In the current social and economic climate, the market has experienced an exponential increase in business competition and a higher consumer demand. Customers are no longer passive subjects, as Philip Kotler pointed out in ‘the 10 principles of the new marketing‘. Given the growing offer for products and services, they get to have their own voice and are willing to use it.
Distributors and retailers should be on top of new trends and habits to avoid getting left behind by an ever-changing market. To achieve this, the main objective is to gain – or in some cases keep – the client’s trust.
As reported by the newspaper Expansiónto gain the trust of stakeholders, reinforce the image of security among the target public and stand out from the competition, companies can acquire a certification or seal of quality.
What are quality certifications and what are they for?
According to the definition, quality certification is the result of a series of processes that guarantee that product manufacturing or service management meets the required standards established by a regulatory body.
It’s important to note that there are different certifications and not all of them are suitable for all companies or sectors, but we will dive into that later.
Although certifications are a voluntary process, many businesses choose this solution to ensure the quality of the products or services among their clientele.
However, obtaining a quality certification is not an easy task. Generally, procurement processes are long and require the involvement of the majority of the staff.
What are the most known quality certifications?
As we have already mentioned, quality certifications improve consumer confidence and, therefore, impact positively on business reputation. When it comes to certificates, the most popular regulatory body is the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO), although there are many others.
There are different types of quality certifications but we only highlight those that apply to distributors and retailers.
- ISO 9001 – Quality Management
The ISO 9001 standard is the most prestigious international certification. Any type of business, of any size, can apply for it, although it is best recommended for SMEs as it focuses on the customer-supplier relationship.
This standard is based on three main principles: consumer satisfaction, staff involvement, including top management, and business improvement.
Currently, there are more than one million ISO 9001-certified companies in over 170 countries worldwide.
- UNE 175001 – Commercial quality
The standard UNE 175001is also focused on small businesses and consists of a series of tools that are key for this type of business and that demonstrate the company’s commitment to continuous improvement.
They are applicable to a wide variety of commercial activities and are valid for three years.
- GMP-ISO 22716
The GMP-ISO 22716establishes the quality framework for the production, control, storage and distribution of cosmetic products.
This guide was created to respond to the European Union regulation 1223/2009 that requires cosmetic products to be manufactured within the ‘Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)’.
Although it’s focused on manufacturers, its main objective is to reinforce the confidence of distributors and final consumers of cosmetic products.
- R&D Certification
One of the most advanced quality guarantees in recent years in the Ia R&D&I certificationquality management.
One of the main advantages of this certification is the fact that it allows tax benefits for companies that invest in research and development activities, as well as technological innovation.
How to achieve a quality certification
Getting a quality certification is not an easy process. Quite the contrary, it’s likely to be a time-consuming process that requires the involvement of the different departments of the company.
However, it’s an opportunity to check, improve, and adjust, if needed, all the business processes and encourage participation and commitment from the whole organization.
- The first step is to analyze the multiple certifications available and the requirements established by the different regulatory bodies.
- Once the requirements are known, some tasks will come up, which should be assigned and even delegated to the right person or department. Needless to say, these employees must be able to work independently and be able to collaborate with others to implement the necessary actions.
- Before sending the information, an internal audit can be carried out to verify that everything is in accordance with the required standards. However, this step is totally optional.
- Finally, the regulatory body launches an external audit in which all processes will be reviewed and audited to confirm that they meet the specific standards. If the auditor finds errors, he will set a deadline to correct them, as well as a date for a new audit. If everything is in order, the company will receive a quality certificate that will be valid for a certain period of time.
Once this valid period has passed, the process must begin again in order to renew the certification. However, this time, with the implemented actions in place, the process will be much easier.
What are the benefits of a quality certification and how do they impact CSR?
At this point, the benefits of quality certificates seem clear:
- Consumer trust
- Improving business competitiveness
- Drive for continuous business improvement and innovation
- Feedback process and support for business assertiveness
- Improved image among stakeholders.
In addition to the direct advantages, the countless indirect benefits of obtaining quality certification to gain consumer confidence make this process entirely worthwhile.