All posts by Procurious HQ

Could Uber’s business model tackle procurement’s next challenges?

In a week that saw the CIPS Conference juggernaut roll into town, and Tesco (still) reeling from overstated first-half profits [more on that here] – you might have missed the following nuggets of news:

Copy Uber’s model to tackle procurement’s next big challenges

  • According to CIPS economist John Glen, speaking at the CIPS Annual Conference in London last week, Uber is not actually in the business of taxis.
  • “Uber is in the business of looking out into the world where there is excess capacity and resources that are not being fully utilised and matching the resource with customers who want to use it,” Glen told delegates.
  • “How do you look at capacity that exists within your own business that is not being currently fully utilised, that you could rent out to someone else or use in imaginative ways?”
  • He continued: “We now have to start to be very clever about how we form alliances with our supply chain, how we understand what it is our customer wants, how we use technologies that are out there cleverly with assets and customers in different geographies, and that is going to be our world in the next 12 months and beyond.”

Read more at Supply Management

Rating agencies’ demands pose threat to commodity supply chain

  • Commodity-price spikes could become more common if credit rating agencies drive up the cost of capital for leading trading houses, forcing them to hold less inventory, a leading consultancy has warned.
  • In a new report on the commodity trading industry, co-authored by Graham Sharp, one of the founders of Trafigura, the consultancy says that by including debts associated with trading in its calculation, the agencies could drive up the cost of traders’ capital. As a result, these companies would have “significantly less incentive” to hold high volumes of inventory and resolve potential supply disruptions.

  • The big commodity traders are drawing greater attention from investors as they issue more bonds and financial instruments to help finance the acquisition of assets that range from coal mines to storage terminals and petrol retailers.

Read more at the FT.com

California launches high-speed train procurement

  • The Californian high speed rail programme envisages provision of a ‘one seat ride’ between Los Angeles and San Francisco by 2028 within a budget of $68bn.
  • Expressions of interest are to be submitted to the California High Speed Rail Authority by October 22 from potential suppliers of high speed trainsets for the planned 836 km network that would link the San Francisco Bay Area with the Los Angeles basin by 2028.
  • ‘We are going to have the first true high-speed rail system in America and industry leaders from around the world are eager to talk to us about why their trains should be running on our tracks’, commented CHSRA Chief Executive Jeff Morales. ‘This is a big moment for our programme.’

Read more at the Railway Gazette

H&M’s environmental sustainability coordinator on sustainable materials

  • The Guardian spoke to Erik Karlsson, H&M’s environmental sustainability coordinator, about the environmental credentials of the new line and the H&M partnership with Jeanologia.
  • He revealed: H&M has been working with more sustainable materials for many years now. Currently, we are the largest user of organic cotton. Our ambition now is to be able to close the loop on textiles, ie produce new fibres from old clothes. In this collection we have two products with recycled cotton from our garment collecting program.
  • To create Conscious denim, washes have been scored red, yellow or green (where green indicates the toughest criteria) for water consumption and energy consumption. To meet Conscious denim standards at H&M, garments must be made with organic, recycled or climate smart cellulose materials and the washing process should score ‘green’.

Read more at The Guardian

Hermes on equality in the supply chain

  • Retail Week has published an article that highlights the success Hermes has had in bringing about equality across the business.
  • The writer – Carole Woodhead, is CEO of Hermes.
  • Women hold a third of the main board positions at Hermes UK. In addition, 25 per cent of all senior management positions are females, as are more than 60 per cent of our field team leaders. In terms of the supply chain sector, women are extremely well represented at Hermes and the company is above the industry norm.
  • We have also recently welcomed Clare Bottle to Hermes who has taken up the position of head of courier service. Clare brings more than 20 years of industry experience to the team, previously working as national logistics manager at Lafarge Tarmac. Clare is also vice-chair of Women in Logistics UK and a trustee of Transaid.

