructure in China

  • DHL Supply Chain has announced it will commit a further £90 million in China as its strategy gains traction. This is on the back of £83 million that was committed in 2013, bringing the total committed to £173 million.
  • The funds will support the expansion of its network across China and in particular, six additional state-of-the-art logistics facilities scheduled for completion by 2020. The confirmed locations are Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Shenyang, Shenzhen and Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone.
  • Oscar de Bok, Chief Executive Officer of DHL Supply Chain Asia Pacific, said: “By working closely with our customers who provide us with their demand forecast, we have a clear roadmap of the locations we need to be in; as well as the level of the services required. In China alone, DSC will expand its warehouse facilities and transport capacities by 50 percent over the next three years.”
  • DHL recently opened its state-of-the art Chengdu Logistics Centre facility in western China. Located in Xindu district, the Chengdu Logistics Centre is a key strategic investment by DHL Supply Chain to support continued economic growth in the western region.

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

World supply chains under most threat from economic risk 

  • CIPS’ Q3 2014 Risk Index has found that while supply chain risk in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa has increased, neither the Ebola outbreak nor the advance of the Islamic State has led to a significant increase in international supply chain risk. Instead, it is the economic slowdown in Germany and China that could jeopardise supply chains, it found.
  • However, the index, which analyses socio-economic, physical trade and business continuity, also found that supply chain risk has reduced for the twelfth consecutive month to 77.9 in Q3 from 78.1 in Q2. The index reached an all-time peak of 82.4 in Q3 2013. Supply chain risk has thus far been checked by the relative economic stability of the world’s three most important contributors to world supply chains, the USA, China and Germany, but that could change in Q4 as the economies of both Germany and China look increasingly fragile.
  • The combination of Russian sanctions, the rise of Euro-scepticism and a reduction in demand for German products, could see Germany lose its position as the most reliable component of world trade, the index suggested.
  • Concerns are also growing in China over an economic slowdown, with the World Bank urging the country to slash its growth target for 2015.  Local government and industrial sectors in the country are struggling to pay back loans taken out during the 2008-09 crash.

Read more at Supply Management

Ebay signs deal with Shanghai logistic provider

  • Global e-commerce giant eBay has signed a strategic agreement with Shanghai-based logistics service provider Winit Corporation to allow Chinese vendors to easily sell to overseas buyers.
  • Winit will provide eBay sellers with one-stop cross-border supply chain services to allow quicker delivery from overseas warehouse to buyers. This comes as a result of cross-border e-commerce transactions picking up in recent years.
  • John Lin, Vice President of eBay and Managing Director of eBay China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, said: “Through our collaboration with Winit we hope Chinese exporters can leverage the comprehensive warehousing service to play a more important role in global trade and to better connect Chinese exporters with global buyers.
  • The “shipping first, selling later” model enables Chinese sellers to compete with overseas counterparts by improving delivery efficiency and save logistics costs and customs clearance trouble. After Chinese sellers’ merchandise is shipped to an overseas warehouse, local buyers can select their own courier services to have their packages delivered to their doorstep.

Read more at Digital Supply Chain

China makers Bitland, BYD to join Chromebook supply chain in 2015

  • Following China-based application processor (AP) supplier Rockchip’s entry into the Chromebook industry, China-based end device makers are also expected to join the Chromebook supply chain, according to information Digitimes Research has collected from the Greater China supply chain.
  • China-based Bitland and BYD will start producing Chromebooks for brand vendors in 2015 and they will be among only a handful of makers capable of making the device. Digitimes Research believes Google’s recruitment of Rockchip into the Chromebook camp is meant to expand the the device’s supply chain.
  • Currently, most non-Samsung Chromebooks available in the market are produced by Quanta Computer, while Compal Electronics has a small amount of orders from Acer and Lenovo. Samsung Electronics manufactures its Chromebooks in house.
  • In 2015, Google is looking to relax the entry barriers to its Chromebook supply chain by expanding its partnerships with chipmakers and manufacturers. Bitland and BYD are both expected to enter the Chromebook supply chain because of Rockchip. Lenovo is also expected to launch products using their platforms.

