4 signs you need a new supplier

For retailers, the holiday shopping rush is a great time for many things. You can gain new customers, raise awareness of your store, increase your sales volume, and sell out your inventory.

What it’s less good for is reflection. Because of the sheer pace of things, you barely have the time to fulfill orders as they come in, let alone analyze how well your supply chain is working.

Well, that’s what the post-holiday sales lull is for. You must have faced several urgent issues during those frantic final weeks of last year; it’s time to examine how everything went, how your suppliers did, and learn from your experience.

Your success depends on your suppliers

Unexpected kinks in a supply chain may cause serious problems for retailers. A delayed shipment, a misfiled document, or a faulty batch of products can set your inventory back for days. Your customers won’t care that it’s not your fault: they’ll be knocking on your door, demanding answers.

The middle of a crisis is not the best time to make long-term decisions. Wait until the waves of shoppers have retreated and you have some time to think clearly. Once you’ve worked out everything, you have to examine what happened and draw the consequences.

Sometimes a supply chain kink is just a one-time occurence. Accidents happen, and if it turns out the issue was caused by an honest mistake or a one-time problem, you can forget about it and move on. But what if you come across recurring incidents?

Wait until the waves of shoppers have retreated and you have some time to think clearly. Once you’ve worked out everything, you have to examine what happened and draw the consequences

A supplier who’s constantly underperforming may set back and even jeopardize your business. Don’t take responsibility for your suppliers’ problems. Choose vendors you can really rely on.

That said, even the best supplier may face temporary problems. If your otherwise stellar supplier slips up and delivers a day later than usual, there’s no need to fire them. Everybody’s allowed to make mistakes from time to time. However, if you see a pattern of errors, or the same problems keep repeating, it may be time to cut the cord and look for a new supplier.

Here are 4 telltale signs that help you determine whether you need new suppliers.

Supplier/supply chain callout

There are 5 easy ways to find an international supplier, and grow your business. Read about them here.

Inadequate service

This is mostly a no-brainer. If you feel like your supplier’s not delivering what you agreed on, you should replace them.

However, there’s a case of inadequate service in a supply chain that’s more difficult to notice. You may have the best supplier delivering the greatest products, but they’re not helping your business grow.

It may not even be their fault. Sometimes, two companies are unable to work together because they have different business goals.

Sometimes, two companies are unable to work together because they have different business goals.

For example, it’s quite likely that a mass-producer of furniture won’t be able to work with a business selling organic hand-carved wood. The price would be too high, the quantities too low, and overall, the relationship would be unsatisfactory for both parties.

If you feel that despite best efforts, your business needs and those of your supplier’s just don’t click, you may have to part ways with them, even if there’s nothing really wrong with their service.

Unpredictable deliveries

Everybody’s on a tight schedule nowadays. Especially businesses that use the Just-In-Time (JIT) logistics method need to know exactly when their supplies will arrive so they won’t run out of stock.

If a supplier keeps messing up your schedule by delivering too late (or too early), your business suffers. Let your business partner know how tight your schedule is and why you can’t tolerate unpredictable deliveries. If their performance doesn’t improve, you should draw the consequences and move on.

Poor communication

No news is good news, right? Well, as long as your supplies arrive at the exact time and in the right condition they’re supposed to, then yes. But what if that’s not the case?

You don’t need a heartfelt, handwritten note when there’s a problem with a delivery. But a good supplier gets in touch with you every time there’s a deviation from what you agreed to. The best thing is if they ring you before you notice the problem, with a solution at hand.

However, there are cases when that’s not possible. For example, if the products break during shipment, there’s no way the supplier could know that before you open the packaging. A scenario like this is a great way to test your supplier’s communication.

You don’t need a heartfelt, handwritten note when there’s a problem with a delivery. But a good supplier gets in touch with you every time there’s a deviation from what you agreed to. The best thing is if they ring you before you notice the problem, with a solution at hand.

Once you inform them of the problem, they should come up with a solution in a short amount of time. But what if you can’t even reach them? Or what if they tell you they’ll ring you back and then they don’t?

A good supplier wouldn’t evade difficult issues. If you feel like you’re made to jump through hoops just to reach your business partner, it’s definitely a sign that you’re not working with a person who has their clients’ best interest at heart.

Don’t make a decision based on one call. Maybe your supplier is in a business meeting, or having a lunch break. But if you begin to see a pattern of them avoiding you, it’s definitely time to look around for a potential new supplier.

Sudden and frequent changes

If your supplier keeps changing their price, payment method, delivery dates, quantities, or any other major part of the order, it may be a sign of trouble.

Over a long business relationship, changes are natural. Technology evolves, businesses find better payment methods, or unforeseen circumstances may prevent a shipment to arrive on time. But if this keeps happening, it may point to underlying, structural problems that can ultimately affect your business as well.

If you feel like you’re hardly able to keep up with the changes your supplier’s inflicting on you, it’s quite likely that they’re facing a bigger problem. If it’s an old and trusted relationship, you may want to get to the bottom of it before you seek a new partner. Who knows, you may even be able to help them overcome their problem.

But you don’t have to put up with behavior that’s damaging your business. If you think the relationship is beyond repair, or simply not worth saving, move on.

Conclusion

It’s not easy to find the best supplier. Luckily, with increasing global trade, you don’t have to limit your choice to your vicinity, or even your country. Don’t accept subpar service or behavior from any supplier.

After all, you have the whole world to choose your business partners from.

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