Trade Partners: how to deliver the best label for the job (Part I)

As a business, we value the trusted relationships we have with our trade partners. When it comes to working with third parties, our aims are twofold; to provide the end customer with the right label or tag for the job, whilst ensuring our partners’ objectives are met.

Working through a third party can have its challenges when it comes to specifying a label or tag. Technical specifications can be surprisingly complex and there is the danger of misinterpreting vital information along the way. Our dedicated account managers are always here to help our partners through the process, but a little knowledge about labelling can go a long way too.

Here are some key questions to ask your client when discussing their labelling needs:

What are you trying to achieve with your label?

Understanding what your client wants to get from their label or tag, rather than simply collecting a technical specification, is paramount.

Are they looking to improve their traceability system, increase productivity or improve their green credentials? Perhaps they are looking to fulfil a marketing promotion where a peel and reveal label or a QR code label might fit the bill?

It can be really valuable to visit your client’s operation and see labels and tags in use, if the opportunity is available to you.

What problems do you currently face with your labelling?

If your client is experiencing an issue with their current label supply this can often trigger an enquiry or request for a quote. If you find this is the case, it can be useful to probe the exact nature of the issues they are facing.

Of course, some clients will simply be looking for a better deal, shorter lead time or improved service levels. If this appears to be their motivation, why not ask how their current situation could be improved upon, or what could make things better for them. By probing their response, you could uncover other factors at play.

Teasing out a customer’s primary motivation can help when it comes to specifying the right label for their needs and move the ultimate decision away from being solely price driven.

What happens if the issue is not solved?

This may seem like a strange question to ask, but it is a great way to get your client talking about the issue in hand. It can uncover a more personal motivation behind the project and clarify the scale of the client’s current problems.

What are the risks of your label failing?

Again, this question is a good one for quantifying the scale of the issue and what failure really means to your client’s operation. Often the cost of fixing a problem label or tag is far less than the consequences of it failing. For example, bar code labels that scan badly can slow a production line right down, whilst a tag that disintegrates through a cooking process can have serious implications for lost traceability.

What would be your ideal labelling solution?

Some clients may understand their labelling conundrum perfectly and articulate the exact solution they are seeking. It is more likely though that your client, whilst having a clear grasp of the problem they face, may not know how to solve it. That is fine and asking this question can really open up the conversation and reveal current frustrations in more detail.

Who is involved in the buying process?

How many times have you thought you had closed a deal with the purchasing manager, only to find that the technical or operations manager needs to sign off? The buying team for, what might seem like, a simple label can often be cross departmental.

Often an operational label such as a traceability tag or metal detectable label will be specified by a technical manager, perhaps with the purchasing department’s involvement if the order size is substantial. Whereas a pack front or promotional label specification may involve a brand manager, operations manager and a purchasing manager.

We don’t expect our trade partners to be experts in labelling, so we are always available to help you through the process. You can trust us to work directly, and transparently, with your client, or you can keep us in the background. Whatever works for you.

If you are interested in working with us, please contact Andy Clarke for an initial chat or to arrange a label training session for your team.