Read more at Digitimes

News from elsewhere in the world…

Vietnam becoming vital link in supply chain

  • With a booming manufacturing market, Vietnam has rapidly become a crucial link in the Southeast Asian air cargo supply chain, with 25 percent of its exports being shipped via air cargo.
  • This week, businesses in the developing country sent a message that they are ready to compete on the world stage by launching a new cargo airline and moving forward on a new cargo handling facility. Ho Chi Minh City-based Vietjet Aviation has announced the start of its new affiliate, Vietjet Air Cargo, which it says will operate 28 routes by the end of this year and increase that total to 39 in 2015.
  • At this stage, Do Xuan Quang, managing director of Vietjet Air Cargo, said the new carrier does not own any planes but is negotiating with other interline carriers to offer charter cargo services domestically and internationally. “There is a huge potential for air cargo in Vietnam,” he said. “Currently this service is mainly offered by international airlines.”
  • Currently, the parent company, three-year-old VietJet, operates sixteen A320-200 aircraft, with firm orders with Airbus for another 63 planes in the A320 Family. The carrier said it plans to operate about thirty A320s by the end of 2015.

Read more at Air Cargo World

Defence procurement staff struggle with burnout

  • Public servants overseeing billions of dollars of military equipment projects are facing burnout and poor morale and could be prone to error due to overwork, documents obtained by the Citizen reveal. In addition, some 18 per cent of the civilian workforce in the Department of National Defence’s procurement branch is eligible to retire by the spring, without penalty. That potential exodus of skilled employees “creates a significant risk to program execution,” the documents note.
  • There are slightly more than 2,600 DND staff handling military procurements; future projects range from the acquisition of new search-and-rescue aircraft to ships and armoured vehicles. The Conservative government plans to spend tens of billions of dollars on new gear for the Canadian Forces over the coming years. But the procurement branch’s human resources plan for 2014/2015 outlines the problems the group faces.
  • “Heavy workloads, long-term high stress levels and waning morale, resulting in increased sick leave usage (and) employee burnout increase error rate and labour relations issues,” noted the plan.
  • A limit on the ability to hire new staff is another problem.

Read more at Ottawa Citizen

Mystery shopper drafted in to probe VAR’s procurement gripe

  • A controversial IT tender is being investigated by the government’s mystery shopper scheme after a small reseller criticised the procurement process for being unfriendly towards SMBs.
  • Last week, CCL’s managing director Dennis Armstrong branded the government’s IT procurement process “outrageous” after being presented with an Invitation To Tender (ITT) document which was 92 pages long despite being for a relatively small deal of £10,000. He claimed that reams of red tape are cutting SMBs out of government deals, which was echoed by other smaller firms.
  • At the time, the government admitted there is more to be done to improve procurement for SMBs but insisted it was cutting the amount of administration involved. After seeing the CRN article, the government contacted Armstrong and asked him to take part in its mystery shopper scheme in order to investigate the tender in question.
  • The scheme was set up in 2011 and aims to investigate procurement across the government and to help suppliers that have experienced poor practice. It claims that SMBs in particular have made “good use” of the scheme and that 79 per cent of the cases it investigated resulted in a positive outcome.

Read more at Channelweb

24 of the most influential people in procurement

Whether you’re new to Procurious, or you’ve been one of our #firstmovers, chances are you are looking to grow your network and connect with likeminded professionals.

Most influential people in procurement on social media

As we’re the helpful sort, we’ve compiled a list of the people we think you should be connecting with. Many are already frequent visitors to Procurious; some will be on Twitter too (in these instances we’ve also provided their handle).

How to grow your Procurious network

You can jump straight to a member’s profile by clicking on the links we’ve provided, alternatively try searching for them using the Procurious search bar. Click the green ‘Add to network’ button to request their friendship.

You can keep track of any invites you’ve received by looking in your Notifications area.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the super-useful ‘Build your network’ tool on the site too.  Here you can filter members by country, industry, and category (if you so choose).

Read more: How to build your Procurious network quickly and easily

Find out who we think you should be making introductions to, and the reasons why below:

Helen Clegg 

Helen is the Knowledge Director for the Procurement & Analytic Solutions’ Practice of A.T. Kearney, an international management consultancy. She also compiles and hosts the ‘Wave of the Future’ podcast that aims to keep you on top of the topics and trends that matter in procurement.

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/helen-clegg
@HClegg on Twitter

Kate Lee

Kate boasts nearly 20 years of domestic and international experience and is part of Fronetics – a management consulting firm which focuses on strategy and inbound marketing for the logistics and supply chain industries.

The Fronetics’ Twitter account is both super-active and full of fascinating insights related to the profession which is reason-enough to welcome Kate as one of our newest contributors.