Read more at Retail Week

Coca-Cola green branding devalues the colour’s ethical heritage

  • The cola wars are back on again with the launches of Coke Life and Pepsi True but their use of green branding leaves a sour taste in the mouth, says Chris Arnold, creative director, Creative Orchestra and author of Ethical Marketing & The New Consumer.
  • It’s packaged in a green container which implies it’s some kind of natural, ethical, environmentally-friendly product. What’s more, Coke has spent over 100 years associating the brand with the colour red, so this seems a betrayal of the brand to suddenly go green.
  • With two brands, that aren’t exactly seen as ethical brands, their use of green just devalues the use of the colour green and it’s association with natural and environmental products. Coke claims the green is inspired by the green leaf of the Stevia plant. Seriously?

Read more at Marketing Magazine

Tesco scandal shines a light on the retailer-supplier relationship

All is not well at Tesco HQ… Amid tales of the supermarket’s accounting scandal, a colossal 4 billion pounds has been wiped from its stock market value. The trouble stemmed from an overstatement of its first-half profit – a full 250 million. Not a small drop in the ocean by anyone’s standards.

“The Financial Conduct Authority has notified Tesco that it has commenced a full investigation following the overstatement of expected profit for the half year which was described in our announcement of 22 September 2014 and which is currently the subject of an independent review by Deloitte. Tesco will continue to cooperate fully with the FCA and other relevant authorities considering this matter.”

It’s not simply a tale of accountants getting their sums wrong… the wounds of deceit bleed deep, and it’s the suppliers on the other end that will hurt the most.

According to this story on The Grocer, a supplier with close ties to Tesco has revealed that buyers are “desperate” and are artificially bringing forward huge payments in order to fill the “huge gaps” left.

Tesco scandal has suppliers divided

Luckily the suppliers have the ears of the government-appointed watchdog – namely Christine Tacon, an Adjudicator of the Groceries Code. The Adjudicator’s motivations focus on whether the supermarket has breached code that adversely affects suppliers. Such breaches can include payment delays or changes to supply agreements.

David Sables, CEO at Sentinel Management Consultants told The Grocer that he believed this was merely “an extension of what was always going on.”

Graham Ruddick, Retail Correspondent for The Telegraph, writes: “There is currently no code, regulator or set of rules controlling the relationship between suppliers and retailers in the UK. In addition, there is nowhere to turn for a supplier if it feels it is being bullied by a retailer. Many suppliers are too scared to speak out against a larger retailer for fear of being delisted or replaced by a rival, so they suffer in silence and agree to the unreasonable demands being placed on them.”

He further states that the Tesco scandal could spark a long overdue shake-up of the retailer-suppler relationship – noting that: “Last year this lack of regulation resulted in the horse meat crisis.”

If one good thing is to come out of this sorry debacle, maybe it should be this?

Cheese-in-a-can inventor turns to procurement

According to legend, when captors of Saddam Hussein searched his bunker, they discovered a high calcium cheese-in-a-can developed by Australian man Peter Force.

Peter Force

While not entirely a procurement project, it’s a story Peter recounts with pride and a wry smile because it shows how far and wide his rather unusual invention was sold around the world.

The product came about while Peter was working in research and development for Kraft, before he got his break in procurement at Parmalat.

Peter actively sought a procurement role with the FMCG behemoth after realising that career progression opportunities were severely lacking in the research and development field.

His Parmalat boss told him he needed to study business to get a break in procurement, which he did. He already had a Bachelor of Food Science and Technology, where he gained honours for inventing a fat-free cheese.

Then there’s the Advanced Diploma in Business Management and a Diploma in Project Management, a Graduate Diploma in Purchasing and Supply and a Graduate Certificate of Writing, Editing and Publishing. Whew.

“I told the procurement manager at Parmalat I wanted to work for him. He took me seriously after he happened to catch me in a heated debate with someone in marketing, saying he could see I had the backbone for the job. When a job became available, I applied for it and was successful, so switched to the dark side.”

He recalls a trip to China for Parmalat to audit the quality of strawberries destined for the company’s Vaalia-branded yoghurt. “I told my mates I went to China to pick fruit, which was kind of true.”

The keen angler has also worked in rail, government, mining and energy industries. He now works for AGL in the merchant energy division, which is one of Australia’s leading renewable energy companies.

Procurement is a fine balance between getting what you want, and being nice, he explains.

“I like people, and sometimes they like me back. Either way, my aim is to get a better deal with a supplier, but I also know we’ll need to continue working together, so I don’t want to upset the relationship.

