#UKvUSA: Is triple bidding a waste of time?

Two continents: US and UK. Two different buying backgrounds: procurement and agency. Two alternative ways of looking at things. I’m delighted to have teamed up with Deborah Corn from PrintMediaCentr to bring two extremely different views to some important print questions. So welcom e to Print Buying: #UKvUSA where Deborah and I share information about our experiences from both sides of the pond.

At the end of this post I have linked to Deborah’s answer to the same question. We wrote our answers (each limited to 500 words) without any idea of what the other was writing. As Deborah says: “Maybe we will agree, maybe we won’t, maybe we don’t even see the question in the same way – who knows… that’s the fun part!”

Please do leave comments, thoughts and support at the bottom of this post and on Deborah’s post. It would be great if also posted your thoughts on Twitter, using the hashtag #UKvUSA Remember to watch out for our answers to another question next month.

#UKvUSA: Is triple bidding a waste of time?

Do companies measure the true cost of triple bidding?

A poor member of staff goes out to a printing company and requests a price. They take time to make a call or write an email. Then they go and do it again. And again. It must be very dull!

That member of staff could have been spending their time a lot more profitably. They could have been creating new marketing strategies. Or chasing up on late invoices. Instead, they were stuck in buying administration.

Triple bidding rarely gets a good result

Sometimes all the prices come in close together. Someone has spent a lot of time in order to save just a few dollars.

At other times, there is a big difference in pricing. That doesn’t make the triple bidding system worthwhile. It just shows that the person requesting quotes didn’t know the right type of vendor to approach.

By now, you may be getting the sense that I am not a fan of triple bidding. You would be right!

Here are three better alternatives to triple bidding

Does triple bidding really help you to reduce costs?

Does triple bidding really help you to reduce costs?

Have a contract

Find a vendor you get on well with and trust. Spend a little time creating a price list. Now both sides can focus on building a worthwhile relationship. Everyone knows where they stand.

Create a price matrix

Sometimes one vendor is not enough. A simple pricing spreadsheet can guide people to the right supplier for their needs. There is no danger that a job will end up at completely the wrong supplier.

Use an automated print buying system

There are a number of these coming onto the market now. They guide inexperienced buyers safely through the specification process. They find the right supplier for your job.

All these solutions stop people wasting time on pointless buying administration.

Doesn’t spot buying save money?

The price from a contract or matrix may not always be the absolute cheapest in the marketplace. But can you guarantee that the prices from the vendor pool that you use for triple bidding are competitive? Even if you do sometimes save money from spot buying, the savings are often outweighed by the administration costs.

Yes, triple bidding is occasionally appropriate. If you are faced with purchasing a new piece of print that you are not familiar with you will want to go out to the market. However, you should remember a little rule I have about print savings.

It is easy for many companies to save 30% on their prints costs

These savings do not come up from better bidding systems. They come from an understanding how to specify a piece of print. They come from knowing the right type of supplier to use for a certain print job.

The true savings in print buying come from educating yourself about the process. They don’t come through beating suppliers down on price via triple bidding.

How did Deborah tackle this question? See here. Look out for the next #UKvUSA battle next month!

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