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/kate-lee
@Fronetics on Twitter

Paul Snell

Paul is the acting managing editor of Supply Management and Supply Business magazines. If you want to keep on top of the latest CIPS developments, Paul is your man!

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/paul-snell
@procurementpaul on Twitter

Elaine Porteous 

Elaine is a published writer and editor. She has a passion for supply chains and careers, writing mainly on the ins and outs of supplier relations, strategic sourcing and managing talent. Her work has appeared in such luminaries as Supply Management and Entrepreneur among others.

You’ll be able to read some of Elaine’s work on Procurious in the near future.

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/elaine-porteous
@elaineporteous on Twitter

Jon Hansen

Jon is the editor and lead writer for the PI Social Media Network’s Procurement Insights Blog. He also hosts a popular podcast on Blog Talk Radio (out of 15k hosts, Jon is ranked in their top 300). We think it’s high time you give him a listen!

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/jon-w-hansen
@piblogger1 on Twitter 

Cindy Dunham

Cindy is a General Manager and oversees Global Process Architecture at Rio Tinto. She is also one of Procurious’ most-active (and well-connected) members with 500+ connections in her network. Follow Cindy’s example, head to the Discussions area and get involved.

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/cindy-dunham

Hal Good

Harold (or Hal to his friends) owns the Procurement Pros LinkedIn group.

He has also amassed a sizable 13.6k followers on Twitter. No mean feat.

On Procurious
@Hal_Good on Twitter

Stephen Ashcroft

Stephen is a blogger, speaker, and author. He is part of Brian Farrington Ltd, a long-established procurement and supply chain consultancy and training specialist.

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/stephen-ashcroft
@ProcureChange on Twitter

John Viner-Smith

John is a procurement-focused manager, consultant and commercial negotiator. What John doesn’t know about negotiation isn’t worth knowing… He’s also very kindly agreed to impart his knowledge to the Procurious community via a monthly blog series.

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/john-vinersmith
@vinersmith on Twitter

Sergio Giordano

Sergio was one of Procurious’ earliest flag bearers – this happy Italian has 30 years of expert industrial procurement knowledge under his belt, and nothing makes him happier than helping organisations to drive down their costs.

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/sergio-giordano/
@GiordanoProcOut on Twitter 

Gordon Donovan

As well as being a fellow of both CIPS and the Australian Institute of Management, Gordon acts as a principal consultant for The Faculty.

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/gordon-donovan
@gdonovan1971 on Twitter

Local Producer

AKA Brian Heinen – Brian is one of the driving-force’s behind LinkedIn’s biggest groups for supply chain and sourcing professionals (Procurement Professionals). With member numbers nearing 290k and soon-to-be launching into the Events space, Brian is definitely someone you should add to your network.

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/local-producer/
@ProcurementProf on Twitter

Helen Mackenzie 

Helen is in a senior managerial position in Scottish government and offered the Procurious community a valuable insight into Scottish procurement policy during the referendum earlier this year. Helen is fascinated by procurement that is seen to be pushing the envelope – drop her a message, or find her over in our Discussions area.

On Procurious
@SuperstarHelen on Twitter

Tania Seary 

Tania is the founding chairman of three companies specializing in the development of the procurement profession, namely: The Faculty, The Source and Procurious. Got a question for Tania? She’d love to hear from you!

On Procurious https://www.procurious.com/user/tania-seary
@taniaseary on Twitter

Who to connect with on Twitter

What makes some Twitter accounts stand out from the others? Due to the nature of Twitter, tweets can be made instantaneously in real-time – therefore you’ll gain more benefit from following those accounts that Tweet frequently. Nobody wants to follow an account with long periods of inactivity. We’ve included some of our favourite Twitter personalities below, along with some useful publications.

PPN

PPN has been formed out of Accounts Payable News (APN) and now includes procurement, supply chain and shared service information and news. Publish great daily updates and content across a variety of relevant topics.

Go to their website, or connect on Twitter: @p2pnetwrk

Adrian King

Tweets about management, supply chain management & IT consulting. 104k followers.

@adrian_king on Twitter

Chadwick Halse

Chadwich specializes in web design and marketing but also tweets about fashion, leadership, and how to increase your social influence. 81.4k followers.

@ChadwickHalse on Twitter

InventoryNinja

If you hadn’t guessed, the Ninja shares inventory management best practices for small businesses. 49.5k followers.

