Compliance Programs Take A Village

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of distributors and their end-buyer clients to discuss at length their compliance philosophy and growing focus on compliance programs. These corporate customers made it crystal clear that compliance programs are not only a critical component but also a differentiating variable when selecting distributors to create their promotional programs. Additionally, these buyers shared their intent to consolidate the number of distributors with whom they do business down to those that can demonstrate the knowledge of and the ability to deliver safe and compliant products.

Clearly, this consolidation is not going to happen overnight. But the movement is picking up steam across a large number of Fortune 1000 companies. Much of this is driven by what seems to be a weekly national news focus on companies who are perceived to be dropping the ball on product safety or compliance issues. For example, just two weeks ago the Detroit Free Press reported “Another Shipment of Toxic Toys Turns Up in Detroit.” And back in January, The New York Times published “In China, Human Costs Are Built Into An iPad.” And these are just a few of the many headlines that have captured much media attention.

Another interesting thing happened at last week’s meetings: the conversations underlined the reliance that both Fortune 1000 customers and their distributors have on their supplier partners to actually deliver compliance. As manufacturers or importers of record, industry suppliers bear the majority of the responsibility for introducing safe and compliant products into commerce. However, distributors functioning as the industry’s sales team also have a growing role in connecting the supply of safe and compliant product with the demand coming from corporate America.

Regardless of the issue, the best solutions to complex problems have always been found through a collaborative effort. And this is true in our industry; it truly takes a village to successfully deliver product safety and compliance.

Brent Stone is the executive director - operations for the Quality Certification Alliance. He offers practical approaches for applying compliance as part of your business strategy in order to differentiate yourself in our crowded marketplace.
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