ThomasNet recently launched it’s free Purchasing Tools, based on SourceOne‘s free WhyAbe platform. This platform allows buyers who still haven’t adopted an e-Sourcing platform to test the waters with a basic RFx and Auction service.
The platform, which comes with a complete Buyer User Manual as well as a Supplier User Manual, allows buyers to create a private or private RFX, see their listings on a dashboard (where they can also identify reviewers and block blacklisted suppliers from bidding), and also take advantage of ThomasNet’s engineering, web, and community tools. The RFxs are essentially RFQs where you solicit bids for well a basket of well-defined products and services, and the reverse auction formats are limited to supplier rank and lowest bid, but that’s where most companies start on their e-Sourcing journey.
The auction tool allows you to specify whether or not you want duplicate bids, minimum decrements during bidding (as a number or percentage), and automatic extensions to prevent bid sniping. The product also supports multiple currencies, attachments, and product images as well as e-mails to invited suppliers. It’s not on par with any of the paid Software-as-a-Service offerings, but as I’ve said before, it’s cracking the sourcing mold and offering a free solution that companies new to sourcing and sourcing technology can use and experiment to find out what works for them, what doesn’t, and what they need help on. It’s a great way for a company to test the water as it provides a quick start to e-Sourcing with a price that can’t be beat. Then, when an organization has identified it’s needs, and, more importantly, identified what it can do well in house – and what it can not, it can always upgrade to a more extensive e-Sourcing platform and retain a PSP, like Source One, to help it with those categories that it doesn’t have the experience, or the leverage, to get savings on.
So, let’s give ThomasNet some applause for trying to spread the sourcing word and hope that this convinces more organizations still using e-mail and fax for RFQs to join the twenty-first century.