Supply Chain Stories

Learning to Listen

November 8, 2021

When you’re a company founded on the principles of being nice and telling the truth, you quickly discover that this is work that is never really finished. 

The work of many hands

Doing business this way requires a constant process of improvement – learning where you can be doing better and making the changes needed to get there. It takes time and it takes the concerted work of many hands. This is hard work, but the benefits of it far outweigh the effort. 

In economic terms, this is known as a virtuous cycle: “a recurring cycle of events, the result of each one being to increase the beneficial effect of the next.” This is not a process that can be entered into alone. It means taking the time to listen to the experiences of others. This is why SanMar is working with Better Buying.

Better Buying is a unique system which allows suppliers to anonymously communicate with buyers about purchasing practices. Buyers can then use this information to make improvements in how they engage their suppliers. It is a virtuous cycle which encourages constant, consistent improvements that benefit both the supplier and the buyer in the long run.

Future plans

SanMar’s partnership with Better Buying started in 2019 with our first supplier feedback scorecard. The pandemic in 2020 prevented us from taking action on all of our learnings from 2019, but we were still able to show improvement in our 2020 scorecard. We are using that data to continue to refine and improve how we work with our suppliers.

Last year, the feedback we received told us that a balanced, integrated results scorecard would be helpful for our suppliers, so we are committed to making this readily available in 2022. Acting on our Better Buying results in this way demonstrates to our partners that our commitment is more than words on a page – we are “walking the talk” of improving the ways we do business.

The open transparency of the Better Buying process is a natural fit for how SanMar does business. It helps us improve our partnerships with suppliers and enables us to lead by example, driving meaningful change in the way apparel companies work with their vendors across the industry.

We know that there is always room for improvement. Better Buying is one way we are learning to listen – really listen – and to make continuous improvements that benefit everyone. 

If you’d like to learn more about the Better Buying process and SanMar’s experience with it, watch our short video or read our 2021 score card.

Better Buying
2020
CR Report