PPE – What do you mean I can’t get it??

We have all been through several difficult months this year. Lockdowns, working from home, technology challenges, layoffs, essential verse non-essential, wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, GET MORE PPE!!
Some of us have purchasing people, some don’t; but few have ever experienced the shortages, backorders, confusion, delays, or fraud that we have been exposed to during this pandemic.
Here is a list of some of the most frequent topics along with some information which will make these items more understandable:
  • Backorders vs Allocations
    • A backorder is an item that is stocked and either the distributor or the manufacturer temporarily does not have enough inventory in stock to fill the existing orders. This can be caused by the distributor not placing timely orders; the manufacturer not having enough raw material to make the product; having an unplanned or unanticipated run of orders on the product; holdups in delivery; etc.
    • Allocations are entirely different. This is when either the distributor or the manufacturer knows that they will not be able to keep up with the need so they devise a way so that everyone can get some of the items. Typically, this is determined based on the customers’ utilization over the last year of that product. They are allotted a % of that utilization per month based on the % of customers that the distributor has for the stock available on this product. These are normally refreshed after 30 days
    • An allocated product can also be a backordered product. Welcome to the world of PPE.
  • Order holds vs cancellations
    • Orders may be put on hold for products that are either on backorder or on allocation for which the customer has a determined amount they can purchase in a 30-day period. These items will ship once the backorder is received by the distributor in the order in which they were received. But the amount shipped may not match the amount ordered.
    • An order is canceled when the distributor does not expect to receive the product or the customer either is not allocated to order the product or they have already received their allocated amount for the 30-day period.
  • Known distributors vs unknown cold calls
    • It is always better to order from existing distributors which you have a relationship with, even if you do not normally purchase that product from that particular distributor. i.e. you might not normally purchase gloves from an office supply company but since they do carry them it is still a safe place to purchase them.
    • It becomes questionable when you are randomly approached by people via social media, email, cold calls, or any other communication avenue. This is the opportunity for fraud to happen. There are several things you can do to try and vet this type of contact:
      • Are they referred by someone you have done business with and has that organization purchased products from this contact and how was their experience?
      • Run a D&B or Experian check on the company and the contact
      • Research their company on-line
      • Research their phone number
      • If someone claims to be with a company call the main number of the company and see if they are an employee of the company
      • Does it make sense that they would try and sell this product?
      • Have a conversation asking questions, listen to their responses – are they evasive or too quick to respond
      • Do they ask for full payment upfront?
    • Here are some of the challenges with using an unknown channel
      • Pricing – exceptionally high
      • Quantities – exceptionally high for small organizations
      • Number of delivery points – they typically want only 1 or 2
      • Delivery times – sometimes the order ships within a week but delivery can take 4 – 8 weeks
      • They want the payment upfront – are they willing to do ½ or possibly even net 10 days
      • Method of payment – some want the money wired to their account (this point and the previous one should be a red flag if they are asking for full payment to be wired prior to them placing the order)
      • Providing certification of approval of their product from the FDA
      • Guarantees on the quality of their product – are there any?
  • Approved product vs something/anything
    • During this pandemic, the FDA has put out guidelines for products that are acceptable for use by manufacturers which they have either certified their product or certified some of their products and are making an allowable exception of other products they manufacture. You must monitor this list because the FDA changes it without warning so someone on the list today may not be on it next week. Anyone on this list should have a letter or certification which they can give you and their labels need to match that certification.
    • At a point during this pandemic, it was noted that instead of only accepting N95, KN95, or surgical masks that people could use cloth mask the CDC provided instructions on how to make them and the materials that should be used. This is an example of something/anything verse nothing. Cloth masks are not an optimal solution and if they are not made of the right material, they do little to help, but they are still better than having nothing at all. Other examples might be using kitchen hair covers verse surgical covers, or work shoe covers verse the surgical booties.
As you can see, I have just touched on a few of the issues and they can be overwhelming for people who have never been exposed to this. This is where having a group such as Spendlocity, LLC which you can depend on to handle your needs can make you feel more prepared and less vulnerable to the people out there who don’t have your best interests at heart.
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