10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Supplier

Stimulus, Inc.
8 min readMay 23, 2023
Photo by Centre for Ageing Better

As a business owner or leader, relationships are everything. Creating strong and amicable relationships is an art form, and the companies that do it best are the ones that continue to succeed for years to come. However, when it comes to supplier relationships, it can be difficult to create those strong connections. This is where a strong supplier acquisition strategy comes into play.

By finding the right suppliers based on various criteria, you can ensure your chances of success and create lasting supplier relationships that benefit the stakeholders of your company. To help you achieve this level of supplier satisfaction and simplification, let’s take a closer look at some of the most important qualities that a great supplier will exemplify and how to choose between suppliers effectively.

Finding ‘The One’ Without Getting ‘Catfished’

Finding a supplier that can accommodate your company’s needs not just in the present but in the future as you grow your brand is unfortunately harder than it looks. One of the main reasons for this is that supplier portfolios and directories have the same downfall as most dating apps nowadays.

If you’ve ever used a dating app before, you likely know that the vast majority of users only put their best photos, most relatable traits, and most ‘green flag’ aspects of their personalities on their profiles. This helps the dating app users to get more matches based on their seemingly broad appeal and positive attributes alone. However, as dating progresses, other characteristics are sure to appear which may cause problems between these users that can’t be fixed. The irony in this is that all of these inconveniences could have easily been avoided by simply knowing the true nature of one another from the start. The same concept applies to supplier acquisition as well.

When finding suppliers currently, the archaic structures are built upon their strengths and rarely allow companies to be on the same level as them. As such, most supplier relationships aren’t based on what suppliers can do for you but rather what you are willing to pay for their often disconnected and unreliable services. But, this doesn’t have to be the case any longer with supplier networking strategies such as the Stimulus Relationship Intelligence Platform (SRIP) and the considerations compiled below.

With these 10 key elements, you can begin to find honest and transparent suppliers that meet your needs, connect with you on a regular basis, and help your company to grow successfully.

Acquiring a Supplier That Meets Your Needs

Although these are far from the sole considerations you should make when choosing to work with a supplier, they serve as a foundation for your brand that will help you to find reliable choices and eliminate current suppliers that might not be capable of meeting your and your customers’ needs.

  1. Consistent High Quality

A major aspect of your supplier relationships is bound to be the inventory you purchase through them. However, not every supplier has high quality inventory that is consistent and reliable. As such, one of the first things you should analyze when choosing a supplier is whether or not their quality and consistency are adequate.

A good way to measure this is by looking at reviews of the supplier online and testing them out for a few months. If you see that multiple people were displeased with their quality or you experience quality inconsistencies over the trial period, you can move on to a supplier that’s more equipped and consistent to keep your customers satisfied.

2. Effective Communication

As possibly the most important element of a strong supplier relationship, communication from the start is crucial. Even as you begin to search for various suppliers, you will want to consider their response times and whether or not they take the initiative to contact you throughout the acquisition process.

A communicative supplier will likely reach out to you after your first inquiry, communicate their pricing and product inventory, and continue to talk with you through every step of the process. This level of communication is what B2B success is built on. Even if you were to find the cheapest and quickest supplier on the market, if you can’t communicate with them when there are problems or unforeseen circumstances, the rest of their positive qualities won’t matter.

However, with a strong base of communication in place between your team and your suppliers, you can solve any problems you may have and continue to fulfill orders in a positive and timely manner.

3. Reliability

Another great quality that a supplier should exemplify is the ability to be trusted and reliable for your team. Although it’s no secret, many companies often forget just how important suppliers are for their brand image and customer satisfaction analytics. With the wrong supplier on your side, you could be sending subpar products and not meeting the shipping estimates either. Similarly, a bad supplier can affect your ability to meet the demands of your customers during peak times of the year such as the holidays since their inventory may be limited or they may not be capable of reliably sending you stock.

To counteract these problems, you will need to find a reliable supplier that can meet your needs even when the unexpected occurs or during peak times of the year. Working with local diverse suppliers can help with this problem as they tend to have a more connected relationship with their clients and want to prove they can easily compete with the massive suppliers in the market.

4. Appropriate Prices

While this may already be an element of your supplier acquisition process, it’s still important to emphasize its value for your business and your customers alike. When a supplier overcharges, it affects all parties involved and makes it more difficult for your brand to grow, your team to be paid competitively, your customers to purchase from you rather than your competitors, and your inventory to stay fully stocked.

