New Ratings Platform Set To Transform Purchasing Practices Of Brands And Retailers Throughout The Global Garment Industry

November 17, 2017


Better Buying is a new initiative to turn the garment manufacturing industry on its head with a rating system that allows suppliers to anonymously evaluate the brands and retailers that buy their products. Intent on sparking a ‘race to the top’ among buyers to improve the way they negotiate and honor contracts with suppliers, Better Buying’s rating website is now open and collecting data from suppliers.

Better Buying is a completely unique system for suppliers to communicate with their buyers (e.g., brands and retailers) about purchasing practices that are working well and those that need improvement, without risking their business relationship. The Better Buying system gives suppliers the ability to anonymously rate their customers on seven aspects of purchasing practices – planning and forecasting, design and development, cost and cost negotiations, sourcing and order placement, payment and terms, management of the purchasing process, and CSR harmonization.

Our goal is to support the industry-wide transformation of buyer purchasing practices so that both buyers and suppliers achieve their financial, environmental, and social sustainability goals, including decent conditions of work, said Dr. Marsha Dickson, co-founder of Better Buying.

Better Buying has captured the interest of the global supplier community for its potential broad impacts on business operations of all supply chain partners. Delman Lee, president and chief technology officer of TAL Apparel, notes that “Better Buying is a bold initiative to cultivate a positive dialogue between buyers and suppliers. Supplier practices are intimately linked to buying practices and behaviors. The dialogue will only help to create financially sound supply chains that can meet quality, environmental and workplace standards.

Stanley Szeto, chairman of Hong Kong Textile Council, adds that “Better Buying will support buyers and suppliers who are eager to increase operational efficiency, protect their reputations and profits, avoid lost sales, and maintain stable supply chains with the capacity to meet all buyer requirements.”

Marsha Dickson, Ph.D. and Doug Cahn are the co-founders of Better Buying. After extensively researching critical buying practices in Hong Kong, China, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam, Dickson and Cahn have identified the top purchasing practices that have the greatest impact on workplace standards for workers.

“Suppliers are increasingly concerned about the purchasing practices of their customers, the brands and retailers,” said Cahn. “It can become untenable for suppliers and their sources to maintain profitability and protect working conditions when facing large and unpredictable orders with tight timelines at the lowest possible cost.”

The ratings are a safe space for suppliers to anonymously share their praise and constructive feedback to buyers on seven key aspects of their purchasing practices, said Szeto. This will help buyers pinpoint areas of good practice and improvements that would support better workplace conditions, but also better business as a whole.

Suppliers see the score their submission generates as soon as they submit a rating. After the analysis is completed and scores averaging all ratings have been developed, Better Buying will share those with the suppliers who rated specific buyers. Szeto anticipates that suppliers will use Better Buying ratings to identify and support the best buyers, assess potential customers, and better communicate with existing customers.

In early 2018, Better Buying will publish an industry-wide report of findings. Scores of individual buyers will be released in the third quarter of 2018 after a second rating cycle is complete, and the process will be repeated every six months to reflect updated evaluations by suppliers and the improvements buyers have made in their purchasing practices. Reports for buyers and stakeholders will contain detailed analysis which can be used to accelerate industry-wide improvements.
Better Buying is a system for suppliers to communicate with their buyers (e.g., brands and retailers) about purchasing practices that are working well and those that need improvement, without risking their business relationship.

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