@Inventoryninja on Twitter

Supply Chain Matters

A useful resource of supply chain news and insight from Bob Ferrari. 20.4k followers.

@SC_Matters_Blog on Twitter

Logistics Management

Logistics Management provides editorial content to executives, managers and other professionals in the field of logistics and supply chain management. 21.6k followers.

@LogisticsMgmt on Twitter

Procurement Cat

AKA Catherine Lauder – the content and community manager at Procurement Leaders. 431 followers.

@ProcurementCat on Twitter

Supply Chain Digital/Sam Jermy

Provides news, info and events for supply chain executives. 14.2k followers.

@SupplyChainD on Twitter

SCMR

The official Twitter account for the Supply Chain Management Review magazine. 13.7k followers.

@SCMR on Twitter

Buyers Meeting Point 

Buyers Meeting Point is an online knowledge, networking and professional development resource for procurement and supply management professionals. 2673 followers.

@BuyersMeetPoint on Twitter

Tim Hughes

Tim numbers in the top 35 of UK bloggers, he’s also a speaker, market influencer, and feature’s in the Forbes Top 100. 81.9k followers.

@Timothy_Hughes on Twitter

Who have you been connecting with recently? Recommend other Procurious members in the comments below, or tag them in a status!

Stay up-to-date with Procurious



VOTE FOR PROCURIOUS IN THE UK BLOG AWARDS 2014 #UKBA14


Procurement at forty thousand feet – Qantas in the spotlight

Qantas has a fleet of procurement professionals keeping the iconic Australian brand in the air, and Cassie Mackie is a key part of that team.

As Portfolio Category Manager – Aircraft Cabin, she’s responsible for the end-to-end procurement and lifecycle management of Aircraft Cabin product categories including seats, inflight entertainment, connectivity, cabin electronics and cabin interior.

It’s a mammoth role, which puts her in charge of procurement on behalf of the Qantas Group Aircraft, including Qantas Domestic, Qantas International, Jetstar Branded businesses and other Qantas Group airlines.

The Sydneysider is in charge of a team of category management professionals, who all work with her to develop and deliver on all aspects of the source-to-contract and contract-to-supplier relationship management processes.

Cassie has been with Qantas since 2008 in a range of procurement roles.

“I can see a tangible connection that my role has on the business and specifically on our customers. I love that no day ever feels like ‘groundhog day’ and that I’m constantly challenged. Most of all, I love that I work with a diverse group of people that are incredibly talented at what they do and are always in pursuit of excellence.”

Like many, Cassie fell into procurement when living in London. She had the experience to consider a job in the field, with a Bachelor of Arts in Asian and International Studies under her belt. She also speaks Mandarin Chinese.

“I distinctly remember seeing a job advertised on the Australian High Commission website for a Procurement Officer with Defence Material Organisation. At the ripe old age of 20, I phoned Dad back in Australia, and asked him what procurement was. He told me it was basically like shopping, and that was it. Now, 10 years later, I’ve never looked back.”

She credits her parents for mentoring her and always being there to remind her that the world is her oyster. “They’ve always told me that as long as I work for it, I can have whatever I’ve ever wanted. I’ve had formal and informal mentors and inspirational people who have helped me to progress through my career and contemplate the future. I’ve also had some not so inspirational leaders in past experiences that have helped me see exactly what I don’t want to be, which I’ve learned from.”

She advocates the importance of good relationships with business partners and suppliers, and says some of the most challenging and difficult negotiations have ended up being the most rewarding.

Procurement crisis? Social media can save the day!

Steven Lewis of Sydney-based Taleist on social media and procurement

Social media can be an erratic and angry beast. One minute your company is being praised, and the next it’s under fire for a minor procurement program that’s somehow landed in serious hot water.

To stay out of trouble, make sure you are prepared for any social media crisis well before there’s any sign of trouble.
Start by working up to a worst case scenario by considering what could go wrong, recommends Sydney social media trainer Steven Lewis of Taleist.

Consider who is going to be called in from other duties to lend a hand if trouble hits, he says.

“The first step in handling a crisis is to be prepared for the eventuality in the first place. If you’re prepared, you’ll know who’s going to speak, what they need, and you’ll have your channels and processes in place and tested. Having thought about those things in advance frees you up to think strategically when dealing with the specifics of a crisis.”

