'You can buy anything, at a price'

Rebecca Ellinor Tyler is former editor of Supply Management
9 December 2014

Rebecca EllinorSo says Andrew Swift, head of global procurement at Affinion International when asked how he would go about sourcing ‘12 drummers drumming’ for this issue’s cover feature.

He’s no stranger to purchasing unusual items and services, having been global sourcing director at WhiteConcierge in the past, and was one of a number of experts we asked to give answers to six challenges procurement professionals experience. 

While buyers aren’t typically required to ‘purchase’ percussionists, they have to consider where to begin when sourcing something unusual and tease out the details to satisfy expectations.

Other questions examine how to meet tight timescales, deal with ethical dilemmas and negotiate the best arrangement when experiencing high demand.

Our experts advise to get the best value you need to start planning early, have a full and clear brief and be open and creative.

The importance of being prepared cannot be underestimated, as a number of UK retailers realised last month when they saw astonishing levels of demand on ‘Black Friday’ – the day following Thanksgiving. This has been regarded as the first real day of Christmas shopping in the US for more than a decade and is now taking off in other parts of the world.

In the UK, retailers including Asda, Currys PC World, John Lewis, Tesco and others saw increased footfall in their stores and huge demand online. For some retailers the spike in online trading caused temporary problems with their websites. And police were called to some stores as shoppers fought over goods.

Billionaire Warren Buffett, who apparently also appreciates a bargain, is often quoted as saying “price is what you pay, value is what you get”. For me, there’s value in not becoming infuriated with a website as you try to buy gifts in the middle of the night or having to wrestle your way to the discount shelves. So find out where you can provide value for your stakeholders and have a happy Christmas.

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