Why your business should place a high priority on buying local
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By Carolyn Wincer, 28th June 2021
In this article Travelife for Accommodation discusses the benefits a business can reap from buying more goods and services locally.
As the world looks to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, much has been said about the importance of supporting local businesses. At Travelife for Accommodation, we require that our certified accommodation providers purchase at least some of their products locally, and strongly encourage them to continually do better in this area due to the many benefits of supporting businesses, in the places we do business, that go beyond building stronger economies.
Better buying power and influence
It is far easier to build a relationship with a local vendor and it is more likely that the person you are talking to has a more in-depth knowledge of their operations than, for example, a national or global sales rep. This allows your business to better assess the quality of goods and services, and get on top of problems with your supplier more easily. And whilst you may find that sourcing a product from a small local business costs more per unit than a multinational supplier, you can probably exert better control over quantity by only buying what you need, when you need it and, depending on what you are procuring, get something that is more tailored to your needs. Finally, even small businesses are likely to hold more sway over a local supplier than they will over a large far-off vendor.
Depending on what you are sourcing, you might be able to visit a farm or factory to see the conditions for yourself. This reduces the risk of supporting a business that is exploiting people, animals or the environment, all high-risk issues when it comes to your own reputation. If you find things of concern you have greater ability to ask for improvements than you ever would with a far-away supplier, especially if other businesses using the same product or service exert their influence to ask that the supplier operates in a more responsible manner.
"...you have better visibility over the quality of the products and services you are purchasing."
By having access to a local supplier and building a good relationship with them, you have better visibility over the quality of the products and services you are purchasing. This is particularly relevant in food service where not only can you check the quality of food being supplied but also tell your customers and staff authentic stories about where you sourced it from, helping them feel good about supporting the local economy too.
There can be numerous positive environmental impacts, or at least reduced negative ones, from a well-executed strategy to buy local. For starters, buying only what you need when you need it reduces waste. This is particularly true of food waste that can be a high emitter of greenhouse gases. You may also find that local suppliers can help reduce waste in other ways, such as collecting packaging they used to deliver your goods or agreeing to take away your food waste to use for compost. In some cases, buying food products when they are naturally in season can reduce energy and water consumption, and help to protect biodiversity. And sourcing products locally means less shipping is involved, thus reducing carbon emissions.
Protecting local culture and way of life
Some businesses may be able to do more to source products that are traditionally produced in the regions they operate in. For example, if weaving with wool from local sheep is a traditional source of income, can you purchase any products made this way for your business? What about food and beverage items, or art? Which brings us to our final point…
A strong economy is good for business
A strong local economy supports your business, even if you don’t have local people as customers. Increasing the working population and thus the amount of money circulating in the community generates more taxes for infrastructural improvements, education, policing, healthcare and beautification projects. It also attracts a bigger workforce to choose from and incentivises people to stay in the region so you are less likely to lose good staff who might otherwise move on to places that offer better opportunities for themselves and their families.
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