We work in a marketplace (newsagents) where suppliers control much of newsagents sell. These 4,600 independently owned retailers and distributors are at the mercy of supply decisions by their suppliers. Each day see evidence of unconscionable conduct by suppliers against these small businesses. The small business operators feel helpless. Many have tried to reason with the suppliers doing the damage and have failed. So they give up.

Our mission is beyond providing an IT solution. Our mission is to connect these small businesses, aggregate their data and encourage them to use the data to right the wrongs they suffer every day at the hands of suppliers.

Suppliers who knowingly supply product in quantity anything more than double the maximum sold previously ought to be fined or penalised in some monetary way. Especially when the small business makes only 25% gross profit of the lines in question.

In some cases, suppliers keep cutting back supply when the newsagent figures show that they consistently sell out.

So, on the one hand we see businesses drowning in stock and on the other hand, in a different part of the shop, we see the same business gasping for oxygen through lack of stock.

This is the work of (at best) careless suppliers or (at worst) heartless suppliers who care less about the channel which for decades has been crucial to their success.

There is no other business channel in the world where such behavior would be accepted.

Why am I bothered about this? A client of long standing has been on the phone and in tears tonight about the treatment his business is receiving from one supplier. Beyond the harm to his business, his health and family life are suffering. Through absolutely no fault of his. And the supplier says it is the way it is.

Time is approaching when this small business channel will have to fight in a different way if they are to survive and while it’s not the role of an IT company, we will be there alongside them, fighting for their future.