The process of choosing a raw material supplier isn’t hard, but it’s not simple either. It’s a process that has been in place in the industry from the get-go and, to be honest, takes a great deal of time and effort. The challenges of selling quality ingredients have become even more complicated due to an increasingly crowded space, making it even more difficult to maintain visibility and relationships between companies and individuals within the supply chain. While our industry has been much slower to make changes in buying and selling processes, a shift is finally happening, a much-needed shift toward e-commerce.
The Tried and True
In the simplest terms possible, the traditional method of sourcing viable suppliers is done in person, the good old-fashioned face-to-face method. Assuming you have your expectations and business requirements laid out to help clarify what you need from your suppliers, the process should go something like this:
- Pinpoint potential suppliers – Look at exhibitors who attend industry trade shows, and sort through colleagues, existing but non-competing suppliers and industry directories.
- Cross-reference – Cross-reference your list of potential suppliers with your list of expectations and business requirements and reduce your list to only serious contenders. For example, maybe one supplier’s minimum order quantities are too high for your needs, or maybe another supplier’s production facilities are located abroad, making it difficult to get materials to you within a certain time frame.
- Vet each supplier that’s a match – You want a supplier who is going to help your business move forward in the long run, not just a company that is going to sell you something once and be done. Look at each company’s leadership, reputation, current clientele, financial health, etc.
- Request a quote – Reach out to each contender and ask them for a quote. Be sure to pay attention to their processes and procedures and how you well you work with your person of contact.
- Evaluate the finalists – Once you know, all the minor details ask for product samples and consider traveling to meet with your top candidates.
- Finally, make your selection – At this point, you should have ALL the information you need to determine if you are ready to move forward with a potential supplier.
While this is just an overview, it’s easy to see how much time, hard work, and money goes into researching, pitching, and traveling to make and maintain relationships in the industry.
Evolving from the Traditional Methods
This industry that we’re in is exciting, competitive and crowded, but it hasn’t come up to speed with e-commerce the way other industries have throughout the years.
Buyers of raw materials face problems that range from pricing to getting materials on time due to market pressures to having to buy more than they want because of sales, and then they end up sitting on a lot of extra materials that aren’t getting used. This is not only hurting these companies and their bottom lines, but there is a huge gap and a lack of visibility concerning reallocating this excess product, which is a HUGE waste factor. This happens mainly because the focus is on moving a business forward and not about what’s sitting in a warehouse. Unfortunately, that’s just the nature of the beast, and it’s time to evolve from these methodologies.
The New Way – Supply Chain Efficiency Solutions + an Answer to Reducing Ingredient Waste in Manufacturing
Over the years, consumers have become so much more accustomed to making purchases online that, today, it’s a way of life. Within the industry, there has always been talk about building an online market experience for years, but no one has worked on a system or taken the time to invest in a solution until now. Here at Infield Market, we’ve invested, and we’ve launched that solution. We are working hard to improve supply chain efficiency and to help solve for ingredient waste in manufacturing, so to help describe this new way there is no better model to look at than the Infield Market Model.
The Open Forum
The vision for Infield was to cultivate a new dynamic between companies building a shared business culture and working to bridge the trust gap, and in the process, get the excess raw materials visible and available. Think of Infield Market like an Airbnb for excess product. It’s an open forum platform that shows you on a map and in a marketplace-type set up what’s out there and what’s available in real time. Simply put, a company with a leftover ingredient can log on to the platform and list what it has to sell and how much of it is on hand and can input all the ingredient specifications – including supply chain traceability information – at what price it’s available for and publish that information to the marketplace right away. Our marketplace has been a proven success in expanding these opportunities; for example, we have listed over 300+ tons of products, and on top of that, we have moved 65 tons of excess materials. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but in a world where global annual food waste is $38 billion, any forward progress is a step in the right direction.
iM Direct Sales & Marketing
Another part to our platform, and perhaps the more immediately impactful piece, is the iM Direct Sales & Marketing program. iM Direct’s unique platform brings customers closer to the manufacturers offering regularly stocked ingredients and raw materials. Our very first partner started with us in March 2018, and to date, we have booked $2.45 million in sales. Anyone can sell a product, but we are making that happen in a more efficient way in the form of a digital vehicle. And as a partner, we are doing it for you with a much smaller investment for manufacturers than typical distribution channels or with a sales rep.
What makes Infield even more of an interesting business model is that you have seasoned sales rep expertise – the processes, the engagement, the relationships, and the follow-ups – and one that is integrated with a marketing pull. While Infield is working as a real-time marketplace and a business-to-business sales team extension there are funnels and marketing tactics in place educating, engaging, and pulling in new prospects. In partnership with Infield Market, we offer the opportunity to use our seasoned sales and marketing expertise as an extension of your team if need be. In partnership with Infield Market, we offer help securing new and existing sales initiatives, generating new sales opportunities for your existing teams, and we work to increase the overall results for your business.
So, Bottom Line
This sounds too good to be true, right? However, it isn’t. We’ve been doing all of this here at Infield Market from day one. We have proven these strategies and methodologies to our current partners and companies who are already on board with us. Of course, engaging individuals is a bit of a long-term, slower-play type of deal (hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day,) but we’re working to educate the masses, sparking the discussions, and driving them back to us because of the raw materials and the projects going on. Our endgame is big picture and, and we’re just getting started.