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Supplier survey gives the thumbs up

Research findings from the BPMA’s latest mystery shopping survey into what distributors think of the service they get from suppliers, was unveiled at Merchandise World. Largely, it made for good reading, although there are some areas where suppliers could be more proactive.

Overall, the research found that distributors are satisfied with the service they receive from suppliers. Particular areas of strength include quote turnaround times and lead times, where quoted lead times are often bettered.

The BPMA surveyed distributors to compare actual service of suppliers against the ‘ideal’ service levels established in BPMA research conducted by FACTS International research. This previous research revealed that less than a quarter of suppliers felt they had an excellent relationship with their distributor.

Where the 2016 research established the levels of service that are ideal to distributors, the latest research put these standards to the test by comparing them to supplier service in practice in both the order and enquiry stage.

When it comes to reasons for choosing a supplier, distributors chose suppliers based on their industry reputation, product range and previous relationship.Suppliers often name price as the main reason for distributors choosing suppliers, but it was actually fairly low with only 9% of respondents choosing it.

Service levels were impressive, particularly for turn around times with 75% of suppliers replying within the hour and 93.4% within four hours. This was in line with expectations for the ideal turnaround time revealed in 2016 research for the BPMA. This was followed up with a detailed written quote by 73%.

BPMA research in 2016 said distributors were looking at 5-10 days as their preferred lead times, and here 50% of suppliers achieved this.

There was room for improvement in offering visualisation of product, with only 7% currently doing this. More than 50% of products were decorated in the UK.

At the order stage 35% of orders were not acknowledged for 24 hours. Based upon the FACTS International research, distributors expect to receive an order proof within eight hours of submitting orders, but only 49% managed this.

There was better news on meeting quotes lead times, where it seems suppliers under promise and over deliver. On average, suppliers exceeded their quoted lead times with 23.79% of lead times being shorter than quoted. This was particularly impressive considering 47.5% of orders were decorated outside the UK.

Overall, there was a measure of faith in the figure of 93% of distributors who said they thought that the supplier was on top of their order, and 91.8% were happy with the order.However, aspects of the supplier-distributor relationship that could be improved are order acknowledgement and PDF proof times as well as offering pre-order visuals.

Suppliers could be more proactive in offering visuals, whilst distributors can aid these processes by gathering relevant and adequate artwork and information for the supplier.

What the research covered

The enquiry stage survey research looked at:

  • Factors in selecting a supplier partner
  • Turnaround times for quotes
  • Quality of quotes
  • Lead times
  • Use of UK decorators

The order stage survey looked at:

  • Order acknowledgement speed
  • Turn around times for visuals
  • Lead times (dispatch from proof approval)
  • Service satisfaction levels
  • Across a range of product categories

Quoted lead times

24 hours – 0.8%
48 hours – 0.8%
3 – 5days – 8.3%
5 – 10 days – 39.7%
10 – 15 days – 38.8%
More than 15 days – 11.6%

Click here to see the full research findings

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