FAQ'S

For more information, contact us via email at info@betterbuying.org.

 

What is the mission of Better Buying?

Better Buying is a global initiative that provides retailers, brands, and suppliers with a cloud-based platform to obtain data driven insights into purchasing-related activities. Better Buying’s transparency promotes sustainable partnerships, mutually beneficial financial results, and additional outcomes.

What are purchasing practices?

Purchasing practices are the steps brands and retailers (buyers) take to create products and bring them to market. They include activities related to: planning and forecasting, design and development, cost and cost negotiation, sourcing and order placement, payment and terms, management of the purchasing process, and win-win sustainability partnerships (formerly CSR harmonization). Purchasing practices can have a direct impact on the financial, environmental, and social sustainability performance of suppliers. They can affect their ability to pay wages and benefits required by law and buyers' codes of conduct. Poor purchasing practices can lead to excessive overtime hours, unauthorized subcontracting to unsafe facilities with poor working conditions, and an increase in the use of temporary labor, making employment more precarious. Poor purchasing practices can also imperil suppliers’ financial situation.

What is a ratings cycle, and how frequent are they?

While a supplier may rate their buyers at any time, Better Buying aggregates ratings received for each buyer every six months. In order to provide insight into changes in purchasing practices, suppliers are asked to rate their buyers twice each year (Q2 and Q4). A supplier may not rate any single buyer more than once in each three-month period.

Why should suppliers rate their customers, the retailers and brands?

According to an independent external evaluation of the Better Buying system, Better Buying is the most effective tool for communicating problems with purchasing practices. Our rating platform helps buyers understand how their purchasing practices impact suppliers, while suppliers, in turn, can use the ratings to determine potential future customers to work with and to leverage more favorable contracts with existing customers that support improved factory working conditions.

What are the benefits to suppliers of engaging with Better Buying?

Suppliers, and the factories they own or contract are direct beneficiaries of Better Buying. Suppliers who submit ratings receive scorecards for the buying companies they rate, which help them make more informed decisions about potential business partners, and how best to allocate resources to best serve their existing customers. As a supplier, improved retailer and buyer purchasing practices can benefit you by:

  • Helping you to meet your social and environment goals while still earning reasonable profits
  • Improving your workforce and facility utilization (via mutually beneficial costing)
  • Improving your workforce stability (via more predictable and consistent workflow)
  • Reducing unexpected finance charges in the procurement and settlement process 
  • Improving product quality products (as buyers better understand the supply-demand cycle)

What happens with the data suppliers submit?

Retailers or brands are rated on seven separate categories of purchasing practices that have been previously identified as critical to suppliers. Retailers or brands who receive five or more ratings during each cycle are given an overall score grading their purchasing practice performance; these ratings are given to the retailer or brand.

What kind of company information will suppliers need to provide?

Suppliers begin by registering on the Better Buying rating platform by providing some basic information about their company. Once suppliers begin rating, they can expect to be asked questions like the timing of forecast and order placements, variance between orders reserved and actual orders booked, percent of tech packs delivered accurately and on time, and percent of the time and action calendar deadlines that were met. Prior to completing a rating, it may be useful to gather information from different departments within the supplier company.

How is supplier anonymity and data protected? And how secure is the platform?

The rating a specific supplier gives to a buyer is only visible to the supplier submitting the rating and select Better Buying staff. Raw data is never released and multiple supplier ratings are averaged so that buyers cannot identify which specific suppliers rated them. Only buyers who have five or more ratings will receive a Better Buying rating and related reports that draw on aggregated data. The few staff members with access to the Better Buying website and rating platform have signed confidentiality agreements that prevent sharing supplier data. Extensive precautions are taken to protect sensitive data on the Better Buying TM platform. Better Buying TM servers are managed by the Fair Factories Clearinghouse and hosted in a SunGard SSAE16 data center which are managed 24/7 and configured for high availability and maximum redundancy using a combination of RAID1 and RAID5 configuration. Servers are behind redundant firewalls which have very strict rules about allowing only selected connections into the servers. Servers have 24/7 threat monitoring which allows us to be notified and respond to a threat before it affects our servers. As a result, the ratings platform and the data contained in it are highly secure. More detailed information about our Better Buying TM Privacy and Data Protection Policy are provided to suppliers when they register on the Better Buying TM platform.

