3 Ways to Improve Your Supplier Relationship

3 Ways to Improve Your Supplier Relationship


The buyer-supplier relationship can be tenuous at times because so much depends on performance. Boost your supplier relationship and your performance.

Communication Is Key

As a buyer for manufacturing, your product development and assembly are completely dependent upon your suppliers. Those parts, however small, must be delivered on time with the exact specifications in order for you to bring products to market and/or make good on your commitments to your customers. The stronger your relationship with your suppliers, the better.

One of the biggest challenges to the buyer-supplier relationship is communication. Communication is critical in any relationship, personal or professional.

If you’re like many buyers, most of the communication with your supplier is done through emails, phone calls, texts and faxes. While these technologies might get the job done, there is plenty of room for errors, missed PO acknowledgments, and miscommunication. Every hiccup risks the buyer-supplier relationship.

Related: Can Your Company Survive without Communication?

The main issue is that typically, buyers use their own system and suppliers use another – none of which are integrated. Both parties are depending on the other to be organized, thorough and on top of every order. What if a key contact goes on vacation or leaves the company? Did all of the POs get picked up by someone else? Is that new person as competent and acknowledging your POs quickly?

How can buyers and suppliers fortify their relationships so they both have confidence in the methodical processes that need to occur for both parties to be successful? Here are three ways buyers can lead the change to get everyone on the same page without all of the headaches.

  1. Invest in automated PO management software
    Building a relationship with your supplier may not involve face time but it should always involve collaboration. Emails and all of the other mentioned communication techniques create more work than they are worth, particularly in light of the modern technology available that seamlessly connect buyers with suppliers in one interface.

    Automated PO management software not only automates the majority of the PO process, but it creates an ideal collaboration environment where every interaction is documented, archived and available for both parties – all in one place. Both buyers and suppliers can follow a conversation, a PO or a part from beginning to end in as little as a single click. There is never ambiguity about who is supposed to be doing what and when. Alerts, notifications and even color-coded flags ensure nothing gets missed again.

  1. Offer your suppliers free access to your PO management software
    Everyone likes free things, especially when they bring dramatic value. With SourceDay, buyers invest in the software and then offer free access to their suppliers. Without investing a single penny of their capital, suppliers can leverage all of the benefits the automated PO management software brings, including fully-integrated communication and collaboration capabilities with their customers.

    The beauty of this model is that it fosters trust while also bringing instant efficiencies to both parties, syncing them into a rhythm of order requests and order fulfillment. It ensures buyers aren’t modernizing their PO management processes while their suppliers are left in the dark ages. It practically guarantees buyers receive their parts faster and with fewer errors, justifying their investment in the software. Buyers and suppliers improve their customer satisfaction, their delivery capabilities and their revenue. It truly is a win-win.

  1. Give Your Suppliers Feedback
    If your suppliers care at all about their service, they want to know how they’re doing. They don’t want to lose your business and most will go to great lengths to gain your loyalty. Sharing with them the good and the bad as far as their performance is a great way to show them you are in it for the long haul and want to see them succeed.

    Embedded in the SourceDay software is a quality system that tracks the incoming inspection of supplier materials to determine if specifications are met. If the materials fail inspection, suppliers are quickly notified through the platform and the failing materials are quickly dispositioned. Once the material and corresponding purchase order is rectified, buyers can score the interaction, giving suppliers incentive to take care of the problem quickly in order to raise their scores. No nasty phone calls or emails, just a simple and pleasant way to collaborate.

No relationship is perfect, but when both parties can speak the same language, the relationship will be stronger. Communication is a two-way street. Give your suppliers the tools they need to better communicate with you so you can better communicate with them. Don’t fear their hesitation to use a new system. We find suppliers are generally willing, if not excited, to try something that makes their lives easier, too. Show them the benefits and how it will help you both be better at what you do.