Product Sourcing

Although product sourcing can be cumbersome for logisticians, Loc8's Stewart Arbuckle believes the Product Sourcing Guide 2006 will simplify the process.

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By  Robeel Haq Published  October 15, 2006

|~|loc8.jpg|~|Stewart Arbuckle, managing director of LOC8|~|Product sourcing can be cumbersome for logisticians, especially with increasing workloads and responsibilities. Stewart Arbuckle, managing director of LOC8, believes the company’s Product Sourcing Guide 2006 will simplify the process by making everything available from one location.

What is the Product Sourcing Guide 2006?
This is a product sourcing catalogue based on extensive research about the purchasing habits of various companies. I have worked in the Middle East logistics industry for 15 years and I know the difficulties involved in sourcing certain products, especially with the growing workloads faced by logistics managers. As a result, we employed market researchers to conduct face-to-face interviews and determine how companies would like to source products. This catalogue aims to simplify the entire purchasing process.

Is the catalogue only available in print format?
Customers can actually choose between three different formats. In addition to the print format, which features 650 pages, the catalogue is available online. This is beneficial because we can instantly change the product details whenever necessary. There’s also a CD version, which is very popular because people like the option of flicking through the catalogue on their
computers. All three versions are free to use.

What is the target market for the catalogue?
There are various different sections, such as flooring, office furniture, safety equipment and traffic management. One of the biggest sections of the catalogue is dedicated to material handling products, featuring everything from forklifts to automated warehouse solutions. Whilst these products obviously appeal to the logistics industry, many of them also have crossover appeal. The manufacturing industry or government departments, for example, regularly purchase shelving and cargo trucks. We also feature products aimed at the healthcare and hotel sectors.

What geographical area does the catalogue cover?
At the moment, we are covering Dubai and the Northern Emirates. There is some crossover into the Southern Emirates too, such as Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, but we initially wanted to focus on a specific area, which is easily manageable. However, the company has matured over the past two years and the market’s acceptance of the catalogue is great, from both customers and advertisers. Therefore, we are now ready to reach other markets and take the catalogue to another level.

What is the order process for Middle East customers using the catalogue?
We’ve tried to make the order process as simple as possible. The customer picks a product, or products, and contacts the call centre. The operator uses special technology, which recognises the telephone number and displays the caller’s details on the computer screen, so we can quickly recognise the company. The customer provides details of the order to the operator, who is fully trained and has a good understanding of everything featured in the catalogue. Next, the operator will process the order and submit everything online. Finally, an email is sent to each product supplier with details of the order, whilst the customer receives a confirmation email too. This way, everybody is kept in the loop.

So you connect companies to clients?
Yes, we act as a kind of marriage agency. We do not complete the deal ourselves, but pass the details of the customer to our clients.

What mistakes have customers typically experienced with other methods of purchasing?
During the market research, a large number of respondents expressed frustration about poor telephone service when ordering products. Sometimes the operator spoke English badly, sometimes they weren’t properly trained or knowledgeable about the products being sold, and sometimes they were badly mannered. These are factors we worked hard to avoid.

What reaction have you received since the catalogue was published?
Well, we published the catalogue around May this year, and the reaction is very positive, from both customers and advertisers. Lots of companies have started using the catalogue and advertisers have started booking space for the updated version next year. It’s a very encouraging start.

Are similar catalogues available in the market?
There is zero presence of anything like this in the Middle East. It is a great concept for businesses and I see no reason why this cannot be a huge success in the region, with perhaps more companies duplicating what we are doing. ||**||

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