Purchasing Insight

Purchase to Pay, Purchasing & Procurement Process, Electronic Invoicing

In response to a witty remark by the artist James Whistler, Oscar Wilde declared “I wish I’d said that”. Quick as a flash, Whistler replied “You will Oscar, you will”.

I often think to myself “I wish I’d said that” especially whenever I read anything by Seth Godin. He distils wisdom into the most straight forward and frighteningly obvious observations. That’s why he’s a genius. The title of his book Purple Cow is one such example. The purple cow is the one that stands out from the crowd, the one that differentiates itself. This, Seth preaches, is what businesses need to do to promote themselves. Mostly, they don’t.

I’m not a marketer but I’m a seasoned marketee and from this side of the fence I can tell you, there is something wrong with the way B2B solution providers try to get their message out. continue reading…

It’s accepted wisdom that to pay suppliers promptly, that is on time according to agreed terms, is fair. It astonishes me when businesses – and it seems that big businesses are the worse culprits – deliberately fail to pay on time and seem to think that this is a legitimate business practice. But it is equally astonishing to see small businesses failing to help themselves when their customers pay late.

Some businesses are their own worse enemy when it comes to being paid on time and there is a few simple steps that they could be taking to minimize the pain of late payment. continue reading…

I suggested to the Paymaster General this week that the UK needs an e-invoicing Tzar. I’m not sure what amused him more – the idea of an e-invoicing Tzar or my scouse pronunciation of the word Tzar.*

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As technology matures, industries are transformed. It is very rare that a single technology inspires or effects the change. It is more usual that a gradual evolution of a mix of technologies lowers the barriers and opens up the opportunity for business models that would previously not have been worth serious consideration.

There was a time when the natural gas trapped in rocks under the ground, while known about, was simply not worth the effort to extract. But develop technologies like fracking that can tap this resource profitably and the future of a nation and its power needs is transformed.

If you understand the signs, it’s possible to see these fundamental changes coming and there is one such change in the financial services industry that is visible quite clearly on the horizon. A mix of technology has matured and a new business model, barely feasible until very recently, has become compelling. It’s good news for business. It’s not so good news for the banks.

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There’s a distinct change in tone in the latest press release from Tradeshift. It’s happy.

I’m not saying that press releases in the past were miserable, it’s just that I would have used other words to describe their character – frenetic or excited perhaps.

And the Tradeshift team has good reason to be happy. The headline announces the $75 million investment that they’ve just secured but what is really good news for the Tradeshifters, their customers and investors is the foothold they just gained in the third largest economy in the world. continue reading…

There’s a guy that wants to know how to learn how to negotiate. His friend, a professional buyer, explains to him that all he needs to do is to offer half of what he’s asked for when buying anything. Armed with this new skill, he goes off to buy himself a suit.

“That will be $200 sir” says the tailor. Our negotiator responds with an offer of $100.

“You drive a hard bargain” the tailor replies “but as I like you, you can take the suit for $100”

Our negotiator fixes the tailor with a stare. “$50” he snaps.

Realizing what’s going on and keen to serve other customers, the exasperated tailor gives the suit away. “Take it. It’s free. Just get out of here”

Negotiator: “I’ll have two” continue reading…

Nearly 18 months ago now in the fall of 2012, I was delighted to attend Taulia’s 1st customer conference in San Francisco. There was a quality turnout – small but quality. It was a cosy affair. What was so memorable was the enthusiasm of Taulia’s customers. It reminded me of the pioneering days of e-commerce when the early adopters struggled to contain their excitement. At that time, the technology was no secret and neither were the techniques particularly difficult, but to those that had passed over the internet threshold and actually implemented something, the results were more exciting than they’d dreamed. We might take Amazon for granted now but in the 90′s it was nothing less than a retail revolution. Remember how Dell transformed a whole industry? And of course once the secret (that was never a secret) was out, the adoption of internet based business exploded and the world changed.

And that’s what the 1st Taulia conference felt like. A bunch of intrepid pioneers – walking the walk while the rest were watching, waiting, wondering whether it would work.

So 18 months after that 1st Taulia event – where are they now? Was that excitement and confidence the prelude to the huge growth Taulia were promising? What does that cosy crowd look like now? continue reading…