“Other times, I need to tell suppliers when their bid has been unsuccessful, but I always want to bid next time I go to market so I’m nice about it.”

Our takeaways from the CIPS 2014 Conference

Procurious headed to Kings Place to take in the sights, and hear from a wealth of insightful speakers at the biggest procurement event of the year – the 2014 CIPS Conference and Exhibition.

Having survived the global economic crisis, this year’s theme (unsurprisingly) focused on ‘standards, ethics and innovation’ within what CIPS calls ‘a new procurement future’. 

With Craig Lardner chairing proceedings, delegates were treated to a packed day full of talks, break-out sessions, and a distinguished guest from the world of broadcasting.

CIPS Conference 2014
Facebook.com, CIPS

Some of our highlights from the day included:

Dr John Glen’s opening session was an early highlight of the day. John is an economist for CIPS, and lectures at the Cranfield School of Management. If you’ve ever struggled to grasp economics, the good Dr offered a brilliantly accessible half hour. He also suggested that the next big challenge for supply chains would be to adopt the business model that’s made Uber into such a success story.

IKEA’s Environmental and Sustainable Development Manager – Charlie Browne, revealed how the business has reduced supplier count in a bid to maximize effectiveness. Sustainability is also in IKEA’s blood – with the retailer’s efforts dating back to 1990s.

Tesco’s Frances Goodwin offered her thoughts on the role of ethical trading in procurement. She left us with a surprising nugget around procuring a banana – in that the supply chain is (on average) 5 layers deep.

Rita Clifton – President of the Market Research Society and former Chair of Interbrand presented a light-hearted session on the power of branding. Rita distilled the ingredients that make a strong brand, and revealed some of the brands that she thinks have got it right. She also confirmed something we’ve been saying for a while: Procurement has an image problem. Do a Google Image search for procurement and see what we mean…

In what was possibly the biggest announcement of the day – Babs Omotowa, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria LNG Limited was announced as the incoming CIPS President. Babs will take the mantle from Craig Lardner four weeks from now.

Our favourite break-out session was delivered courtesy of Clive Lewis – Founder and Managing Director of Illumine Training. Clive guided us through 5 different methods to help boost creativity, and approach problems differently.

Elsewhere, Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) and Selex ES talked about building strong supplier relationships. The latter having previously been crowned the overall winner at CIPS Supply Management Awards 2014 for their work with Research Electro-Optics (REO).

To cap a busy day off, influential food writer (and occasional TV personality)  – Jay Rayner, provided a thought-provoking (and at times, hilarious) commentary on food supply chains. With insights like: full service supermarkets cannot compete with discounters – and in the end it’s the suppliers that suffer. We suspect he may have also snuck a few plugs for his book in there too…

Twitter also provided some key takeaways – here is what some of the other attendees were saying:

CIPS Conference 2014

CIPS Conference 2014

CIPS Conference 2014

CIPS Conference 2014

CIPS Conference 2014

What makes people hide from social networks?

Ello. Is this the social network you have been waiting for?

This is what happens when social networks like Facebook and Twitter start to veer off-course – disillusioned programmers come up with something they think everyone wants: ad-free, and to some extent – private.

Simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful.
Simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful.

Going incognito

But what does this ‘simple, beautiful & ad-free’ new platform actually achieve? At this early stage it all reeks of being a bit too cool for school… You get the sense it’s been designed for those desperate to stand out, but in the same breath want to rebel against the system, damn the man. There’s rebellion bubbling beneath the monochrome swooshes, but everything is so hidden it’s hard to fathom what’s really going on.

You want to hide? Sure, you can do that (along with everyone else who’s desperately trying to suss out if their friends are there too). We’re as good as invisible – but this isn’t entirely the happy outcome everyone thought it would be.

“Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold…”

OK, maybe we’re overplaying Ello’s original modus-operandi here – but deep down it is still driving at the same thing.

Why is anonymity so important?

Beards. It does beards well. A number of the site’s founders sport impressive facial furniture.
Beards. It does beards well. A number of the site’s founders sport impressive facial furniture.

