As someone who is trying to build a store by finding the best merchandise, you'll need good suppliers. As you add products to your inventory, you may need to start and maintain relationships with suppliers around the globe. Juggling so many business relationships isn't always simple; how can supplier relations and management be easier?
Ask for Recent Catalogs
When you're looking to expand your product lines, you may not have to look farther than your current suppliers. Rather than bringing a new supplier into the mix, you may be able to work out an arrangement with a supplier you already use. This can at times save shipping and other costs. However, you might never discover the offerings your suppliers have without asking for a recent catalog. Keep the most up-to-date catalogs nearby so that anytime you want to stock new products, you see what the possibilities are with the suppliers you're already communicating with.
Looking through catalogs is also useful because you may find that more than one supplier offers the same or similar products that you're currently selling. If one supplier has problems and you need to restock quickly, already being aware of this product overlap is useful.
Track Shipping Times and Prices
When you're using several suppliers to stock your retail space, they're all likely to have different shipping times and make different delivery arrangements with you. This can be a challenge for you and your employees, as deliveries can happen all day long. By logging and tracking supplier shipping information, your staff can better expect shipments and more efficiently unload and unpack items as they arrive. Explore software that will make this a simple task to do; free trials or demo versions of different platforms will ensure you select software which you can work with.
You may also want to assess shipping prices periodically. Shipping prices may fluctuate depending on the supplier's own issues, but remain aware of changes so that you aren't overpaying. If you notice unusual fluctuations, discuss them with suppliers right away.
Once you make arrangements with individual suppliers, you may be reluctant to change or re-negotiate terms. However, for the success of your store, you may need to revisit payment times, order amounts and other issues. Periodically, evaluate your arrangement with each of the suppliers you use; make a list of changes you'd like to see and ask for them.
If the number of suppliers you're working with begins to overwhelm you, consider professional business supplier management solutions. By delegating supplier relationships to professionals, you can continue to build working relationships without sacrificing attention to other business tasks.