Daily Archives: August 28, 2023

Serex Procurement: Easy e-Auctions for the Small Enterprise and Lower Mid-Market

Serex Procurement is a point-based solution with one purpose: to replace the spreadsheet that most e-Procurement departments in smaller companies still use to manage their procurement (as well as eliminate the thousands of emails needed to collect prices and update that spreadsheet).

You might ask why, with so many auction-centric mini-suites available on the market, and over 70 e-Sourcing solutions available, we would focus on a niche solution centred around e-Auctions, request-for-price, and centralized buyer-supplier communications. The answer is simple — not every Procurement department is supporting a large enterprise and not every Procurement department needs advanced functionality, a mini-suite, or a pricey solution with bells and whistles they aren’t going to (be ready to) use at the current state of their Procurement evolution.

It may be 2023, but there are a still a large number of Procurement departments still running Procurement events from a spreadsheet, still stuck with an archaic ERP, and, especially in the small enterprise / mid-market, still burdened with a very limited budget for Sourcing and Procurement software. Furthermore, for these departments, this single step up is sometimes everything they need from an e-Sourcing perspective at the current step of their e-Procurement journey which gives them incredible value today. (And, as per our stance that what Procurement needs is a platform that allows them to add one module at a time on their digitization journey, it’s the puzzle piece they need right now.) Also, there are organizations that bought into super suites that have an end-to-end Source-to-Pay process but no auctions, an archaic process that doesn’t support quick and easy auctions, or a user-based licensing model that prevents roll-out to the entire organization. For these organizations, a point-based auction solution with an API that supports data pull and award push through the API (or fixed-format spreadsheets where the current solutions don’t support a modern API) is exactly what they need.

Plus, the blended pricing model Serex Procurement offers makes it very affordable for companies with no budget to start on a gain share and, once the value is proven, move to a fixed price model with no gain share. More specifically, an organization can sign up for as little as $300/month by giving up 50% of their savings, or get unlimited events with 0% gain-share for $5,000/month. (Or pick a tier somewhere in between — Sourcing Innovation recommends doing the math based on the conservative end of the estimated savings on the events you will be running and picking the tier appropriately.) Furthermore, while there is a minimum contract term, an organization can upgrade their tier at any time during the contract term (once they are confident they’ll save more by upping the tier.)

The fully SaaS e-Auction solution has all of the core capability you’d expect from a modern SaaS e-Auction platform, and then some. One of the key differentiators is that the platform is SKU-based and supports the definition of SKU groups in a manner that makes it just as easy to source a direct Bill of Materials as it is to source an indirect lot of office supplies. Not many sourcing/auction platforms make it easy to do both, but Serex Procurement does.

In addition to product groups, the platform also allows the definition of bidder groups which allows an organization to group suppliers that it typically invites for a certain category (indirect) or Bill of Materials (direct). Combine this with the fact that an auction can be defined on a set of product groups and bidder groups, and this makes it extremely quick to define a new auction from scratch, and even quicker to define a new auction as a copy of a historical auction, as this only requires changing the start and end dates and times to make the copy. (Once the copy is made, a buyer can edit whatever they wish.)

As we indicated above, the auction platform supports the standard parameters you would expect, including:

  • start and end time
  • auto-extension of y minutes with a bid in the last x minutes
  • show/hide bidder position
    by setting to “hide”, the platform can be used as a simple request for price
  • tie bids accepted/rejected
  • bid increment
  • max bidder position
  • bid validation window
  • landing factors (% of savings required to leave an incumbent to acknowledge switching costs;
    basically it is a penalty factor on new suppliers)
  • shipping factor (to acknowledge additional transportation costs / currency exchange costs)
  • product yields (to account for variable wastage due to packaging/sizing)

It also supports new bidder definition, new product definition, import from spreadsheet or API for bidder or product definition, and Excel-based bidding for suppliers. Product sheets can be uploaded and attached with as little or as much information as needed, and in-platform messaging allows for easy direct or group-based communication between the buyer and suppliers.

The platform allows the buyer to setup as many email / message templates as they like, to make supplier communications quick and easy as events are created / modified. It’s also very easy to search products, bidders, and past events (to find the perfect instance of the event to copy for quick setup).

When you think about its intended market, about the only thing missing is better quick-hit RFP functionality, as the way you do it now is to set up a private price-based auction. Since they already have document management, bid sheet support, supplier and messaging support, and history management, it would be quite simple to add easy three-bids-and-a-buy RFPs where suppliers can get requests, upload their own options to fulfill a request as well as corresponding prices (at different volume breaks), and provide more detailed information and the buyer can then select one or more to either direct award to or invite to an auction with pre-certified options. Serex has acknowledged that this would be useful, and is in their queue for future development, but they are very customer driven and the queue gets prioritized based upon what current customers are asking for. However, should multiple customers converge on this, it would not take them very long to build it as they have three decades of software development and implementation experience (with the first 20 years in CRM system selection, implementation, and custom integration add/on development — an area their other division are still leading experts in).

If you are in the market niche, we strongly encourage you to check Serex Procurement out as you can get a great, unlimited use, e-Auction solution for a few thousand a month (plus modest gain share, or unlimited use platform for only 5K/month) without the need to bite off more than you can chew solution capability (and cost) wise.