New Platform Seeks To Improve the Relationship Between Buyers and Suppliers

May 25, 2016

By Gina-Marie Cheeseman (@gmcheeseman)


We aren’t the first ones to purchase the clothes we wear. Before they reach store shelves, these items are bought by brand most of those suppliers are located in developing countries.

Millions of people in developing nations are dependent on international buyers to make a living, as a 2006 report on purchasing practices points out. Many companies have codes of conduct in place for their suppliers. However, all too often the purchasing practices of buyers ands can undermine the suppliers’ attempts to meet these codes of conduct. And that can have “disastrous consequences for the poorest producers,” the report from U.K. fair trade organization Traidcraft found.

In short: Purchasing practices can significantly impact suppliers. Enter a new project called Better Buying, which describes itself as a dialogue and rating platform to highlight areas for improved purchasing practices.

The platform was founded last year by Marsha Dickson, a professor at the University of Delaware’s Human Services program in the Department of Fashion and initially focuses on the apparel sector.

We are excited to be able to provide this new tool
which will provide information to suppliers and buyers,”

Doug Cahn, co-founder of the Better Buying project, told TriplePundit. 

The stated goal of Better Buying is to determine if it’s feasible for a Web-based public forum to improve buying processes by allowing suppliers to anonymously provide input about how specific buyers make it difficult for them to comply with codes of conduct. “The notion is that there are purchasing practices that are taken by brand retailers that make it difficult to adhere to codes of conduct,” Cahn explained.

How will the Better Buying platform work? It is still a work in progress. But the basic gist is that suppliers will register through the site and scores will also be released to the public.

Better Buying also opens up a dialogue between buyers and that feeds them,” Cahn said. “The notion of having an anonymous rating system is to allow suppliers to rate buyers.”

Why aren’t codes of conducts enough to solve the labor and apparel sectors “have not been adequately amended to enable one to make the labor rights strategies effective.”

The Clean Clothes Campaign identifies structural characteristics that undermine compliance with codes of conduct, and legal strategy, confirmed these findings in another report: Many codes of conduct violations in the apparel industry can be traced back to corporate purchasing practices, the group found, also citing unstable relationships as having a big impact on compliance.

The fact that codes of conduct in and suppliers,” he stated simply. And what Better Buying creates is a “more open dialogue despite the anonymity,” he continued. “It opens the doors to buyers to think creatively with suppliers by having open dialogue in ways that can improve conditions for workers.”

Better Buying has the exhaustive research behind itself to actually improve relationships between suppliers and workers.

The last step they took was talking to a wide variety of stakeholders to determine how the Better Buying system would work. Last week, they conducted a multi-stakeholder workshop in Geneva and score data.


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Better Buying releases questions used by suppliers to rate their buyers’ purchasing practices.

The questions for suppliers and the self-assessment for buyers contained in this document form the basis for the initial pilot test of Better Buying, an… Read More

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