Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Are exclusivity deals good for the consumer?

Opendium has been going for over 9 years now, and over that time we've gained a number of schools as very happy customers through word of mouth (and as a testament to their satisfaction, no school has ever left us!)  We've spent that time working with our customers to build a very capable product, which is also somewhat cheaper than most of our competitors, and we're actively working to promote our product to more schools.

We're primarily marketing to independent schools, since they have much more freedom to make their own decisions, and there are a number of organisations that represent the British independent schools which we're actively engaging with.  This should be good for both us and their members.  Just last month we sponsored and attended the Welsh Independent Schools Council's annual conference, which was a good experience for us and brought up some interesting ideas for our product roadmap.  In fact, we've already implemented some of those ideas, and they are now going through the testing phase of our development cycle.

However, I was surprised by the Independent Schools Association's attitude when we contacted them - they refuse to work with us as they say they already have exclusive contracts with "preferred suppliers".  They are supposed to be working for their members, which seems at odds with any kind of supplier exclusivity.  Competition is almost always good for the consumer - it leads to innovation and lower prices, and conversely exclusivity almost always leads to stagnation and high prices.  Surely if they truly are working for the interests of their members, they would be trying to foster as much competition as possible and giving their members a wide variety of suppliers to choose from to meet their individual needs?

Thankfully, ISA's attitude doesn't seem to be shared by the other people that we have been in discussions with, so we're looking forward to working with them and benefiting their members.

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