Conduct a risk assessment on each of your processes so you know how they might be questioned or attacked, and by whom, Lewis advises.

“Create a tailored response to each process that allows you to give clear justification, preferably with supporting evidence. If, for instance, you’re accused of using a supplier who uses child labour, what policies, inspections or assurances from the supplier can you cite and what would your response be to an accusation?”

People expect their corporate citizens to have human qualities, so don’t be afraid to respond on with some emotion, he offers.

If you don’t know something you’re being asked, say so.

“It’s not good for a clothing brand, for example, to say it’s never even considered there might be child labour in its overseas supply chain, but you might not have all the facts to hand immediately. But an empathetic response and a promise to investigate with a deadline will help.”

In this example, he suggests a response such as: ‘We care deeply about child labour too and we’d be horrified to find we’d supported it even directly.”

Furthermore, it’s becoming increasingly important to respond online, he notes.

“You need to be in the channels in which you’re being discussed. If you’re being attacked on Twitter, it’s not enough to put up a media release on your website. How will the people on Twitter know it’s there?”

Remember, a social media crisis seldom involves a rational exchange of views:

“Essentially, you have to be prepared for the emotion of a crisis. If you plan to deal with the crisis only through the cold exchange of facts, you won’t put out the fire.”

Lewis also stresses the need to get your side of the story up quickly and in the relevant media.

“You’ll likely have supporters and the more you can give them to share and get your side out, the better.”

However, be prepared to wear the criticism, he warns.

“In social media as in politics, it’s often the cover-up that will get you. People don’t like having their comments deleted.”

Leading female entrepreneurs front government export drive

The UK Trade & Investment arm of the UK government has just distributed ‘From local to global’. The guidance has been collated and published in aid of the GREAT Britain campaign – a campaign that encompasses the very best of Britain’s businesses, tourism, and educational offerings.

Kelly Hoppen offers export advice

Kelly Hoppen was chosen to pen the forward to a new online document that delves into the logistics and economics of the huge export market.

Kelly boasts an enviable track record, with over 30 years of first-hand experience building businesses.

“Language, logistical and cultural barriers can all be business obstacles. However, these barriers can be overcome with the right support, guidance and people to cheer you along throughout the journey,” she says. To that end here are a number of tips to help first timers thinking of entering the export business:

Know the currency

Understand the currencies you will need to deal with. Talk with your foreign exchange provider early, as they can give you insights into the potential currency risks.

Start small

It’s tempting to pursue multiple markets. Don’t. Begin by focusing on one or two markets.

Appreciate cultural differences

Failure to take account of different cultures can lead to damaging and costly mistakes. This could range from causing offence by not observing correct protocol to inappropriate packaging and marketing.

Get paid

It’s easy to overlook the risk of non-payment. Establish the credit rating of potential clients and guard against non-payment through letters of credit or credit insurance. If you’re a UK business, UKEF (UK Export Finance) can provide advice and insurance where the private market can’t help.

Business skills and networking

Kelly isn’t the only one offering her advice. Here’s Heather Melville, Director of Strategic Partnerships at RBS, on networking internationally:

Learn your markets

Use the experiences of your new contacts to get under the skin of new markets. Learn about the opportunities and the challenges. Ask questions to get the right answers.

Immerse yourself in the culture

Tap into the expertise of your local contacts. They can advise you on what to wear, what traditions to respect and even teach you some local dialect to throw in!

Know the business card etiquette

Be aware of business card customs when networking abroad. In Japan, for example, the business card is often embossed and represents a significant part of the process. Present your own card with both hands, and take the time to receive a card warmly.

Importing and exporting advice

Tips for using digital to sell overseas

The final part of the published guidance revolves around the notion of ‘selling while you sleep’.

Remember these top tips: 

Distance isn’t a barrier

Asian consumers, for example, are more connected because of their love of smart phones, meaning there are vast opportunities to extend the reach of your brand.

Spot common trends

Engage with your customer using the common trends in their market. Learning how different markets operate is simple but extremely effective.

Cost of digital

Weigh up the options of ‘digital only’ vs ‘digital and physical presence’ within a new market.

Know whether to scale up or down

Scalability is easy and affordable. Whether you want to sell into one country or 101, e-marketplaces allow you to trade across multiple countries via one platform.

Engage with social networks

Be more social. Consumers expect to be able to engage with you or other shoppers before purchasing.

