The internet has brought many benefits to the material handling industry, along with many challenges. The reverse online auction bidding process is one of those challenges. This bidding process became common some years ago when a company named Free Markets offered the reverse auction process for a number of organizations buying commodity items that had few differences and required little or no support.
Unfortunately, for many of us, the reverse online auction became a buying process that spread to a number of products that included batteries, chargers and lift trucks. In many cases, it was placed in the hands of online bid administrators and company purchasing people eager to use the latest technology, sometimes without complete appreciation for its disadvantages. It became a process that has positioned many companies that offer a variety of different value-added benefits into a single equal status.
This process has grown in popularity over the past few years. Reverse auctions have become easier to conduct, so outside organizations are not required to manage these events for the acquiring companies. The companies now conduct their own online bidding, saving them additional costs in this acquisition process.
The disadvantage in all of this is the lack of understanding by the acquiring company of each of the potential supplying company’s benefits, including product line, accessories, service and company reputations. All these offerings and advantages are lost on a customer to whom you are one of five bidders who can only communicate with a dollar amount on a computer screen. There is no room to inform the customer about what you can do to meet their needs or solve their problems.
Hopefully, this technology brought to us by the internet is a phase that will soon live out its life. As operations people at companies find that the quick savings brought to them from their purchasing groups during these more difficult economic times are not meeting their daily needs, the usefulness of the online bid as we know it today will diminish.
A major retail grocer has recently elected to discontinue its use of online bidding to acquire batteries and chargers as their initial experience did not bring them the overall savings they needed when considering the costs to use the selected online supplier in their operations.
Are companies really ready for an electronic gamble when selecting their long-term partner for lift truck power?
|Meet the Author
Jeff Long is vice president of sales & service for EnerSys Motive Power Americas headquartered in Reading, Pennsylvania.