Social networks (by their very nature) are social. They are a not palm-laden solace for shying away from the wandering eyes of the world.

Many will surely (mistakenly) flock to Ello for peace of mind -after all, a few lofty statements go a long way… But on the face of it, it seems that Ello is no different: The information Ello collects includes your location, language, referring web site, and time spent visiting Ello.

Dig a little deeper and we note that users can however opt to switch this tracking off by visiting their settings page. With the best intentions this still won’t stop your browser from communicating/disclosing your activity to Internet servers the world over – albeit anonymously – so is there really such a thing as going dark?

On its ‘WTF’ page Ello reiterates that it respects a browser’s Do Not Track preferences, but notes such efforts are effectively null and void if you happen to use Chrome, or use services Google-powered search services or YouTube.

Did you manage to get an invite? You can add me on mfsmith20 and we can explore this crazy place together…

What do you make of it all: do you think that Ello has a worthwhile place in society? 

Sears mimics Zara’s fast fashion approach

Fast fashion is a bit of a buzzword around these parts, so we’re somewhat surprised to find it hasn’t featured more heavily in our weekly news roundups. Of course now our lead-item has just gone and bucked that trend… Eyes-down for that and more:

falling_in_fashion_de_sears_8726_900x656

Sears mimics Zara’s fast fashion approach

  • Carlos Slim, following the lead of fellow billionaire Amancio Ortega, is freshening up his Sears outlets in Mexico with an of-the-moment sense of style in a bid to boost profits.
  • The retailer is joining the ranks of Ortega’s fashion empire Zara by introducing new brands that quickly convert the latest runway styles of clothes and accessories into cheaper, mass-distributed goods. It’s a change of pace for Sears, which opened its first store in Mexico City in 1947 and whose 82 Mexican locations are now owned by Slim’s Grupo Sanborns SAB.
  • Sanborns aims to benefit from the 30 percent growth in Mexican consumer spending that PricewaterhouseCoopers projects through 2017. Slim is betting that his “fast-fashion” strategy will help lure new, young consumers who favor retailers such as H&M and Forever 21, which opened its eighth store in Mexico last month.

Read more at Business of Fashion

Qatar Airways and IAG Cargo considering expanding capacity sharing agreement

  • Qatar Airways Cargo, and the cargo handling division of the International Airlines Group, IAG Cargo, are considering expanding a capacity sharing agreement signed in May to cover additional Asian destinations.
  • Under the agreement’s current terms, Qatar Airways operate five weekly B777-F flights between Hong Kong and London Stansted via Mumbai International, Chennai, Delhi International and Dhaka on various routings, on behalf of IAG Cargo.
  • IAG entered the agreement after British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) prematurely terminated a lease contract with Atlas Air for three B747-8Fs operated by Global Supply Systems (GSS, London Stansted). The two parties are now considering expanding the deal to include points in Pakistan. Dave Shepherd, Head of Commercial at IAG Cargo, has said that the decision to expand the agreement is a result of its ongoing success adding that it could be a model for other carriers to follow.

Via Supply Chain Digital

Procurement in the UK

Metropolitan Police uses P2P system to transform procurement

  • The Metropolitan Police has introduced a purchase-to-pay (P2P) system to transform the way it procures goods and services.
  • Vicky Morgan, director of procurement operations at the service, said the iBuy system has helped improve customer service, reduce processing costs, improve financial reporting and balance costs. Speaking at the eWorld Purchasing and Supply conference in London, Morgan explained that she thought introducing such a system would be the main part of the transformation project. But she soon found out business process and change management were bigger hurdles.
  • To further improve the system, Morgan launched iBuy Plus to introduce “a very different way of working”. Staff are now required to make every purchase order themselves, and Morgan has reduced the numerous levels of approvals. Before this system, an order would have to be approved by around three people.

