Building Better B2B Relationships

Dealing with vendors is the ultimate catch-22 for retailers — you can’t live with them, but you can’t live without them. Fortunately the “can’t live with them” part of the equation can be made better. It’s up to you to make the first move and here are two tips for building stronger relationships with your vendors.

Plan for the “What Ifs”

Contingencies are always a good idea. What do you do if an important shipment arrives late? What if an order is incorrect or damaged? What if you’re billed incorrectly? The list of potential vendor challenges is almost endless. You and your vendors should be on the same page with exceptions handling. Work out a plan ahead of time so everybody knows what should happen in the case of a problem. 

Know the Score

Make vendor review a part of the merchandise ordering cycle. An easy and effective way to evaluate the performance of your vendors is with a simple scorecard that enables you to rank your vendors as level A, B and C. These rankings can then help you determine how often you need to inspect and sample product shipments from those vendors: An A-level or “best”-ranked vendor is not going to require the same level of scrutiny as is a B-level vendor.

Schedule a planned vendor-review process to coincide with placing orders for product. It is a great time to review performance and gain commitments for improvement while using the leverage of the purchase order.

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