Is there a fee for use of the Better Buying rating platform? And how is Better Buying funded?

There is no fee for suppliers to rate their buyer companies on the Better Buying TM ratings platform. Better Buying TM is funded through grants, donations, and corporate sponsorship from brand and retailer subscribers who invite their suppliers to submit ratings. In addition to contributing data and funding to support Better Buying’s overall mission, these subscribers receive Better Buying TM Company Reports and have access to other opportunities to deepen their knowledge about how to improve purchasing practices. For more information, contact us at info@betterbuying.org.

Do suppliers rate only one of their retailer or brand customers? Or all of them?

Suppliers may wish to begin with rating their largest retailer or brand customer. However, suppliers are strongly urged to rate all their retailer or brand customers. The more information that is submitted, the better retailers and brands will be able to respond to suppliers’ needs.

Are ratings made public?

All ratings for a retailer or brand are aggregated into a scorecard, which is made available directly to the retailer or brand and to suppliers that submitted ratings that were used in the scorecard.  Retailers and brands that receive scorecards are encouraged to share those with investors, civil society, and other stakeholders so that progress over time can be supported and acknowledged.

How long does it take to complete a rating?

Although actual time will vary for each buyer rated, it will likely take 30 minutes to complete all the questions for each company. To maximize efficiency, we allow up to four users per supplier company, including the supplier administrator, to access the rating site and input information.

What questions are suppliers asked?

The questions can be found here: Better Buying Questions, 2019

How do suppliers know if their buyer companies support their use of the Better Buying TM platform?

Better Buying TM was designed for suppliers to share their concerns about purchasing practices. Supplier anonymity is always protected, so suppliers need not fear their commercial relationships will be damaged as a result of use of the ratings platform. Proactive suppliers rate several and sometimes all of their buyer companies and that data is used by Better Buying TM in its various reports that support continuous improvement in purchasing practices. Buyer companies are increasingly interested in learning from suppliers about how purchasing practices could be improved to better support sustainable partnerships. Therefore, often suppliers will receive an invitation directly from buyer companies who want their suppliers to use the ratings platform. Better Buying TM will then follow up with you to support your registration and participation. Buying companies that subscribe with Better Buying TM and invite their suppliers to participate receive reports detailing their companies’ performance against the industry benchmark, suppliers’ constructive ideas for improvements, and our support as they begin the change process. Suppliers can learn more by signing up to receive regular mailings from Better Buying TM.

Will buyers know which suppliers rated them?

No. Suppliers who use Better Buying and submit ratings will never be named. Protecting the anonymity of suppliers is critical for Better Buying to obtain open and honest feedback that can effectively measure buyer behavior on important purchasing practices issues.  Suppliers can feel confident that the information they provide Better Buying will not negatively affect their commercial relationships. Suppliers tell us that supplier surveys and other means of traditional communication, such as supplier summits, are important but may not fully reflect the nature and impact of buyers’ actual purchasing practices because of the sensitive nature of commercial relationships. An independent external evaluation found Better Buying to be a more effective tool for communicating purchasing practices problems than any other mechanism currently available, including supplier forums and surveys initiated by buyers, precisely because supplier anonymity is maintained and because buyer ratings will be made public.

When will a supplier be able to learn the score that results from their rating?

Upon submitting a rating of a particular buyer, the supplier will immediately see the score generated from the data they provided.

Can departments within a supplier company to collaborate to complete a rating?