Read more at Supply Management

Whitehall mandates supply chain cyber security standard for suppliers

  • The UK government wants to improve cyber security in its supply chain. From next week on 1st October, all suppliers must be compliant with new “Cyber Essentials” controls if they are bidding for government contracts which involve the handling of sensitive and personal information and the provision of certain technical products and services.
  • The UK government has developed Cyber Essentials in consultation with industry, and according to the government, it offers “a sound foundation of basic cyber hygiene measures which, when properly implemented, can significantly reduce a company’s vulnerability.” The scheme’s set of five critical controls is applicable to all types of organisations, of all sizes, giving protection from the most prevalent forms of threat coming from the internet.
  • Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: “It’s vital that we take steps to reduce the levels of cyber security risk in our supply chain. Cyber Essentials provides a cost-effective foundation of basic measures that can defend against the increasing threat of cyber attack. Businesses can demonstrate that they take this issue seriously and that they have met government requirements to respond to the threat. Gaining this kind of accreditation will also demonstrate to non-government customers a business’ clear stance on cyber security.

Read more at Government Computing

Taiwan losing its grip on iPhone supply chain

  • Production of the hot-selling iPhone 6 is bringing business to a number of Taiwanese technology firms and boosting factory orders on the mainland, although supplier competition and sourcing changes at Apple have taken a bite out of the region’s dependence on the popular handsets.
  • Apple has contracted Taiwanese tech giant Hon Hai Precision to make all its iPhone 6 Plus handsets and 70 per cent of basic iPhone 6 orders, analysts say. Pegatron, based in Taipei, will assemble the other 30 per cent, the Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute in Taiwan estimates.
  • “Most of the worldwide assembly for the iPhone 6 range will take place in China, because that is where the lowest costs and biggest factories are located,” said Neil Mawston, global wireless practice executive director at Strategy Analytics in Britain.
  • But as Apple changes specs from earlier iPhone models and has the pick from a bigger field of suppliers worldwide, mainland and Taiwanese companies are getting fewer orders compared to older iPhones. “The components for the iPhone 6 portfolio come from a very globalised supply chain,” Mawston said. Taiwan will pocket just US$25 to US$30 from the total US$245 to US$255 manufacturing bill of materials from each iPhone 6 handset, according to the Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute.

Read more at SCMP.com

Staying active and healthy with Jawbone UP24

Fitness trackers are proving big business; if you need proof, just know that the likes of Nike, Sony, Fitbit, and Samsung have already jumped onboard the somewhat profitable activity train.

The Jawbone UP24 is another from this particular stable, in so much as it’s an activity tracker designed to be worn on the wrist.

Jawbone UP24 fitness tracker review

Design and appearance 

The Jawbone UP24’s unobtrusive nature makes it perfect for those just dipping their toe into the activity tracker waters. If you’re scared of making a statement,  and instead are looking to make small, gradual changes to your lifestyle, then this could be the fitness band for you.

For the fashion-conscious among you, the Jawbone UP24 is available in a variety of colours – namely: red, navy blue, lemon lime, onyx, persimmon, and pink coral.

Jawbone UP24 fitness band - reviewed

A selection of sizes (small, medium, and large) ensures you’ll get the best fit – there’s not much of a difference in weight between the models either. The UP24 weighs in at 19g, 22g, and 23g respectively.

The band itself is made out of toughened, textured rubber. And we had no concerns when it came to wearing it for long periods of time, as the rubber happily possesses hypoallergenic qualities (skin irritation be gone – hurrah!)

Charging is achieved via a 2.5mm connector (think headphone jack in all but function) – this isn’t your standard USB charging cable. But you’re only looking at around 80 minutes for a full charge when connected.

How does it work?

What's inside the Jawbone UP24
The innards of the band.

The UP24 couples a Tri-axis accelerometer with some natty algorithms to passively track and quantify your steps, distance, active and idle time.

By taking into account your age, gender, height and weight, the band can also calculate the number of calories burned during a period of activity.

The band itself tracks your movement and sleep, but elsewhere the UP app will keep tabs on your meals and mood.

UP24 app

This is Jawbone’s second activity tracker – the original Jawbone UP lacks the newies’ Bluetooth Smart syncing (useful for viewing your data in real-time).

A lack of built-in screen means you’ll still be reliant on your mobile – but you’ll likely bump into a lamppost if you’re constantly distracted/keep-checking your wrist. Suffice to say, this omission isn’t exactly a deal-breaker. Plus, the band doesn’t rely on an ever-present connection – you can happily go about your business without using your mobile as a crutch. When you get the itch to analyse your movements, simply make sure you’re within reach of your Bluetooth-enabled device and press the button on the band to sync all recent data.

