The uniqueness misconception
In our early days marketing Khareed to prospective clients, we faced an uphill task: We needed to convince the chief procurement officers at large companies that using a cloud e-procurement software developed by a small, fledgling local startup, would help them save time and money. Even when disregarding the fact that we were a relatively new firm, clients remained skeptical of the concept of outsourcing their procurement. A common refrain we would hear was, “Our industry is unique—this cannot possibly work in our sector.”
Our business development team recalls meeting the CEO of a cement firm, now a valued client of ours, who initially declined even a free trial, citing the breadth of products required by cement manufacturers as being unfeasible for procurement through an e-commerce platform. He advised them to market instead to the textile sector, suggesting that their procurement needs would likely be easier to source. “The cement sector is very different,” he explained. However, the first textile company the business development team met also showed no interest in trying out a new approach. “The parts we source are too specialized,” they said. Both companies believed their businesses and production processes to be unique and not amenable to a standardized solution. However, this was a misconception.
Today Khareed caters to manufacturing companies not only in the cement and textile sectors, but also in the sugar, dairy, paper, board, and consumer goods sectors. Some of the equipment required by these companies is indeed highly industry specific. But these companies also source millions of rupees worth of products and items common to all manufacturing companies: motors, pumps, gears, bearings, hardware and tools, sheet metal, and cables. Moreover, they source products and items that are common not just across manufacturing, but all sectors: office supplies, printing and copying machines, telecommunication equipment, and power backup equipment.
Khareed has further helped its clients break down the silos in their thinking and learn from other industries. By showing clients the common threads in production processes, Khareed has helped companies innovate and save on costs. Our clients in the board manufacturing sector are using blowers and vacuum suction equipment used by textile mills to save on material wastage. Like many manufacturing companies, schools are utilizing their roof space to produce solar power and are selling electricity back to the grid in peak summer months. Factories are using reflective epoxies to coat their shop floors to minimize lighting costs. New ideas keep coming up by observing the practices of different companies and reapplying them across industries.
We encourage companies to see what they can learn from others and how they can standardize and simplify their processes. Companies are less unique than they realize, and that’s not a bad thing.