Commodity changes affect market conditions

This week we are looking at technology and how the recent commodity pricing changes has affected both the size of organisations as well as their strategies.

Microsoft Tops Exxon as 2nd Biggest Company on Oil Drop

  • Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) ceded its title as the world’s second-largest company to Microsoft Corp. after the five-month oil rout cut $47 billion from its market value.
  • Apple (AAPL) Inc., the Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker, retains its rank as the world’s biggest company. Its shares have rallied 41 per cent in 2014, the 33rd biggest gain in the S&P 500, as the company bought back shares and extended a streak of beating analyst earnings estimates to eight quarters.

Read more at Bloomberg.com

The desperate struggle at the heart of the brutal Apple supply chain

  • The most valuable corporation on Earth has the power to make or break a company through its supplier relationships.
  • A $578m deal signed between Apple and GTAT in November 2013 looked as though it would not only bring sapphire screens to iPhones, but also create thousands of jobs in the US, salving a sore point with legislators critical of Apple’s use of foreign assembly for almost all its products, especially the iPhone and iPad.
  •  But it ended in October 2014 with GTAT filing for bankruptcy, hundreds of people put out of work, and GTAT’s chief executive and chief operating officer facing questions about insider dealing after they sold millions of dollars’ worth of GTAT stock before Apple’s iPhone announcement in September.
  • Though it doesn’t actually own any factories, Apple pours gigantic amounts of money – about $12.5bn in the past four quarters – into “plant, property and equipment”, the majority equipping its suppliers to make its products.

Read more at The Guardian

Economic volatility, low commodity prices to hurt mining industry

  • Global economic challenges, the strengthening US economy and an imbalance of supply and demand have had a devastating impact on the commodities market.
  • Current slump in prices was reflecting the cyclical nature of the industry.
  • For gold companies, while the long-term view was above current spot prices, volatility remained the key issue.
  • For base metal producers, a growing global population that would have greater overall need for products such as cars, computers and household goods, had helped support current prices.

Read more at Mining Weekly

Still Avoiding Social Media? You’re Losing Business

  • 74% of adult internet users use social media platforms.
  • Regardless of whether you are a business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) organization, your company can utilize the power of social media to see a real return-on-investment (ROI).
  • However, if you are not on social media then you are missing an opportunity to not only increase sales, but also provide better customer service to your existing clients.
  • What Percentage of People are Social Based on Income?
    Less than $30,000/year—79%
    $30,000-$49,999/year –73%
    $50,000-$74,999/year –70%
    $75,000+/year –78%
  • One thing is certain, your target audience is social. However, if your business is not on the social media platforms where potential customers are, then you are simply missing out on opportunity

Read more at Business 2 Community

Accenture previews digital disruption

  • Accenture has promised to continue to enhance digital transformation and business efficiency through the application of relevant solutions and technology.
  •  The rise of social media platforms has changed the game, stressing that data has become another source of revenue for telcos after revenue from voice appears to be peaking.
  • New emphasis on data and new sources of value: attention, identity, reputation, social graph, machine intelligence, robots, genetic modelling, new buyer values, change in control points and a winner takes all phenomena.

Read more at Biztech Africa

G20 climate challenge calls for a rethink of economics

  • Focusing on growth, the Brisbane G20 leaders’ summit has not grappled with three key issues.
  • How much more growth can the planet survive?
  • How can poorer nations raise their living standards to parity with the “developed” world?
  • How can a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth be realised?

Read more at The Conversation

How much do you really know about digital currencies?

In a report commissioned by HP, the Ponemon Institute has made a number of interesting finds. Its “Security & Compliance Trends in Innovative Electronic Payments” paper reveals that support for digital currencies and new electronic payment systems are perhaps stronger than originally thought.

Need a primer on digital payments? Watch this very informative video from e-commerce platform PinnacleCart.

Understanding the future of money and mobile payments

New electronic payment systems and virtual currencies are expected to make paper currency the horse and buggy of the 21st century. Are organisations up to the challenge of ensuring security and privacy when businesses and consumers use these payment systems for purchasing items and transferring of funds?

And while 79 per cent of the US organisations that took part in the research plan to adopt digital currencies, a key barrier to the adoption of innovative electronic payments remains. Namely: the issue of security. In terms of new electronic payments, all of the following were cited in respondent’s answers as either currently supported in marketplaces or the not too distant future: payments with a mobile device or use of phone number, e-currency (Bitcoin or other open source P2P money), stored value cards, and bar codes.

