Assessing Purchasing Practices: an overview of approaches and tools

This kind of mapping and analysis work can be useful for offering more guidance and clarity to companies looking to improve their purchasing practices.

But this report does a disservice to the industry by not highlighting the full array of tools and services available. Such omissions can be misleading for companies who review this report and think that the tools it examines are all that is available for measuring progress on purchasing practices. 

In fact, many of the shortcomings the report identifies are already being tackled via Better Buying’s work, and have been in place for a number of years. The challenge we need to embrace together, as an industry, is pointing companies in the direction of the full range of options available, and being rigorous in asking companies to use the tools, so they can’t continue to hide behind claims that it’s all too difficult and the tools just aren’t there. 

FairWear’s Brand Performance Check Guide is a valuable tool, but it isn’t the only concise approach with a scoring mechanism on responsible purchasing. Better Buying’s supplier surveys provide subscriber companies with individualized scores and company reports, enabling them to measure progress year over year on the holistic set of purchasing practices that matter to suppliers and impact their abilities to provide better wages and working conditions. Better BuyingTM tools incorporate highly specific progress indicators, providing detailed, actionable insights to our brand and retailer subscribers that they have been using to drive improvements since 2018. 

ACT’s self-assessments are indeed designed to provide a periodical survey of their members’ purchasing practices, every two years, but the implication that there is no tool that offers companies wanting to continuously improve, rather than check in periodically, is untrue. Better Buying’s two surveys, which run in both the Spring, and the Fall, each year, enable our subscriber companies to check in with their suppliers regularly, while the scorecards and company reports they receive when they participate in our ratings cycles guide them in partnering with their suppliers day in, day out, as true business equals.

Our common goal, as an industry, must be coming together to accelerate change. The slow and uneven progress we are seeing in terms of purchasing practices, highlighted by both our recent Better Buying Purchasing Practices IndexTM report, and the Know The Chain benchmark, where brands’ efforts on purchasing practices scored second lowest (with over half of companies scoring zero), highlight that urgency. Let’s get to work on that real problem.