They go the extra mile to meet more than the minimum requirements. You’ll find good suppliers stick their neck out to respond to your changes positively. Keep them in the loop about what’s going on in your company and communicate any key changes in personnel, products, promotions and anything else. Another good sign is if they offer you exclusivity on certain products, provide great support even after the sale, and if anything is defective they replace it straight away.
It’s okay to be a demanding customer, just make sure you’re clear on what your expectations are in terms of quality, timings and prices. And if you do outgrow them one day, they’ll appreciate your honesty. If they’re really savvy they’ll try to maintain a good relationship with you as they know you’ll probably need back up suppliers on key product lines.
They make major contributions to your product development – remember they live product more than you do, so they are at the cutting edge of innovation. The good ones understand your company, your industry and your customers’ needs so you can build a broad product inventory that’s going to fly. Exceptional suppliers are early adopters and help their customers learn from them.
Although supplier pricing is important to grow your business, you shouldn’t haggle on every bill if the overall costing model is competitive and they meet your overall selection criteria. Remember, you want to build a long-term fruitful relationship. If they can provide lower prices on your core product lines, but a few items are priced higher, it’s a great deal. You need to balance competitive pricing without compromising on product and service quality.
They keep customers informed regularly about the good stuff but are also candid when they experience challenges. If you’re concerned about whether you’re getting the best price from a supplier, ask for their rate card. If they’re honest and include any unforeseen costs, you’ll be able to assess the margins more. However, if they tack on too many costs you may want to compare them against other suppliers.
They’ve been in business for a long time and have long-tenured senior executives, in addition to a solid reputation with past and current customers. They’ve mastered fulfillment and dispatch to ensure they have your key products in stock most of the time, and their order and delivery process is efficient and speedy. And if something does go wrong, they have backup systems so they can still live up to their responsibilities.
Maintaining accurate data for every product and category is a mammoth task. It’s great when the correct information is there for you, but when some data is missing or riddled with errors, it makes creating detailed listings a nightmare job. A supplier that recognizes this information as critical to the success of your business by consistently providing high-quality data, is a keeper.
If you need to change any orders at short notice to adjust with supply and demand so you’re not saddled with a huge unsold inventory, your supplier should have the systems in place to flex with your needs. Good suppliers will also offer you financial terms on purchases.
They are willing to develop the relationship into a partnership and become a crucial source of informa. They’ll help you evaluate current and future shopper trends so you can gauge the potential of existing and new product lines. They may also be willing to track competitors’ actions and spot any promising opportunities for your business.