Competitive Collaboration for Like-Suppliers in the Cold Chain Market

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Is that even possible, competitive collaboration? Well, pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers have been competitively collaborating for years. So why can’t like-suppliers in the Cold Chain market? Suppliers can, of course. It just takes courage.

Some packaging companies have partnered together over the last few years, but competitive collaboration is not the same as partnerships between suppliers of ancillary products working together. Competitive collaboration is about sharing information between true competitors, which in turn will enhance your products and service offerings to your customers while also raising the level of knowledge in the market.

It sounds logical, but why collaborate? Because collaboration helps us to continuously improve our business processes and products, and continuous improvement of your company and the market is beneficial for everyone. Continuous improvement activities breed sustainable positive results – and a sustainable business model including continuous improvement is the key to success in the global cold chain market.

So while the idea may make logical sense, how can you begin? Look for best practices from examples in the market today. Speak to your competitors. When was the last time you dared to ‘share’ ideas with a competitor? If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it. I’ve been involved in this market since 2005 and have spoken with, shared ideas and even recommended customers to the majority of my competitors at some time or another. The market is large enough for all of us, and with the potential for increased Controlled Room Temperature needs and increased regulatory pressures, there are companies that, like you, will embrace competitive collaboration. Your competitors in the Cold Chain market may have a solution, product or service that coupled with your own, might provide a very unique and marketable solution for a common customer.

So it sounds simple, but it’s not for everyone. Some individuals like to conduct business like warfare – they attack, defend, conquer and command their market. If that is your style, this article and suggestion won’t work for you. But before you turn the page on this concept, let me ask you one question - do you like to buy products or services from a company that treats you like a conquered possession? Of course not, no one does.

If you consider this competitive collaboration idea worthwhile, you may wonder if this is risky. Competitive collaboration can be seen as risky. "What if they ‘steal’ my business from me?", you may ask. "What if they learn my IP?". These are valid questions and concerns. You must develop a level of trust with these competitive collaborators. Building a strong sense of trust is important in any business relationship. But the truth is, the only risk you take is in not taking the risk. It’s that simple, and who knows, you may actually discover you and your competitor can learn more from each other than you could have on your own.

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