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New Trend: Pre-Approval —Morgan

June 2008
IN LATE April, Print Buyers Online.com conducted one of our popular Quick Poll surveys to see if more print buyers are pre-qualifying printers before they are able to work with them. Seventy-one major print buyers answered the following question:

“Do your print suppliers have to be on an approved supplier list in order to work with your organization?”

• Fifty-four percent of print buyers said, “Yes.”

• Forty-six percent of print buyers said, “No.”

This is in stark contrast to how printers responded to a similar question. Here are the results of a Quick Poll directed toward our print supplier members:

“In the last year, do you believe that more customers are requiring that their printers must first pre-qualify and be on an approved supplier list before they can use them?”

• Thirty-three percent of print suppliers said, “Yes.”

• Sixty-three percent of print suppliers said, “No.”

• Four percent of print suppliers said, “I don’t know.”

These surveys were also conducted in April 2007. Our research shows that more print buyer respondents are requiring printers to be pre-approved. In fact, our print buyer respondents indicated that the requirement to use pre-approved suppliers has increased from 31 percent to 54 percent in just 12 months’ time! Yet our print supplier respondents were unaware of this trend, as their percentages remained almost constant between 2007 and 2008.

Mandatory Pre-Qualifying

The data speaks for itself; pre-qualification lists are becoming mandatory among many buying companies. Whether you believe this to be a good or bad practice, it is clear that this is an important trend—and one that warrants our attention.

One of myriad reasons supplier lists have become more important to print buyers is that they serve to delineate the rights and responsibilities of both parties. Erin Hynek, a commodity manager and print buyer for UPS, noted, “Our approved supplier list includes having a signed legal agreement and confidentiality agreement on file.”

In my mind, the pre-approval process is taking the place of the now-defunct Terms and Conditions for Sale document, which was created to minimize the number of conflicts between printers and their customers, as well as to diminish a printer’s financial liability when a job went awry. These standards were set up by parties that represented printers, and it is important to understand the new shift. Print buyers are now creating their own terms and conditions—and they expect their suppliers to adhere to them.
 

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