The year is 2023, and still thousands of phone calls are made daily to check the status of product orders. Thousands more phone calls are made daily to check inventory.

It’s stupid.

Clients ultimately suffer from these and other inefficiencies in our industry, giving them a bad experience. But the inefficiencies affect us all.

Suppliers spend money on staff to support distributors, and distributors spend on staff to make these calls. If each call takes just three minutes on average, and the average wage with benefits is even as low as $15 an hour, the cost of each call is $1.50 total (75 cents for the supplier and 75 cents for the distributor).

So, for every 20 calls our industry makes like this, we spend $30. For every 1,000 calls, we spend $1,500. I’m confident our industry makes more than 10,000 calls a day on these basic topics, meaning no less than $15,000 is wasted every day – never mind the opportunity cost from the fact there is better use of these staffers’ time.

The inefficiency is staggering.

I can hear suppliers saying, “Our website has inventory and order status.” This is valuable. Unfortunately, it is challenging for every person at a distributor (regardless of size) to login to every supplier site to check inventory and order status.

The problem is not hard to solve, but we as an industry have not taken the right steps, which has led to expensive IT investments without adoption.

It’s time to finally address the inefficiency problem and stop talking about it. It’s time for every supplier to adopt Promo Data Exchange from PPAI.

A single integration using PDX makes inventory available to 45,000 people who use SAGE to find products every day. That’s 45,000 people who don’t need to log in to a website or call a vendor to view supplier inventory.

Already nearly 100 suppliers have inventory in SAGE, all but eliminating phone calls regarding inventory. Similarly, order status is available with a single integration to SAGE. PDX works because smaller distributors do not need to make an investment to use it, nor do they have to continue investing to keep up with changes.

SAGE provides free technical support to all PPAI members who want to integrate using PDX. And integration is quite easy for most suppliers, especially if your data is already available on your website or through other systems such as PromoStandards, a PPAI business services member that has proved an excellent option for large suppliers but hasn’t reached the smaller distributors suited to PDX.

Distributors, the next time you or your staff are forced to call a supplier to check inventory or order status, tell them, “This is stupid,” and ask them why they don’t have their inventory and order status in SAGE.

As a supplier, if you do have your inventory in SAGE, make sure your team is asking the distributor if they are checking SAGE. If you are not yet using PDX, reach out to your SAGE account manager or Nick DiNicola at to get started.

Together we will provide better service to everyone, and ultimately the buying client. At the same time, we’ll waste less money and enjoy the work more. And that is not stupid.