Currently none of the fitness bands in the marketplace offer any form of location-tracking. If you’re after a solution that plots your run/route, a GPS running watch may better serve your needs.

In terms of record-keeping, the app puts in a sterling effort. Your steps (or progress towards the daily goal if you want to think of it that way) are displayed in the form of a helpful chart. Plus you can deep-dive to get a better look at specified time-periods, should you so wish.

Sleep is also displayed in this way – the chart will break your slumber down into heavy/light periods, duration, if you woke at all, and how many sheep you counted before nodding-off…

Gentle encouragement

Jawbone UP24 app

A little encouragement goes a long way… The UP app offers-up daily recommendations to help encourage healthy living. Whether these be around water intake, reminders to go to bed earlier, or you’ve just been inactive for too long. The band can be programmed to deliver vibrating reminders, which is useful for encouraging you to get up from your desk, and give your legs a shake. Coupled with the band, it’s like having your very own motivational speaker on your wrist…

The iOS version of the UP app also allows you to track caffeine.

If you already use apps like RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, etc. you can import data into the UP app and delve into the minutiae of your activity.

Using the Jawbone UP24
The UP24 app allows you to keep a record of your food and drink intake… like this Cava here.

I took the UP24 band along with me to Seville. In such muggy climes it would’ve been foolish to do ‘too much’, but in the gaps between siesta and a hundred mouthfuls of tapas I managed to put in more than my recommended daily average.

During my tenure with the Jawbone UP24, news of a significant update was announced. The update brings with it increased battery life (a full 14 days – up from the 7 days fresh out of the box). Updating the band will erase all current activity mind, so make sure you’ve recently synced your Jawbone before carrying it out.

Like what you’ve heard? Price-wise you can get your hands on the Jawbone UP24 for around the £105 mark in Europe.

On a mission to challenge procurement’s misconceptions

A few months into a year-long work placement role with Mercedes-Benz, Emily Gloyns admits she was ready for a new challenge.

Emily Gloyns

“The challenge was no longer there, so I began shadowing buyers to better understand their roles. I expanded my role by supporting them with drafting RFx documents and analysis tasks.”

Her initiative paid off. Emily was promoted to Graduate Buyer seven months into the work placement and before completing her Bachelor of Business. As Graduate Buyer, she was responsible for the entire marketing and travel categories for the luxury car marque.

She thrived in the role, which allowed her to work with lead buyers in Germany on major global contracts.

Emily was tapped on the shoulder by EnergyAustralia a couple of years later, where she’s currently the Category Lead for ICT, looking after telecommunications, software and hardware. In the next few years, she hopes to be in a managerial role.

While Emily is grateful she was curious enough to follow around those Mercedes-Benz buyers and ask questions, she admits to being frustrated by the misconception that the procurement industry is filled with either dull or grumpy people with the solitary goal of saving money for the business, regardless of whether it compromises on quality or end result.

“What I love about procurement is that it’s so easy to change these misconceptions. It’s all about the approach you take with your stakeholders and vendors. It’s fun to work with a diverse stakeholder group and vary your approach depending on their personality and their objectives in their role.

“I guess you could say I love the people side of procurement, as it can be the most challenging. And I love a good challenge.”

Her main focus this year is stakeholder management and category strategy planning. She also plans to invest more time in keeping up to date with the ICT industry.

Outside of work she loves cooking, and admits to being a serious chocoholic. “I love having a holiday planned too, whether it’s an overseas trip or a visit to somewhere local I haven’t been before.”

Do you have events coming out of your ears?

How’s your calendar looking these days? Busy schedule? Yeah us too…

Procurious Events listings

We’d love nothing more than to alleviate your calendar clashes, but we wouldn’t be doing our job properly if we didn’t offer you a tempting timetable of the hottest events in procurement to swallow all of your free time…

Regular Procurious users will already be well-versed in the benefits of the Events hub, but for those who are yet to dabble here’s a primer:

How? Just pay a visit to our Events page to view all future listings. Clicking on an event will take you to a dedicated page where you can discover more about the day(s). Think essential info like the programme, speakers, fee, and other Procurious members who might be thinking of attending.