To determine what pricing is fair and aligns with your company’s budget, you will need to compare multiple suppliers in your industry. This is where data analytics and transparency from the supplier comes into play. If you’re not already looking at the data points of your suppliers, it’s time you take the initiative and do so as these analytics can help you in multiple ways, including when it comes to finding the most cost-effective supplier in your network.

5. Honesty

As we discussed above, suppliers tend to embellish and only showcase their best qualities online in the same way that individuals using dating apps do. The problem with this is that you never get a full picture as to what your supplier and their practices look like until it’s too late.

To find a supplier that is capable of being honest even when it doesn’t make them look flawless, try working with more modern and local suppliers. As these suppliers aren’t given the same ‘tenure-esque’ benefits of the major suppliers that have been around for decades, they are more honest and open with their customers to create a positive brand image worthy of retention and referrals.

6. Transparency

While transparency and honesty go hand in hand, an honest supplier that isn’t transparent is far less valuable than one that exemplifies both qualities. Most small or local suppliers will happily share their data with you, their successes and failures, their stock, and their pricing from the start making it easier for you to see why they’re worth your time as a company leader.

However, larger suppliers tend to make it difficult to find this information and are less likely to be transparent with you from the start as they attribute their success to their name rather than their reputation or services. Knowing this, try looking for suppliers that will show you their case studies and prices from the beginning in order to create a relationship built on mutual trust and understanding.

7. Experience

Although not every adequate supplier has years of experience under their belt, every supplier you choose to work with should have at least a few past clients to showcase their consistency and quality.

When coordinating with potential new suppliers, you will want to do your research online about their brand’s reputation, their past clients, and their years in business. You may also want to see if they are certified if they are a diverse supplier as this showcases their dedication to their work and their inclusive culture all at once.

8. Flexibility

In every industry, especially during a time like the pandemic, unforeseen setbacks and variables are present. Whether it be a sudden increase or decrease in sales, a budget cut, or an employee’s resignation upsetting the sales, production, and shipping process, having a supplier that can work with these setbacks and changes quickly and intelligently is the best way to keep them from negatively affecting your company and consumer base.

This level of flexibility is seen often in larger suppliers but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a local and more reliable supplier that is capable of being flexible as well. All it takes to find a flexible local supplier is the ability to compare and contrast data across multiple potential supplier candidates.

To do this properly, try utilizing a supply chain management platform focused on data points and matching the best suppliers to companies. With this assistance, you can easily navigate through various suppliers in your area and find the one that has the most flexibility and reliability with ease.

9. Growth Capabilities

As you begin to grow your company, your suppliers must be able to grow alongside you. Having a strong relationship with your suppliers will help in this endeavor but you must also ensure that your suppliers are capable and willing to grow as well. Although this may seem strange to consider that certain suppliers won’t want to change or grow over time, the truth is that small suppliers may enjoy the size and workload of their business in its current state.

Keeping this in mind, your company will want to find suppliers that have the drive to advance with your brand and the network to grow their company alongside your own as products sell and consumer bases expand. This conversation can be had as you communicate your initial wants and needs and goals can be agreed upon for you both to strive for over time.

For instance, if you want to double your sales in the next six months, you will want to communicate this to your supplier so they can prepare for this level of continual growth as well. If the supplier assures you that they can manage this growth, you will then want to analyze the data of your company and theirs over the goal’s time period in order to see if they are actually growing at the same rate as your brand and can keep up with your successes accordingly.

10. Diversity

The final thing to consider when choosing a supplier is whether or not they are an inclusive and diverse option. With diversity becoming a more and more prevalent element of business to business relationships and workplace dynamics, finding a company that embraces this is a great way to stay attune to your modern customer base and support diversity initiatives as well.

Beyond the common sense benefits of working with diverse suppliers, another reason that supporting diverse companies is ideal is because of consumer trends. According to a survey by Adobe, 38% of respondents said they are more likely to consume products and services from brands that show diversity in their ads, and 34% have boycotted a company or brand at least once because they don’t feel their identities were represented in the companies’ advertisements or actions.

By taking this into account in your business practices, you can embrace diverse local suppliers openly and showcase your consideration of your consumers and their expectations of brands they support alike.

All in all, finding the right supplier in this current supply chain market may often feel like finding ‘the one’ on a dating app but, with the right considerations being made from the start, you can ‘swipe left’ on inadequate suppliers and discover your perfect match in no time.

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Stimulus, Inc.

Stimulus, a relationship intelligence software that helps companies build more valuable vendor and supplier relationships.