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Top 7 Ways to Build and Maintain Strong Vendor Relationships
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Building Strong Vendor Relationships
To be a successful Amazon seller, you need to offer the right products. To carry great inventory, you need to create and maintain relationships with credible, experienced suppliers.
This is no easy task because solid connections are built slowly — one deal at a time. What can you do to ensure lasting positive business relationships with your vendors? Here are our top seven tips for sellers:
The first step to nurturing an effective business relationship is by establishing and maintaining a connection. This means that you should be in touch with vendors regularly. If at all possible, meet in person at your office so that vendors can get a better feel for your business, and visit their offices as well. Share your goals with vendors and ask how they can help achieve those goals. A good e-commerce supplier will likely be able to offer some sound business advice and suggestions.
In addition, you should maintain communication, even when problems arise. For example, let vendors know if their products have received poor reviews so that they can be given the chance to address any issues. The more you make an effort to work together, the more likely vendors will stick with you during challenging times. Make sure both sides understand what their roles and responsibilities are — only then can you take a relationship from a discussion and grow it into a long-term partnership. Respect what each of you bring to the table and leverage those qualities to propel both of your businesses to the next level of growth.
2. Pay Promptly
You will be far more likely to build trust with vendors if you respect the conditions that they have set. Be sure to consistently pay your bills fully and on time, so that your suppliers see that you are a reliable customer. Sticking to their rules means that if you ever need a favor from them in the future — for example, a rush order or different payment terms — they will be more likely to help you out.
3. Provide Lead Time
Keep your vendors in the loop by informing them early on about new business goals and special promotions. Doing so gives them the opportunity to suggest appropriate inventory for you and to prepare for larger orders. In addition, giving vendors an adequate amount of lead time helps ensure that you remain in stock at all times, which improves your chances of winning the Buy Box.
A platform like Feedvisor can provide information about which products need to be replenished and when, allowing you to give an early heads up to your suppliers. Keeping your vendors current demonstrates that you value your relationship with them and want to work better together.
4. Refer Your Vendor to Colleagues
Finally, if you have the good fortune to work with an excellent vendor, be sure to refer him or her to other businesses. Doing so is one of the best ways to show your gratitude for a job well done. Suppliers will appreciate this gesture and will stay even more loyal to your own Amazon business as a result.
Managing Strong Vendor Relationships
Once you have established a productive relationship with your supplier, you need to know how to maintain the relationship and ensure you are receiving value on an ongoing basis. In the constantly changing environment of an e-commerce platform such as Amazon, you must understand how to effectively manage your supplier relationships.
5. Always Under Promise and Over Deliver
When you talk with brands about their needs, make sure that you are setting up realistic goals and expectations for both yourself and the brand you are working with. Often, you only will get one shot to prove your value and experience, so rather than cater to every want and need of a vendor, identify a few key, actionable items or areas that you can truly excel at. Take those few areas, knock them out of the park, and go over the top. It’s always best to do more vs. fall short.
6. Understand the Power of No
As partners look to secure opportunities and deals, we often find ourselves saying yes to everything. This is setting yourself up for guaranteed failure. If a supplier asks you if you have the capability of doing something that you truly know you cannot achieve, say no! It all goes back to being honest and never overpromising your capabilities.
The same thing goes for when you negotiate pricing. We are all business owners that need to make money. If an opportunity is not going to generate enough margin based on the time commitments that it will require of you, don’t be afraid to push back with your reasoning. Keep calm and remain professional of course, but everyone deserves to have their voice and concerns heard. Not every deal will work, and that is okay.
7. Ask for Referrals
Even though there is an endless number of companies that you can approach to do business with, we still live in a very small world. If you are a seller who operates in one or a few specific categories, the chances are high that brand owners in your respective areas know each other. Key contacts shift around to different companies all the time, but it’s very common that they remain in the same industry. Someone may change jobs, but they aren’t losing their network. In fact, they are likely adding to it.
When you have success with a partner of yours, or you know they are happy with the work that you are doing for them, don’t be afraid to ask them to introduce you to other people that they may know. This is also why you want to be very honest with your business and your intentions from the start. While great work often gets rewarded with things like referrals, deceptive practices or poor follow through can damage your reputation faster than you could ever imagine.