The last 15 months since the coronavirus spread globally have, of course, been a frustrating time for everyone in the disposable glove industry.
For end users, a lot of that frustration stems from the lack of a consistent brand experience. If you can’t buy the gloves you want from a source you trust, you may have to use less-than-honorable sellers. And that means quality can suffer.
Things are tough all over the glove world. Manufacturers are short of raw materials. Their workforces, particularly in Malaysia and Thailand, are limited by lockdowns and new waves of COVID-19. Capacity limits hamper factories. The global supply chain is reeling from numerous factors.
‘Little’ problems become big problems
All that is on the macro level. Life on the micro level hasn’t been much fun either.
Distributors have had a difficult time securing product for their customers. Backorders are frustratingly common. Nitrile gloves, by far the preference of end users, have been in all-too-short supply.
Is the situation improving? Yes, says Corey Townsell, AMMEX’s Vice President of Sales. But we still have a ways to go.
“In the past 30 to 60 days it’s been a little easier to find nitrile,” he says. “Maybe not the exact product that end users want, but they’ve been able to at least get the material they want. Most end users are seeking a consistent, stable glove program. That means the specs they want, that they were getting pre-COVID, and the same brand week in and week out. So that’s a pain point.
“The distributors who solve that pain point, and are able to deliver and execute on that commitment, they’re likely going to have the lion’s share of the market.”
Price matters less than quality
Brand experience matters to end users, he says, because they are the ones using the gloves. Price is important, but it’s not the No. 1 sticking point. Quality has been a challenge throughout the pandemic, and people have been burned.
If the product is shoddy, the gloves they put on may tear or leak. Over the last 15 months, inferior gloves—some call them “seconds,” while other use the euphemism “repackaged gloves”—have flooded the market.
These gloves failed to meet quality control standards, but there is always a fly-by-night operation ready to buy them anyway and sell them as top grade. Brokers get them for a bargain, and these brokers know they won’t be in the market for long—just enough time to dump their inferior product on unsuspecting distributors and get out of the business.
This is not the way AMMEX does business. AMMEX’s top goal, Townsell says, is to deliver quality: “We’ve been in the glove industry since 1988. It’s our livelihood. We eat, sleep, and breathe gloves. Our network of manufacturers are high quality. The end user gets that consistent experience with our product.”
Gloves are a conversation starter
The most important step for positioning yourself in today’s market is to bring a consistent brand program to your most important customers. Service those key strategic accounts first, get them on a consistent program, and alleviate their frustration. Then you can target accounts that you maybe have not been able to get into yet.
“You can use gloves as a lead-in to get into some accounts because they haven’t had a consistent glove program,” Townsell says. “Why wouldn’t you? Gloves are still top of mind. They’re still a conversation.”
AMMEX always tells its partners to take the best deal they can get. That comes with the caveat of “from a reputable source.”
Brand matters. Don’t take chances with shoddy product to save a buck or two on a case of gloves. Order from our online portal, or call your sales rep directly. In the long run, your customers will thank you with their loyalty.