Shared from the Fri 01 Dec, 2017 - Financial Review Digital Edition

Consolidate suppliers to cap business costs

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Winc offers everything from snacks for the kitchen, to furniture and computers.

Every business wants to keep a lid on costs, save time and keep staff content, but many don’t realise there’s a simple way to do it that’s right under their noses – consolidating their suppliers.

Darren Fullerton is the chief executive of leading Australian business solutions provider Winc. He says supplier consolidation can save time and money, as well as keeping employees engaged in meaningful work.

It’s that work that is interrupted when companies receive and process multiple deliveries during the day. Similarly, paying multiple accounts or following up any issues with invoices also takes up time.

‘‘There are real, tangible costs attached to [having multiple suppliers] and many companies are only just now realising the value of consolidation,’’ Fullerton says.

Besides being a one-stop shop for all office needs, Winc (a creative take on Work Incorporated) allows its customers to order products online for next-day delivery.

‘‘With the largest range of choice in Australia, desktop-to-doorstep next-day delivery, and industry experts who help our customers see around corners, we are seeing increased interest in our offering,’’ Fullerton says.

Winc offers everything from computers and technology, to furniture, to kitchen snacks. With one supplier, businesses can quickly work out strong solutions for their whole office, rather than trying to co-ordinate and manage many different suppliers and timeframes.

‘‘There’s a clear cost-benefit to consolidating, but also a motivation benefit for employees who don’t want to spend too much time on stuff they don’t really want to work on,’’ Fullerton says.

Winc’s business hasn’t always been so streamlined and savvy. Traditionally recognised for office supplies under the trading name Staples, and before that Corporate Express, the company has branched out in recent times.

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Fullerton says that a few years ago, the company began to notice that the requirements of its 26,000 clients – companies, governments, education providers, healthcare providers and financial institutions – were rapidly changing.

Over the past year, Winc itself has undergone a huge strategic transformation, driven by the ongoing technology revolution and the massive influx of millennials joining the workforce.

As well as shifting from traditional office stationery to all-of-office supplies, the company is now able to use its rich purchasing data and insights to provide companies with information about the health of their business and help them reduce costs.

‘‘Our customers’ business models have evolved and therefore so has our offering,’’ Fullerton says.

Winc uses dedicated sales experts and purchasing history to provide insights and feedback that can increase a company’s efficiency and bottom line.

Each sales executive specialises in a particular industry, giving them expertise so they provide insights into the current state and future trends of the industry that they serve. Fullerton notes that companies aren’t always on top of their rogue supplier spend.

‘‘If all of a sudden [the organisation’s] ordering levels are dropping, sometimes procurement professionals will have a look at that and say ‘that’s a good thing, we’re using less’.

‘‘Typically it’s not and that’s the insight we bring. What’s usually happening is that their workers and learners are going out with their corporate cards and buying supplies from elsewhere, or claiming it as an expense, at a higher cost to the company.

‘‘That’s our biggest ‘A-ha’ moment,’’ Fullerton says. ‘‘Businesses like ours were set up to go and win a contract from a procurement professional. You win the contract and you might have it for say three years but you didn’t have much to do with the end user.

‘‘But what most didn’t see was that the people inside the business – who were shopping with their feet – were becoming more digitally savvy, increasingly shopping online.

‘‘They had smartphones in their pockets and their purchasing decisions were made almost independently of what the procurement folks thought.’’

Fullerton believes that taking on a single supplier like Winc gives businesses a cutting edge in their industry by making them more efficient, more nimble, and by keeping their staff more content and productive.

‘‘The work environment has changed so dramatically that we needed to change our offering,’’ he says.

‘‘And it’s still evolving. Every month we add additional products to our range, find new ways to provide insights to our customers and continue to improve our digital experience – it’s critical if you want to keep ahead.’’

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