As end buyers continue to demand brand safety through responsible sourcing, promotional products suppliers have an important decision to make: How will they meet the needs of distributors, and in turn their end-buyer customers, in terms of corporate social responsibility and product safety?
While there are corporate responsibility statements, self-managed compliance programs simply aren’t effective. It’s kind of like the popular New Year’s Resolution to get more exercise. There’s excitement with the setting of a new goal. In January, gyms are filled day and night with people lifting weights and logging miles. Posts flood social media with people sharing their progress.
However, come March, gym traffic is down. There are less and less social posts about fitness. People have gone back to their old ways. Why? The commitment to fitness is hard. You have to put in the work every day to make gains. That’s why there’s an entire industry around fitness trainers and coachesto hold people accountable so they can reach the goals they set.
Same thing with compliance programs. Companies want to meet buyer demands by providing safe products that are responsibly sourced. So they try to keep up with the changing regulatory environment and manage all of the third-party factory audits themselves. Turns out, it’s harder than anticipated. Moreover, like the gym goers, after a few months the enthusiasm wanes, distractions occur (a machine breaks down, a website update must happen, a big order comes in, and it’s all hands on deck) and the compliance program is forgotten.
There must be a better way. Enter QCA Accreditation.
Partnering For Success
WOVIN Brands recognized the challenges of going down the compliance road alone, so they opted to apply for QCA Accreditation to help them develop the policies and procedures so they can consistently deliver safe, high-quality, socially compliant and environmentally conscientious merchandise that buyers demand—and have the documentation to prove it.
“Brand safety is increasingly important, and this is not a trend that will reverse course,” says Joe Johnson, WOVIN Brands’ director of operations. “The expectations that began with a few select brands are becoming the new standard for all brands. We must demonstrate to our distributor customers and their end buyers that they can put their trust in us. QCA is helping us create the system required to quickly and comprehensively respond to our customers.”
In today’s competitive business landscape, being able to meet customer needs is critical. “Customers expect that your products meet all applicable regulatory standards and that you have the documentation to prove it,” Joe says. “Customers not only expect high quality but also that you have the systems and processes in place to ensure that high quality is consistently met. Previously, it would have required a lot of work to gather all the necessary information, but with QCA as a resource, we have been able to meet these needs.”
Going through the Accreditation process, applicants may be surprised at what they uncover about their own businesses. “The most eye-opening part has been working through the self-assessment. It truly shines a light on where you are, where you need to be and what you need to consider,” Joe says. “We are already learning new ideas and best practices that we are eagerly putting into place. The Accreditation process also helps us to clearly define and refine the processes that we have in place. It challenges you to look closely at your procedures to see if they truly accomplish the intended goals.”
When new applicants look at the Accreditation Program, it can seem daunting. It’s like going from being able to run a mile to a 26.2. Accreditation isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Like distance running, there is a detailed program to follow to keep applicants on track.
“I was initially concerned about the substantial scope of the Accreditation process,” Joe says, “but QCA has a well-defined plan to break down the process into smaller tasks that allow you to make progress each week. I have been very impressed by the knowledgeable resources that I work with through QCA. They put together a strong team that I feel comfortable putting my trust in.”
The price is also a concern, even though having a comprehensive compliance program can actually result is more business, especially from larger consumer brands that require stringent and proven programs. (Note: QCA has recently launched a new participation model to make the program accessible to companies of all sizes.)
“I will admit that I too was initially hesitant due to the price tag,” Joe says. “I now look back and view the price as a good investment considering the time and attention that I receive from a very strong resource. In contrast to hiring a consultant or attempting this journey on your own, I believe that you will reach your goal quicker and more cost-effectively utilizing QCA.”
***At the time of this publication WOVIN Brands has not yet received its Accreditation. The organization is in the program and working diligently towards completing all requirements in the coming months.***