Choosing the right suppliers to work with thus becomes imperative because they have a direct impact on your business. As with every symbiotic relationship, their problems soon enough become yours too. However, as you make your decision you will be met with an array of options to choose from. How do you make the right pick?
Here are some factors to consider before you sign any B2B supply deals.
What They Can Offer
The most basic requirement is that the company can supply the product or service that you are sourcing for. It would be advisable to have a look at other orders they have fulfilled to get a sense of their work. Alternatively, it may be beneficial to give them a brief and request a sample for your analysis.
Further, weigh other matters such as:
The nature of business is that you need to keep evolving with the times. It is the only way to survive in a competitive market. In light of this, it would be essential that your supplier is able to offer you innovative solutions. It is also a plus if they are open to collaborating with you to create them.
There are companies that are unwilling to adapt to any new designs or methods of production. When your supplier works within such limitations, it will equally limit your business ideas. They would undoubtedly be a bad fit for you.
A package deal refers to the kind of offer where a supplier provides you with additional related services.
Take, for instance, that you are in the soda industry. You will require quality branded bottles to distinguish your product in the market. If you choose a supplier that only manufacturers bottles you would need to have them branded elsewhere. It is both time-consuming and expensive. Therein lies the importance of a package deal.
It would be much more convenient to find an experienced soda bottle manufacturer that is a one-stop-shop. A B2B supplier that is able to offer you comprehensive services gives you room to focus more on your business.
When the cost of inputs is high, it forces you to increase the price of your product. It is the only way for your business to remain profitable. That said, changes in price may cause you to lose customers to competitors.
A supplier that offers you stable competitive prices is, therefore, important for the overall health of your enterprise. Fluctuating rates will make it difficult for you to budget for your costs and can result in losses. Buying directly from manufacturers as opposed to fellow retailers often comes with such pricing perks.
In regard to payment, keep in mind that running a business has its peaks and lows. What would happen in the event that you are not able to pay on time? As you negotiate deals with potential suppliers, discuss the possibility of them offering credit facilities when necessary. You may find yourself in need of such relief.
Consistency, timeliness, and flexibility are some of the characteristics that make up a good supply chain. They can make or break a B2B relationship.
Timely completion of your order will keep your own business schedule running smoothly. An ideal supplier should be able to consistently meet your demand. Whenever they fall short or have difficulty fulfilling your order, they should be able to outsource on your behalf.
Supplier flexibility, on the other hand, gives you the option to increase or decrease your order depending on your needs. Some manufacturers have set limits for minimum units that you can order. Make an effort to examine such stipulations as they would work against you in the future.
One of the pitfalls of outsourcing services is that you are not fully in charge. You, therefore, need to know that your B2B supplier will maintain your quality standards. It is especially critical if they are client-facing.
For example, if you contract a company to effect deliveries to clients, it is a highly sensitive arrangement. Any instances of poor delivery will reflect badly on your business. With this in mind, quality is certainly not something you want to compromise on.
It is always an advantage to be in a relationship with a business that cares about your needs beyond the purchase. Some of the after-sale services you might need include:
Logistics can be a headache-inducing part of running a business. It is not easy to coordinate warehouse services or shipment especially across countries or state lines. Moreover, if your business is still in its early stages, you may have yet to establish such networks.
Look out for suppliers that have an established system of delivery. It will be much easier than trying to struggle through international or inter-state logistics.
You can pick up on this from the early stages of interacting with a business. They will either have or lack the essential features of good customer support such as:
Quick response times
A willingness to solve your problems or queries
Accessible communication channels
In addition, customer support services such as helping you choose the right solution are key. It demonstrates that the business is not just concerned with selling their product but they also care about customer satisfaction too.
The hope is that you can find great suppliers right from the start. Now that you know what to factor in as you make your choice, that might be possible. However, should you be repeatedly discontent, it is always a good idea to explore alternatives. Sometimes, the second try is the charm.
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About Author: Chris Fraser
Chris has served as a business advisor to a big list of small and micro businesses; localized businesses and social enterprise in particular. Chris is also an avid reader and loves to stay updated about latest tech and innovation.