The biggest concern seems to be authentication risks with the use of virtual currencies. While new payment models are evolving, but the same security fundamentals for maximum protection in the overall payment process are still needed. The most critical are one-time passwords or tokens, federated identity and authentication systems and multi-factor authentication

There is also the perception that the pressure to quickly migrate to the use of innovative electronic payments is making it difficult to address the security and privacy issues.

A case-in-point: Digital wallets (or e-wallets) are used to hold virtual currency – and high profile names in technology like Google and Apple already have solutions in place to drive the adaption rate. In-fact belief is so strong that almost half (46 per cent) of respondents predict that virtual currencies will overtake paper currencies within the next five years. Perhaps there’s some truth in this… we are increasingly looking to financial institutions and credit card companies to make the inroads needed to take such practices to the next level. They’ll be the ones to create new approaches to the security and privacy of the electronic payment platform. These organisations are closer to the consumer experience with electronic payment systems and might have a greater incentive to innovate and improve both security and privacy.

What do you make of these new virtual payment systems: is more time needed to fully realise the benefits (and drawbacks) of such innovations? 

Strategies to limit backdoor or maverick buying

Procurement Professionals on LinkedInThis guest blog was written by Dr. Tom DePaoli and originally posted in the Procurement Professionals LinkedIn group. It has been redistributed with their permission.  Read more on Procurement Professionals LinkedIn group at: http://linkd.in/1uupe8p or Twitter: @ProcurementProf

Backdoor or maverick buying is a perplexing problem that plagues many purchasing organizations. The methods to counteract this behavior are highly dependent upon the cultural climate and ethical standards of your organization. There is no universal solution.

Strategies to Limit Backdoor or Maverick Buying

 

People’s behaviors are influenced by consequences. If there are no consequences for backdoor buying the behavior will continue and grow. Some of my suggestions are drastic, others are more reasonable. Purchasing professionals must use their judgment to select the appropriate actions that fit their particular organization.

An important aspect to solving this issue is to remain objective and to try to gather data on the costs of backdoor buying. These could include lost discounts, lost rebates, and extra transactional work by purchasing and others. Many purchasing organizations know the average transactional cost of a regular transaction with an approved supplier. Try to calculate the extra cost with an unapproved supplier. Always control your emotions when discussing this issue.

Here are some reasonable tactics to create an organizational atmosphere and climate that helps discourage backdoor buying. In my experience the biggest offender is usually the engineering department. So involve engineering in cross-functional supplier selection teams and standardization initiatives. Make them a stakeholder in approving suppliers. Get the vice president of engineering on board with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) standardization and have them participate in OEM standardization processes.

Consider establishing a policy of no gifts or gratuities to be accepted from suppliers by both purchasing and all other employees (zero tolerance). This discourages lunchtime promises or promise buys to suppliers by non-purchasing employees. Another alternative is to have purchasing have their own modest budget to entertain, socialize and conduct work sessions with suppliers.

Get your compliance employees on board with your policy i.e., your legal department and accounting. Craft an approved supplier only purchasing policy and make it clear that unauthorized purchases will not be honored by accounts payable. Keep the list of approved suppliers visible and updated. Use your software safeguard controls to limit buying privileges and cross reference the approved supplier list. Many purchase cards can be limited to specific approved suppliers and or categories of goods. Meet with your approved preferred suppliers and ask them to use the grapevine to communicate any purchases from unauthorized suppliers directly to you. Most will gladly do this.

One of the most effective drastic actions occurred when I worked for a global chemical company. The company had just spent over $200 million on a worldwide ERP system. The CEO sent out a strong memo saying that all purchases must be made on the ERP system and only from the approved suppliers in the ERP system.  Employees were required to use the new ERP system. The very first day four employees went off system to purchase some items from a non-approved supplier. The CEO personally fired them and publicized the results of the incident to all employees. Needless to say there were no more such purchases.

Do your networking and informal work before you institute your policy. Meet one-on-one with stakeholders or in small meetings to explain your reasons for your policy and get their buy-in before you roll it out.

Establishing a policy against backdoor buying requires some deft maneuvering by purchasing that correctly judges the culture of your organization. Instituting the appropriate policy will help reduce backdoor buying. More important, you must enforce the policy and reprimand employees who violate it. A backdoor buying policy unenforced, is both hollow and meaningless.