The 5 Principles of Responsible Purchasing: Better Buying Launches High-Level Principles for Brands and Retailers

October 7, 2021

The Better Buying Institute is launching a set of 5 high-level principles for responsible purchasing for brands and retailers to adopt and follow. 

The 5 Principles of Responsible Purchasing have been developed on the basis of  data provided by suppliers engaged with Better Buying’s ratings platform, surveys, and Supplier Roundtables over the last six years, and are rooted in resolving the day-to-day challenges they face dealing with poor buyer practices. 

The 5 Principles focus on 5 fundamental behaviors that underpin all responsible purchasing: Visibility; Stability; Time; Financials; and Shared Responsibility. The Principles are defined as follows. 

  • Visibility: Provide enough information about your planned business for suppliers to act.
  • Stability: Give your suppliers steady and predictable business across the year.
  • Time: Provide enough time for suppliers to complete all processes in compliance to laws and relevant codes of conduct.  
  • Financials: Use fair financial practices with suppliers.
  • Shared Responsibility: Do your part to improve working conditions and environmental performance in its supply chain.

Each can be measured in detail by Better Buying’s Purchasing Practices Index or at a high level with Better Buying’s Partnership Index. 

The 5 Principles both complement, and align with the 7 categories of purchasing practices on which Better Buying already collects supplier data: Planning and Forecasting; Design and Development; Cost and Cost Negotiation; Sourcing and Order Placement; Payment and Terms; Managing the Purchasing Process; and Win-Win Sustainable Partnerships. 

Dr. Marsha Dickson, President and Co-Founder of Better Buying, comments: “The 5 Principles provide a simple, high-level framework for brands to adopt, and publicly commit to. They are aspirational, and aimed at encouraging brands and retailers who want to show leadership on purchasing practices to strive for best practice, and excellence, in each of the key areas.”

“We will be supporting our subscribers to follow and embed the 5 Principles across the whole of their purchasing practices and business operations.”

The 5 Principles have been designed to be simple, clear, and easy to commit to memory, and to provide a point of reference whenever a purchasing decision needs to be risk-checked, or sense-checked, in relation to its supplier, worker and environmental impact.  

But the detailed list of actions and behaviors brands need to have in place in order to meet each Principle also provide a comprehensive process for brands to work through, assess how they are performing, and determine what purchasing practices they need to improve on in order to be a “True Partner”* to their suppliers. Better Buying’s new e-learning course on responsible purchasing, which is being launched next week in collaboration with ILO Better Work, guides participants through this process, and considers how poor purchasing decisions can combine, and compound to create multiple stressors for suppliers and workers.

“The 5 Principles are a framework that any responsible business can access, and begin to run with, whatever stage they have reached in their journey towards transforming their supplier relationships,” concludes Dr. Dickson.

*True Partner is the highest performing category in the Better Buying Partnership Index.

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