Supplier relationship management is essential when buying in bulk for your boutique or retail store – here are five ways to improve your relationship with your supplier.
As a retail business owner, you must find quality products at a low price so you can sell them in your store for a profit. You spend hours searching for the right supplier.
Once you find them, you may feel like you’ve hit the jackpot. You accomplished your goal. And you did. But finding the best supplier is your new starting point to reaching long-term goals for your business.
You must learn to manage your relationship with the supplier effectively. Understanding the value of supplier relationship management can help you see why it is the key to success.
Benefits of Wholesale Supplier Relationship Management
When you build a positive relationship with a supplier, you begin to work together. They want you to succeed and vice versa. Wholesale suppliers are willing to negotiate on many services. You find ways to save money, get better discounts, and get a heads up on sales and promotions.
You will also notice an improvement in the order and delivery processes, like receiving products before your deadline when possible. If order issues arrive, strong supplier relationship management gets problems resolved quickly. You may experience streamlined operations, administrative duties that are easier to complete, and reduced risks.
Once you find the right wholesale supplier, you want to ensure your connection lasts a long time. Supplier relationship management is a process that makes this happen. It’s a process that takes work and needs continual improvements. The effort you put into managing the relationship will produce big rewards, however.
Let’s look at five ways you can improve your supplier relationship management.
1. Communicate When Not Ordering
Many suppliers hear from retail owners when the retailer needs something, and they need it right then and at a discount. Wholesalers and other suppliers are people, too, and can feel like the retailer is trying to take advantage of them.
Improving supplier relationship management means communicating with them even when not ordering. You can do this by checking in with them occasionally. Mail them a thank you letter, send an email, or post positive comments on their social media page. Let them know you are not only interested in getting the best deals.
Having said that, you are not looking to become besties with your supplier. You want to help them remember you, so other processes become more efficient, like communicating for orders.
2. Communicate When Ordering (the Right Way)
Even though you are building relationships and getting to know your suppliers, professional communication is crucial when it comes to business discussions. Use language that represents your professionalism rather than slang. Address company members appropriately and don’t stray from topics outside of your retail supplier relationship.
Most suppliers have ordering software through which you can communicate. It’s like a one-stop-shop that gives you access to products, deals, and supplier staff. Use this platform to communicate about orders and topics directly related to your business or your relationship.
This helps you locate conversations, agreements, and even disagreements quickly because you don’t have to search through various communication platforms to remember which one you used for business topics.
3. Know Your Stuff
The more you know about your business and your customers, the easier it will be for wholesalers to meet your buying needs. Learn how to forecast demand for improved inventory management. Knowing more about your expected sales and the timing of those sales can improve budgeting, production, warehousing, and shipping processes. You will also learn how to market to your customers, so you don’t have leftover inventory.
Another tip is to know your contract with the supplier and adhere to it. This protects both you and the supplier in the long run. If contracts need to be revised, you can work together in making changes.
4. Do The Right Thing
The basics of being a good human also apply to your supplier relationship. Traits like honesty, loyalty, kindness, respect, and paying your bills on time go a long way to improve your supplier relationship management.
Wholesale suppliers remember behaviors. You could have the best personality on the planet, but if you lie to get out of paying for products, that’s how they will remember you.
Being honest doesn’t mean being hurtful. If you bought products that arrived broken or lower quality than expected, stay calm and politely tell your supplier what happened. Work together to reach a good solution for both of you. If the supplier responds in a mean or hurtful manner, it may be best to look for a new supplier.
One of the most important ways to improve supplier relationship management is to take responsibility for anything you have done wrong. If you are to blame, own it, apologize, and move forward. Suppliers respect retailers who take accountability for their actions. It encourages suppliers to do the same.
5. Think of Suppliers as Partners
Okay, to be clear, suppliers are not your partner. However, making them feel like a partner can improve supplier relationship management. Ask your supplier for feedback on some of your business ideas. Share success stories of customers who bought their products. Brainstorm with them to develop ideas on creative selling.
Including your supplier in small ways can make them feel valued and invested in your company’s success. If they feel supported, they will find ways to help you reach your goals. They will know that if you are successful, they are successful.
While there are numerous ways to improve supplier relationship management, these five are an excellent way to start. As you continue to build relationships, you will learn what the supplier values most. It may be making payments as a whole, feedback on products, pre-ordering, or avoiding returns.
Most suppliers will tell you what they appreciate the most from retail buyers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how you can make them happy. This leaves no guessing, just the facts. Then, do your best to meet their wishes. They will likely do the same in return, and you will be working together to improve supplier relationship management.