What Logistics Sourcing Leaders Do Differently

Glenn Gardner

August 26, 2022

Businesses with supply chains must take rapid action backed by data-driven insights to fuel their operations in the face of variable demand and shocks or deal with the potential catastrophe. 

Logistics sourcing leaders are actively seeking out sourcing technology solutions that enable them to shift away from traditional cycle-based sourcing to dynamic market sourcing to address their current needs and achieve business goals in this new normal. This shift allows for true transformation to occur by reacting fast, learning from earlier efforts, and exceeding business goals.

Sourcing Strategies For Volatile Times

Across the board, three distinctive strategies have emerged to source logistics during these volatile times:

-Reactive Sourcing: Here, the sourcing team responds using traditional processes from stable (Pre-COVID) markets. Annual events leverage technology, but off-cycle events to manage new lanes are typically manual with Excel and Emails. Usually, this approach focuses on lower capacity risks at higher costs.

-Responsive Sourcing: The team sources high-impact lanes and fills required gaps while adjusting to the new norm. Annual and off-cycle events leverage technology when possible. The process is tactical, but it is slow and difficult to maintain at the market’s pace.

-Resourceful Sourcing: The team switched from traditional to dynamic market sourcing to adjust to the conditions. Annual and off-cycle events are all part of a single-threaded collaborative sourcing process, and events are low effort, highly repeatable, standardized, and normalized. The refresh cycle frequency is adjusted to stay current with market changes or expiring rates, allowing for competitive market rates and robust capacity options.

Those following a dynamic market sourcing strategy are outperforming other shippers to get better rates and capacity with carriers. For those striving for true procurement excellence, some distinctive features appear less in the processes of the ‘laggards’ – who focus on more reactive sourcing – when compared with the ‘leaders’ who have adopted more resourceful sourcing strategies:

Let’s look at some features of procurement leaders' strategies in more detail:

1. The Agility to Respond Quickly and Easily

“A transportation market disruption occurs, and my team can adjust their sourcing process”

Without a doubt, businesses need to be more agile and adaptable in order to thrive. But yesterday’s agile is not the same as today’s agile; shippers can be agile and work fast but is that enough to handle the challenges in a volatile marketplace?

Leading procurement teams can sense and respond proactively to any disruption because they have a complete view of their supply chain. They can easily oversee their organization’s strategy right down to the execution of their sourcing processes with fewer human resources all thanks to their ability to run scenarios using intelligent technology.

As a result, these companies are far better positioned to respond quickly and easily to whatever is happening in the supply chain.

2. The Resilience to Handle Challenges

“My sourcing team can respond to an industry emergency or short-term requirement with skills to source faster than other shippers.”

While you might never know what’s going to be on the horizon, it’s vital to be prepared to operate as a business through challenging events. In today’s market, we often only think about rising costs, but sourcing teams need to be able to react just as fast when costs go down or when networks are largely disrupted.

Leaders ensure they have enough resilience for business continuity by digitizing their transport sourcing operations. Having a clear picture of their ecosystems and the right sourcing software in place allows them not to be overly dependent on too few suppliers when challenges arise.

3. Flexibility Given the Fluidity of the Situation

“My processes are flexible enough to support normal and disruptive sourcing criteria. I can easily source within and across my carriers, as well as new suppliers.”

When supply chains get disrupted, sourcing teams may need to collect new bids quickly to keep things running. In order to stay competitive, they need to look at mini-bids taking place ad-hoc, bi-monthly, or even quarterly - but spot buys come with their own set of challenges.

Leaders are running these events with technology, while the laggards are doing it manually with emails and spreadsheets. With the right procurement optimization tool in tow, leading sourcing teams can gain a competitive advantage, particularly in large-scale events that require greater flexibility in feedback and scenarios at different iterations of the negotiation process.

With annual negotiated rates no longer being honored, and unexpected disruptions becoming the norm, innovative sourcing leaders are turning to software solutions that enable them to easily develop a standardized, repeatable sourcing process with shorter bid cycles that take days – not months – to complete.

4. An Understanding of Exposure to Risk & Mitigating It Where Possible

“My team can understand options and their associated risks. It also allows me to make data-driven decisions to manage my risk.”

With transport costs shooting up and down with high volatility, shippers must be able to avoid surprises and accurately explain potential risks to C-Suite. The leaders are the ones that have the right technology in place that allows them to look at the trends so that they can figure out where the risk is before it happens, and pivot accordingly.

These CPOs need to know ahead of time where the risks are, and they tend to be very proactive on ‘what if’ scenarios such as:

-What if I lose capacity due to another Suez Canal incident or the Russia/Ukraine war?

-What if some of my vendors are ignoring messages, raising the rates or cutting capacity?

There’s too much at stake to have a single sourcing strategy for critical supplies. With the right technology in place, leading transport sourcing teams are easily awarding multiple suppliers while also looking beyond lowest price bids to collect and analyze additional considerations such as reliability, sustainability and delivery time.


Shippers need to keep pace with the pace of changing business conditions, and those businesses that react first and execute quickly are most likely to be the leaders who get the highest share of capacity at more reasonable rates. But because they are so focused on reactionary measures, many are missing one of the most effective ways to save money and increase capacity.

Implementing a modern technology solution can help them switch from cycle-based to market-based sourcing, and will free up their time, elevate their quality of work, and improve their bottom line.The good news is that optimization and intelligent automation sourcing solutions offered by Keelvar has the power to deliver these results.

Talk with our team if you want to learn more about making Keelvar's solutions work for you.

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