The Ardent Partners analyst team recently took a briefing with Real Sourcing Network (RSN), a New York City-based provider of sourcing and procurement solutions for print marketing materials. Sarah Scudder, President, and Sanford (Sandy) Kane, CEO, joined Ardent’s Senior Research Analyst, Matthew York, for an in-depth company briefing and product demon-stration.

RSN was founded in 2011 as a niche solutions and services provider meant to address a gap in the sourcing and procurement solutions marketplace. The company focuses entirely on assisting procurement teams with competitively bidding sourcing events for print marketing projects. RSN has two primary offerings to do this – 1) software licensing and 2) a managed print service.

Sandy Kane

CEO
Real Sourcing Network
RSN

Sarah Scudder

President
Real Sourcing Network
RSN

Software Licensing

Procurement teams can license Sourceit to conduct automated, in-house sourcing events, and RSN guarantees that customers will receive at least five bids on every project. Increasing competition on these kinds of sourcing projects is critical for realizing savings and value, as there are financial and opportunity costs associated with using an existing vendor rather than re-competing the bid. As a result, Sandy said that RSN customers realize an average of 14% to 22% savings on their annual print spend. RSN can also conduct cost comparisons for prospective customers by comparing what the winning bid would be (or would have been) versus the average of the four losing bids to derive hypothetical cost savings.

Customers can also use Sourceit to track diversity, sustainability, and local spend, and help them reach compliance levels or quarterly/yearly goals. According to Sandy, Sourceit offers 30 customizable reports, enabling sourcing and procurement teams to analyze and report on internal performance as well as supplier/vendor performance. Thus, SourceIt is not only an eSourcing tool for print marketing services, it also becomes a niche spend analysis and supplier performance management tool for this spend category.

Sandy advised that a typical implementation can take about 14 business days, between initial client customization (applying the customer’s logo and creating their domain), to setting up and then training the supplier, to finally training the users.

Integration

Because Sourceit is a niche sourcing tool that addresses a spend category that few, if any, other solution providers address, it was designed to integrate with other programs and providers, like SAP Ariba, Oracle, Jaggaer, Ivalua, and others. As a result, it integrates with all cloud and ERP systems via the Open RESTful API integration; the level of integration also determines the fee structure.

From the User’s Perspective

At a high level, buyers will do one of three things in the dashboard: 1) run a report 2) conduct a sourcing event, and 3) buy something from the catalog (day-to-day item set up). Moreover, dashboards are customizable depending on a person’s job role and responsibilities. Thus, when a user logs into the tool, Sarah said, their view will depend on their unique needs. They may see all the print jobs in process, and all the jobs in production and that have been issued a PO for the work. By clicking on a particular job, the dashboard gives the user all the job’s milestones.

To conduct a new sourcing event, a user follows an eight-step process: 1) setting up their event with a list of preferred print suppliers, 2) entering item or project specifications, 3) down-selecting a subset of vendors, after which 4) the vendors receive bid requests, 5) the buyer selects the best bid for their project (based on Sourceit’s analysis), 6) the job is sent to production after the proof is approved, 7) the job is delivered, and 8) the project’s specifications, quantity, and cost savings are stored within the program for future reference.

Managed Service

RSN also offers customers a service in which the company fully manages the sourcing process. According to Sandy, RSN clients simply fill out an intake form, and then Sourceit takes it from there. It conducts a sourcing event, analyzes bids for the best value/lowest price, awards the winner, purchases the print materials, pays the supplier, and then bills client for supplier fees plus a service fee.

Sarah and Sandy hope to help companies overcome some longstanding challenges associated with managing print and marketing spend. For starters, this spend category often does not rise to the level of importance as other categories, so it can be difficult to convince stakeholders to focus on a comparatively small percentage of spend. Moreover, it can be unclear which stakeholder in a given company is driving print and marketing spend – it is frequently marketing, although sometimes it is procurement. For many organizations, transitioning print and marketing spend to procurement, centralizing spend and supplier data, adjusting buying behaviors, then centralizing what tends to be localized projects are other enduring challenges with this category.

Go-to-Market Strategy for 2020

Currently, and moving into 2020, Sarah stated that the company is focusing its marketing efforts on US and Canada-based companies with more than $1 million in annual print spend, and other companies that have large print spend, like the financial services, healthcare, insurance, real estate, and hospitality industries. They are a targeting both procurement and marketing teams, and are looking to “actively” expand outside of their customer base.

Sarah and Sandy advised that, over the course of 2019, RSN had developed a channel-partnership program that’s geared towards consulting. Accordingly, they state that they have had a lot of interest from certain companies because of RSN’s niche market focus. This allows consulting firms to bring in either Sourceit or RSN’s managed service to clients and act as force multipliers for RSN.

Final Thoughts

In 2020, RSN is not going to change or increase, geographically, although Sarah stated that they continue to add staff and are looking to double growth in the years ahead. This is an often overlooked spend category, and as RSN continues to raise awareness of the need to manage print and marketing services spend, RSN may discover additional white space within a largely overlooked market, and move to capitalize on a market segment ripe for development.