Yes, for ease of collaborating within multiple departments in your company we have added a new feature to the rating platform. A macro enabled offline Excel module that contains all survey questions can be downloaded from the online rating platform once you find/create your buyer you wish to rate. Then, the questions can be forwarded to the relevant departments in your company. Note that all responses must be entered into one copy of the spreadsheet. Once the offline Excel module is completed, it is uploaded onto the online platform and the designated Supplier Admin submits the questionnaire. For more information about this useful feature, read the “Instructions for Using Excel Offline Module” in the Documents Manager found on the Navigation menu on the left side of the rating platform.

How will retailers and brands benefit from the ratings?

If you're a brand or retailer, Better Buying ratings enable you to build win-win sustainable partnerships with your suppliers, and provide you with an independent assessment of which purchasing practices you need to focus your improvement efforts on. By monitoring your scores year-on-year, and over time, you can measure the effectiveness of your efforts, and continually improve your purchasing practices. You will also benefit from data-driven opportunities for specific enhancements to the buying process for both buyers and suppliers, such as:

  • Reduced cycle times and more accurate demand timing, via improved insights into demand drivers
  • More predictable lead-times from effective workforce and facility utilization
  • A reduction in potential costing "buffers" from finance charges in the procurement and settlement process.
  • Better product quality from suppliers, via improved insight into the supply-demand cycle.
  • Improved social and environmental performance through improved purchasing practices
  • Better able to demonstrate accountability to your investors and other stakeholders

How can civil society organizations and investors benefit from Better Buying ratings?

Civil society organizations have long understood the relationship between buyer practices and working conditions. Those organizations, and other interested groups, can now use Better Buying ratings to measure buyers’ adherence to good practices. Investors in companies that operate in supply chains often analyze the risks of poor purchasing practices. Civil society organizations and investors alike can use the aggregated scores as an opportunity to engage with stakeholders about ways to improve buyer purchasing practices.

How does Better Buying distinguish between suppliers and factories?

Better Buying provides the opportunity for suppliers - as opposed to individual factories - to rate their buyers because information pertaining to purchasing practices is most often held in the corporate supplier office that has direct contact with the buyer, and not at the factory level. A supplier, therefore, is defined as a parent company that owns one or more facilities, or places orders in independently owned and operated factories on behalf of their clients, the brands and retailers. It is understood that a factory may also be a supplier if it has direct contact with the buyer’s product creation teams and no other corporate office intervenes in the factory-buyer relationship. Manufacturers may also rate customers that are not brands and retailers, for example, when they receive orders from third parties such as importers or agents.

Will the rating platform be in multiple languages?

The rating site is available in English, Mandarin, Korean, and Bengali. Additional languages will be offered in the future.

How do suppliers get help if they have questions about the ratings site and how to rate?

Tips for completing ratings are found throughout the rating site. Tech support can be reached through the Contact Support feature; most inquiries will be answered within two US business days.

How do suppliers know if their retailer and brand customers support their use of the Better Buying platform?

Better Buying has been designed for the primary benefit of suppliers: no retailer or brand support is needed. Supplier anonymity is always protected so suppliers need not fear their commercial relationships will be damaged as a result of use of the ratings platform. However, it is possible that suppliers will receive an invitation from a retailer or brand to use the rating platform, indicating the retailer's or brand’s interest in benefiting from the information provided by their suppliers. The true test of retailer or brand support is whether scores that need improving are improving over time, indicating a concerted effort on the part of the retailer or brand to address critical issues. Please contact info@betterbuying.org if you have any questions.

How is the information submitted by suppliers verified?

When supplier register on the Better Buying platform before they begin rating, suppliers are required to upload proof that establishes an authentic relationship with the buyer they are requesting to rate. That information is reviewed by qualified Better Buying staff. If further information or clarification is needed, Better Buying will contact the supplier through the secure Better Buying platform. Better Buying reserves the right to request clarification regarding all data provided by suppliers when registering or rating buyers.