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10 Key Considerations When Choosing a Supplier

kokou adzo

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Chances are, your business is going to need a wide variety of different suppliers to give you the materials and products necessary to remain in operation. The quality and consistency of your suppliers can make or break your operation. With better suppliers, you can make better products and improve customer satisfaction, but even a single bad supplier can completely unravel your business.

What are the most important considerations to bear in mind when looking for a new supplier?

Key Considerations When Choosing a Supplier

These are some of the most important considerations when shopping around for a supplier:

  1.   Product/service selection. First, you’ll need to think about the products and services available to you from this supplier. Your business has core product and service needs, so you need to find a supplier who can fill those needs. This is probably the easiest consideration to account for, since you’ll be able to quickly rule out any supplier who isn’t able to give you what you need. Just keep in mind that how you define your needs will play a role in how you evaluate each offering.
  2.   Product/service quality. Next, you’ll need to think about product and service quality. If you’re looking for pump products for applications like petroleum refining and gas processing, you need to make sure those pumps are suitable for your applications – and are highly reliable. Depending on what you’re looking for, you may be able to see a sample product, undergo a free trial, or simply investigate to gauge the quality of the products and services you’re considering.
  3.   Qualifications and expertise. After that, look into the qualifications and expertise of this supplier. How long has this supplier been in business? How many other businesses do they serve and what are those businesses like? Is this organization properly certified and are they compliant with all laws and regulations relevant to your organization? Have they won any awards or other types of formal recognition for their work?
  4.   Customer experience and satisfaction. Always pay attention to customer experience and satisfaction, however you can. That could mean examining customer reviews, interviewing previous customers, or some combination of other strategies. The more you can learn about this company’s reputation among customers, the better.
  5.   Capacity/scalability. If your business processes a high volume of orders, or if you plan on scaling in the future, you’ll need to think about capacity and scalability. There’s a chance that a supplier that seems like an excellent fit can’t serve you simply because they can’t keep up with your demand. There’s also a chance that your supplier won’t be able to grow with you as your volume increases. You’ll need to account for these possibilities in your search.
  6.   Communication. Good suppliers are good communication partners. They’re easy to reach, they’re open, they’re fully transparent, and they can work with you to resolve most conflicts quite easily. If you encounter any communication difficulties at the beginning of your relationship, it doesn’t bode well for a future relationship.
  7.   Consistency and reliability. Some suppliers put their best foot forward when talking to prospective clients, but end up dropping the ball when it comes to product and service provision. Accordingly, you should be on the lookout for partners who have an impressive track record for consistency and reliability. In other words, will this supplier be able to fulfill their end of the deal?
  8.   Commitment to privacy and security. In some arrangements, it’s important to consider your privacy and security. This is especially important if you’re going to share information between your organization and theirs, or if you’re going to rely on integrated software systems for communication and management. The most important priority here is ensuring that your supplier uses and enforces privacy and security standards that are as high as yours.
  9.   Stability. It’s possible for suppliers to go out of business. When they do, it can cause massive disruptions for their clients. Because of this, it’s important to pay attention to the financial and logistical stability of this organization. It’s also important to have some backup plan ideas; if this supplier does go under, how big of an impact is it going to have on your business? What will you do?
  10.   Price and payment terms. Finally, you’ll need to think about price. If you’re working with a severely restricted budget, certain supplier options will be off the table. Even if you’re more flexible, price should be a differentiating factor if you’re torn between otherwise similar supplier options. Your goal isn’t necessarily to choose the supplier with the lowest price; you should choose a supplier with the highest value relative to their price. It may also be valuable to explore payment terms with each supplier you consider.

Making the Final Decision

One of the biggest final hurdles to overcome is making the final decision, which can be difficult if you have multiple viable candidates on the docket. If you’re torn between two choices, consider quantifying your most important variables to whatever extent you can. If you can reduce this to a numbers game and set your highest priorities, you should be able to objectively measure which supplier candidate is superior. Failing that, and assuming you’ve already done all your due diligence, go with your gut.

 

Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of Startup.info. He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at Startup.info.

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