A Race To The Top Via Safe And Compliant Products
Can any one person successfully navigate the constantly evolving state and federal product safety and compliance regulations for your organization? As soon as you get a handle on today's regulations, they shift. And every time you add a new product category, the process starts all over again. If you need to find the person in your organization who is responsible for compliance, he or she is probably up on the roof... drinking.
As complicated as the compliance topic can become, I believe there is a silver lining for those who can overcome the challenges and adapt. Not only does creating a comprehensive proactive compliance program differentiate those companies, but the complexity of doing so has also triggered new collaborations and opportunities for companies to partner and share their learnings and best practices. Simply put, better compliance solutions are developed in partnership rather than in silos. And this new level of collaboration could be the start of a "Race to the Top" where companies can sell the value proposition of safe and complaint promotional products.
More and more companies are working together to solve our collective safe and compliant product challenges, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are distributors working with other distributors to ensure standardized expectations are communicated to their suppliers. Additionally, suppliers working with other suppliers to communicate consistent expectations to factories and raw material sources. And perhaps most encouraging, distributors are bringing their most trusted supplier partners into meetings with their end-buyers. This new level of collaboration allows these companies to better demonstrate their value proposition and the strength of their supply chain relationships.
This heightened focus on the value proposition of promotional products is good news. We must reverse the trend toward low-cost, low-service and potentially high-risk, overly commoditized promotional products. Factory direct sourcing has never been more available for those end-buyers that are choosing to go this route. Good luck competing on cost alone against online sourcing tools such as Alibaba. You are not going to win the race to the bottom, but you can win the race to the top—a race that is about selling the value proposition of safe and compliant products. The old adage "let the buyer beware" (Caveat Emptor) has never been more true. You do get what you pay for, and the risk has never been greater.
Collaborating to meet end-buyer customer needs is simply good business. End-buyers get better and safer product solutions, suppliers and distributors develop stronger relationships by growing trust, and these efforts are moving the gauge. Not every end-buyer cares, but those who do have big marketing dollars to spend and even more value in brand equity that must be protected.
I believe this new level of partnership is going to spill over into many other aspects of doing business together and fuel a race to the top that allows companies to focus on the value proposition of promotional products rather than a race to the bottom where we see continued commoditization, low-value low-cost product offerings.
On your mark, get set, GO! The Race to the Top has begun.
Brent Stone is executive director - operations for Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), the promotional products industry's only independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping companies provide safe products. A Six Sigma Black Belt, Stone has more than 25 years of in-depth supply chain management experience with extensive expertise in process design, development, improvement and management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.qcalliance.org for more information.