How to strengthen your supplier relationships

Building and maintaining great supplier relationships is a must, particularly in this time of uncertainty. Here are some ideas to achieve this.

Think of your suppliers as partners rather than just mere vendors - This may not apply to all your suppliers, but in some cases, it helps to think of vendors as partners that you work with, rather than third parties who simply provide products and services. Adopting a ‘partnership mindset’ can help you strengthen your relationships, so you can work better together.

Review your agreements – if need be, look to revise these and don't over-rely on boilerplate contracts. Make sure your agreements are tailored to each vendor. This requires some upfront work, but it will help you maintain a smooth relationship.

Talk to suppliers even when you don’t need to negotiate - Check in with your suppliers regularly, even if you're not placing orders or negotiating a contract. Discuss the current state of the industry and talk about any priorities, plans, launches, etc. During these informal conversations, your vendors will likely be more relaxed and share information more freely.

Invest in product forecasting and share data - This will help keep you and your suppliers on the same page when it comes to inventory management and allow you both to optimise the ordering and fulfilment process.

Be an excellent client - This sounds obvious, but don’t neglect professional courtesies. Things like adhering to payment terms or discussing upfront any issues with payment, and being polite and friendly can go a long way in nurturing strong supplier relationships.