Business information is rather important in any job or transaction. The role of business intelligence is very important not just for survival of business but also for the day to day business negotiation and transaction. And when there is a lack of vital information available, misjudgement can occur and can be very costly to the business.
Sometimes the lack of available information makes it very difficult to make any proper judgement. And if your position of your company is that of trading where the many products sold are based on agency rights, then your business position is precarious indeed.
The business environment now is very different from long ago. The old concept of long ago where companies set up factory production usually just concentrate on production and cost reduction in the hope that the lower price will yield more sales. They basically left the sales and marketing to agents and trading houses.
Nowadays in a very dynamic business environment, where business condition change very quickly, many manufacturing companies now rely less on agents and trading houses and tend to deal business direct with end-users. Long business partnership counts as nothing and if for whatever reason they do not feel satisfactory in their agent sales, they will find excuses to terminate agency rights.
However manufacturers are not able to deal with all the potential businesses in the market, so what they do is they try to take over all the main big customers and leave the crumbs for agents and trading house to pick up the pieces.
So as a trading house in an agency position, the sales quantity becomes less and less unless they take on riskier position to add value to the sales products and services.
Now how does business information affects the ability of agents and trading houses? Some customers and suppliers don’t play fair nowadays. If they like you, they will share information with you. Information that is vital for concluding a deal and the very most important one is usually the price and comes next the quantity. This come secondary to usability and technicality as this issues are already resolved long time ago. This situation applies to long term business relationship.
Customers don’t want to show their hand on the competitors offering, and if the suppliers also don’t want to share their information that they have gleaned from their other sales, as middleman, you won’t have a clue on how to move. Trap in an unenviable situation, one false move and either side will be offended.
And somehow that was the position that I was in. Neither side wanted to enlighten the current market situation, and without a clue as to how to assess the situation, made a gross error in following the Nike maxim, “just do it”. There was a time limitation factor, customer complaint we were always slow in giving out quotation and the supplier did not want to commit. So I made a judgement and it was a bad call leading to loss of sales and loss of face as well too. It was either this or wait in limbo for some information to come out.
And now the situation is dire with the supplier threatening to terminate agency because they say we are unreliable and they are considering dealing direct with customer. All this problem from just one simple but crucial missing piece of information. So now we are in a state of limbo even though we try to save the situation but this customer like to play hardball. We may get some sales, but in the end we may lose the agency leaving us with the potential long term loss in sales.
I feel that agency sales will be diminishing in the future as more and more manufacturers go direct with customers. The only way to survive would be to come up with something innovative, provide more value added services or provide more riskier services. Such is the situation of a trading house and its diminishing role in the market place.