Building relationships with suppliers: 4 tips for offline retailers

Collaboration between retailers and suppliers is the key to building long-lasting working relationships. While this creed has existed almost as long as the retail industry itself, an honest relationship between retailers and suppliers is even more crucial in today’s demanding consumer-facing industry as shoppers become more in tune with the brands, products and services on offer.

If you’re new to the world of offline retail here are a few tips to get you started off on the right foot with your suppliers.

1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

With consumer confidence rising every year like clockwork, bricks and mortar stores can’t afford to be anything but respectful to their in-demand suppliers. For offline retailers looking for decent products, it’s a case of don’t call us; we’ll call you when dealing with popular brands and marketable suppliers – remember they don’t need your business, you need theirs.

If their products are half decent, chances are your suppliers already have many other vendors giving them good business and don’t have the time or the need to deal with fussy or disrespectful retailers. Respect is key. You’ve been warned.

2. Develop trust

Trust and respect go hand in hand when trying to climb the supplier-relationship ladder. It may sound shallow, but there exists a hierarchy ladder in the world of retailers and suppliers, in that many newcomers to the industry (aka new retailers getting their feet through the door) are often cast to the bottom of the ladder as an unwanted business.

Don’t fret; there are ways to climb the ladder, starting with respect and trust. Once you’ve shown a decent level of respect, build on this by becoming trustworthy with your business comings and goings. By this, we mean always paying on time, giving favourable lead times, being honest and always keeping your suppliers in the loop.

3. Keep an open line of communication

Communication is key to any successful relationship, and the relationship between retailers and suppliers is no exception.

Talk to your supplier about methods of communication that will work for both of you. Do you work best over email? Or are shared Google Docs a more efficient way of keeping each other in the loop? It may help to set up a shared account on messaging platforms like Slack or Dapulse.

Once you have your systems in place, be sure to keep your supplier in the loop. It’s important to notify them of upcoming sales in which you may need more stock, and they will return the favour by making you aware of delayed deliveries etc.

4. Seek their advice

Developing a healthy working relationship with your suppliers isn’t just about ordering stock and paying invoices. Remember, suppliers have been in the retail business for a long time and can share a great deal of shopper and product advice with you.

If your sales numbers have started to drop and your shop isn’t as busy as it once was, talk to your suppliers. They may be able to share some insights on trending products or give you advice on the best marketing tactics for your store.

Suppliers are generally more than happy to share their catalogue images with retailers as well as their visual merchandising manuals. Reach out to your supplier for some marketing material. At the end of the day, it’s going to benefit both parties!

With great supplier relationships you’ll be able to manage inventory levels better and foresee any issues with stock. When it comes to moving that stock, you need to get the right shopper in-store. Booodl can help: Register today to start increasing shopper visits and sales for your retail store.

This was originally posted on the Booodl microsite Store Discovery Optimisation.


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