Like any healthy relationship, one with your suppliers must be continuously nurtured. Establishing a strong rapport with suppliers could potentially lead to better rates, faster service and overall growth in reliability and trust. When you sell products, this is a crucial piece of your business.
Retail owners who take suppliers for granted can quickly spiral into an undesirable thread of late inventory arrivals, purchase order failures and more - all of which lead to more stress on your shoulders and angry customers who need their products from you.
Here are five ways to build a stronger relationship with your suppliers, allowing you to develop a more predictable inventory process:
1. Be proactive about understanding their business.
Don’t make assumptions about how your suppliers run their business. When you are establishing how you will work together, ask questions that show you care about them. Be inquisitive in a way that lets them know you respect the role they play in your business. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to recognize that everyone has a livelihood to keep up.
2. Understand they have other customers.
Imagine if you had one pesky customer who was frustrating you, demanding your time, and essentially taking your energy away from serving and selling to other customers. Don’t let this be you. With that said, you should be firm in your expectations and push for fairness.
3. Clarify expectations and communicate
To avoid any communication issues later down the road, be sure that your expectations are clear. Also, be sure to inform your suppliers of any major changes in your organization that may affect them. Keep them updated on future product plans and leverage their knowledge to possibly improve those plans.
4. Be more reasonable about lead times.
Give suppliers as much lead time as possible for orders. Review your projections with your suppliers so that they have a good sense of your business plans. If anything changes, be sure to communicate that accordingly. Also, be sure to ask about their production methods and needs. Any knowledge pertaining to how your suppliers run their business will be very valuable to you.
Nurturing an ongoing relationship with your suppliers can take a substantial amount of effort, the long-term results are vital. Be fair, knowledgeable, honest in your forecasting and understanding of their needs. Communicate with clarity and be sure to keep them updated. With these efforts, you'll secure a timely order process, more organized system and possibly better rates, enabling you to save money, improve customer experience and increase sales.
Are you a supplier or retailer that has other tips? Reach out to us below!