Suppliers who hurt small business

My software company services in four marketplaces. Most of our clients are newsagents. We work with close to thirty suppliers to newsagents and facilitate the electronic loading of invoice data from suppliers to newsagents. It frustrates me that three major suppliers to newsagents – News Limited, Fairfax and Group Newsagency Supplies (GNS – a newsagent stationery wholesale co-operative) are the worst at providing clean data. These same three are also the worst at general IT implementation which cold save many hours each week in small business newsagencies.

The EDI developments which would be necessary for News Ltd, Fairfax and GNS to implement have already been implemented by Hallmark, John Sands, For Arts Sake, other card companies, magazine distributors, tobacco wholesalers and many others. It’s not brain surgery.

News Ltd, Fairfax and GNS need to want newsagents to have the ability to run their businesses efficiently. Based on their current practices I’d suggest this is not a high priority for these three companies. They are happy with an incomplete IT link with newsagents. They get what they want and bugger the newsagents and they time they lose in their businesses.

It is unfair that newsagents are treated poorly by these suppliers and are therefore forced to lose many hours in their shops each week on manual data processes which lead to in store mistakes and cost each business significant revenue.

I’d tired of big business suppliers complaining about small business when I know that these three companies are focusing at least 4,600 small businesses in Australia to live in the dark ages.

Years ago Coles refused to accept stock which was not barcoded. Maybe newsagents could refuse to deal with suppliers who do not meet basic EDI standards. Of course this would require newsagents to be united and actually see through the ban. It won’t happen.

I risk getting into trouble from the suppliers I have named. They will say I should have gone to them first. Well, I have, many times over recent years. Absolutely no progress has been made. I am using this blog entry with feint hope to shame them into some action. This small business channel deserves more esepcially from News Ltd and Fairfax.

What’s in it for me? Nothing really other than the comfort that newsagents will actually gain hours back thanks to better use of their IT resources.

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