FAQ'S

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

 

What is the mission of Better Buying?

The mission of Better Buying is to support industry-wide transformation between buyers (brands and retailers) and suppliers so that business relationships support buyers and suppliers in achieving their financial, environmental, and social sustainability goals. To do this, buyers must adopt good purchasing practices. Better Buying is able to provide clear, relevant, transparent and timely information and analysis about the performance of buyers’ purchasing practices, including those that need improving. Better Buying seeks to spur a “race to the top” among buying companies eager to protect their reputations and profits, and improve conditions for workers.

What are purchasing practices?

Purchasing practices are the steps brands and retailers (buyers) take to create products and bring them to market. These practices 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 CSR harmonization. Purchasing practices can have a direct impact on the financial, environmental, and social sustainability performance of suppliers. They can affect the ability of suppliers to pay wages and benefits required by law and buyers' codes of conduct. Poor purchasing practices can also 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.

Why should suppliers rate their buyers?

Through anonymous ratings, suppliers are able to provide feedback on buyers’ purchasing practices. 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. 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.

How will buyers benefit from the ratings?

Better Buying ratings help buyers identify which purchasing practices matter most to suppliers so that buyers can work to improve their own processes by identifying internal problems that impede positive relationships with their suppliers. Monitoring Better Buying scores over periods of time will also allow buyers to measure the effectiveness of their efforts to improve and eventually contribute a mutually beneficial relationship between suppliers and buyers.

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 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.

What questions are suppliers asked?

The questions can be found here: Better Buying Questions, Q2 2018

What kind of information is required by Better Buying to complete a rating?

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.

Is there a way for 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 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 supplier administrator, to access the rating site and input information.

What happens with the data suppliers submit?

Buyers are rated on seven separate categories of purchasing practices that have been previously identified as critical to suppliers. Buyers 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 buyer and also made public (after two rating seasons).

What is a rating cycle?

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.

Do suppliers rate only one of their buyers? Or all of them?

Suppliers may wish to begin with rating their largest buyers. However, suppliers are strongly urged to rate all their buyers. The more information that is submitted the better buyers will be able to respond to suppliers’ needs.

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.

When are ratings made public?

All ratings for a buyer are aggregated into a score, which is made available to the buyers and eventually made public after two rating cycles in which a buying company receives five or more ratings. The delay allows buyers an opportunity to understand and make a plan for improvement where it is needed before the ratings are made public. Additional public disclosures can be expected every six months. Buyers have the opportunity to comment on the Better Buying website explaining any steps taken to improve their score, or the business context that contribute to their scores.

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 buyers support their use of the Better Buying platform?

Better Buying has been designed for the primary benefit of suppliers: no buyer 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 buyers to use the rating platform, indicating the buyer’s interest in benefiting from the information provided by their suppliers. Another way suppliers may learn about buyer support is if buyers actively comment about their scores on the Better Buying website. But the true test of buyer support is whether scores that need improving are improving over time, indicating a concerted effort on the part of the buyer to address critical issues. Please contact info@betterbuying.org if you have any questions.

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 have confirmed 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. Independent external evaluation indicates that Better Buying is 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.

How is supplier anonymity protected?

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.

Is the rating platform secure?

Extensive precautions are taken to protect sensitive data on the Better Buying platform. Better Buying 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 before it affects our servers. As a result, the rating platform and the data contained in it are highly secure.

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.

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

Better Buying is currently funded through grants made possible by C & A Foundation and Humanity United. Better Buying is currently studying business models that will likely include a combination of philanthropic and fee-for-service contributions. For more information, contact us at info@betterbuying.org.