What’s more, all Events on Procurious are searchable – utilise the search box to narrow down your options and hone-in on your event of choice.

Your RSVP

State your intentions by RSVPing to an event. Thinking of putting in an appearance? Just select the ‘I am going’ or ‘maybe’ options. If you really don’t think you’ll make it, there’s no shame in declining the invite.

Your RSVP will also be viewable to the other members of Procurious via a post that appears in their Community feed.

All Event listings are archived too, so if you’re feeling nostalgic you can also view past events. This is a great place to catch-up with attendees – you can reminisce by leaving comments on the page.

Apps to the rescue!

When it comes to managing your time digitally, you’re better off ditching your phone’s default calendar and embracing one of the excellent third-party alternatives…

We couldn’t resist making a few recommendations:

For iOS: We’d scrimp for either Sunrise or Fantastical (now in its second iteration).

Sunrise calendar app

Android user? Good news! Sunrise is also available for Android devices – we’d also point you in the direction of both aCalendar and Today Calendar.

For the Windows Phone users among you, Chronos is certainly worth a look-in. In addition the default app has also just been updated with new features, so if you have a moment to spare – check it out.

Sourcing things differently: the world of alternative storefronts

Here in 2014 companies are increasingly looking for different ways to get products into the hands of the end user. We’re not just talking about practical logistics, but every decision and thought that informs a customer’s purchasing process. Take Internet sensation Alibaba for instance – sure you can draw parallels to other popular online storefronts, but there’s something in its old-fashioned street-vendor approach that no one else has successfully harnessed in this age.

Elsewhere HowGood is offering shoppers the chance to shop transparently, informing around sustainability and ethical factors.

What is Alibaba? Alibaba online marketplace

What is Alibaba? 

Described by The Economist as the world’s greatest bazaar, Alibaba is a Chinese e-commerce platform that is single-handedly responsible for carrying out more transactions than both eBay and Amazon (and that’s combined…) In terms of numbers Alibaba represents a massive 80 per cent of online purchases in China.

Alibaba is a haven for manufacturers, suppliers, importers and exporters.

Three websites actually sit under the Alibaba umbrella, and they are: Taobao, Tmall and Alibaba.com.

It’s an online marketplace (for want of a better explanation), one that’s free for users to browse and buy, but sellers can pay for ads in order to stand out. It’s come some way from its roots when it existed solely for the purpose of connecting manufacturers to potential customers. In 2012 Taobao and Tmall saw transactions totalling $170 billion being made – and revenue in 2013 stood at $6.73 billion.

There’s more than just the transactional side of the business too. Services such as AliSourcePro will allow businesses to source new supplies, and get quotations for stock in under 12 hours. A payment system – Alipay, meanwhile handles small and micro financial transactions.

The rise and rise of Alibaba: A healthy investment

The Chinese e-commerce giant has made it into the history books by achieving the largest initial public offering (IPO) since records began. Upon its debut Alibaba stood tall at $92.70 (a full 38 per cent more than the original estimate) – and racking up a colossal $25 billion in total shares.

And with that, Alibaba founder Jack Ma has somewhat unsurprisingly just topped China’s rich list too.

Your sustainable weekly shop

HowGood sustainable shopping

Want to be better informed about the things you’re putting into your shopping basket?

HowGood is offered through both a dedicated app and online experience – and has just amassed $2 million in funding.

Researches and rates products based on a number of criteria (60 In total); with everything from a company’s behaviour over time, to the provenance of ingredients and the manufacturing process.

Procurement under the spotlight

HowGood’s website states:

“We investigate the products’ ingredients – and the company’s procurement and processing methods. We’ll look at everything from corporate governance to specific issues like hazardous waste emissions.

We’ll also put company behaviour in the context of their industry. So if a company’s industry has naturally low carbon emissions, their emissions policy will carry a lower weighting — and vice versa.”

HowGood’s genesis dates back to 2007, in 2014 it now shares data to small US grocers spread across 21 different states. Its ‘Featured grocer’ spotlight regularly identifies highly-rated products and suppliers.

Find out more about the food you eat at howgood.com