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    1. SEONewbie is offline

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      #1

      Your Thoughts On Supplier Relationships?

      I was wondering if we could all weigh in on the topic of supplier relationships. I've been researching and working on finding a good set of suppliers for my business. And a big part of my plan was to work at nurturing and building relationships with wholesale suppliers that worked really well for me.

      But a dropshipper friend of mine thinks relationship building is a waste of time. He thinks that sticking to the same set of suppliers can really inhibit your buying power. He goes through suppliers pretty quickly and he doesn't see anything wrong with this. Given his product, he's in a place where if one supplier doesn't work out, he can find another supplier prettily easily. So what do you guys think? Is it worth investing the time and effort to build supplier relationships?
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    2. DropshipDiva is offline

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      #2
      I'm a big fan of supplier relationships and think they're super important. But I'm going to throw a wrench in the works here and say that I understand where your friend is coming from. His product seems to be dynamic and robust enough to keep him supplied with suppliers, and in that sense he's real lucky. How long that luck will last is anybody's guess. Maybe later he'll wish he'd worked on his supplier relationships a little more.

      But I think maybe there's a bit of frustration coming from his side that's understandable. Suppliers will always want to work with big customers, not small fry like us. Building relationships can literally take years. And naturally, nobody wants to get tied down to a supplier that's not giving you truly competitive pricing. This is why I think it's really important to keep looking for new suppliers, try new folks out. At the same time, you should nurture relationships that are working well for you. Takes a bit of both actually.
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    3. SteelyDan65 is offline

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      #3
      I can appreciate that Diva manages to see your friend's point of view but personally, he sounds mighty foolhardy to me. Supplier relationships are incredibly important, I just can't stress this enough. Whether it's a dropshipping business or just ordinary wholesale, a large part of your business needs to be spent networking and growing with suppliers that work well for you. For me personally, this is as important to me as my customer care.

      That being said, I think it's important to remember that a big part of working on supplier relationships is also knowing when one isn't working. It's also about knowing when to cut down or completely cut off suppliers that aren't doing it for you. It's not all about sending around holiday hampers come Christmas.

    4. ShaneM is offline

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      Guys, I'm pretty much bottom of the food chain when it comes to suppliers and I know this. I try damn hard to find good pricing and find suppliers that I feel would work well for me in the future. But like Diva said, a lot of them just aren't interested in working with small fry! And it's frustrating! I've been working with one supplier for over a year and I know he's not giving me his best pricing. Do I keep at it? Will things change? Should I look elsewhere?

      I don't want to knock the importance of supplier relationships here. Just saying that it can be frustrating to get your foot in the door sometimes, that's all.

    5. BaiLing76 is offline

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      #5
      Shane, I understand your frustration. You need to keep at it AND look elsewhere. It took me years to build solid relationships with my best suppliers. Now I even have my own account managers with a couple of them but I had to work really hard for YEARS to get there.

      But you have to keep looking out as well. I am constantly on the lookout for fresh suppliers and I will give them a go. But if they don't work out for me, I drop them pretty quick and move on. Takes practice. I certainly got burned more times than I care to remember. But the more you get out there and test different suppliers, the more you'll get a feel of what will work and what won't.

    6. SEONewbie is offline

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      #6
      Hmmm. I really get where Shane's frustration is coming from. Which brings me to the very vague question of how can you test and find out whether a supplier is going to work or not? How can you tell which supplier relationships are worth building on?

    7. DropshipDiva is offline

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      #7
      I think you'll end up finding your own rules as you go along but these are some tips that I found useful when I was starting out.

      • Be realistic. As has already been stated, a supplier is probably not that interested in doing business with smaller businesses when compared to bigger ones. So that means on your first few trials, you're not going to get the most competitive pricing. The more business you do, the better pricing you'll get. That's how it works. So don't expect great pricing right at the beginning.

      • Understand your place. Like it or not, you have a place on the distribution chain and that plays a huge role in how your supplier will approach your business. Don't expect to get the same kind of treatment as a big distributor. You need to work to earn a supplier's respect.

      • Be honest. Don't go in there saying you're planning on ordering a boatload of stuff and not follow up on it. That's one of the worst things you can do. Always be honest with your supplier about what you want.

      • Rinse. Repeat. By that I mean that if you had a good experience with a supplier's product, use them again. Repeat business means a lot to suppliers. They are more keen on working with people who give them repeat business than those who make huge, one-off orders.

      • Learn to negotiate. The best supplier in the world is not going to work for you if you don't know how to negotiate effectively.

    8. BaiLing76 is offline

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      #8
      That's a great list Diva. I'd like to add a few points of my own about supplier relationships. I guess most of these points are about how to make sure your supplier relationship stays on the right track.

      • If you're thinking of branching out and your supplier offers different products, try them out. Expanding your business with an existing supplier is not only a whole lot easier, it can be great for strengthening existing ties

      • Don't get carried away by the 'discount' part of it. Remember that a great discount isn't going to make much of a difference if your supplier isn't giving you good basic prices

      • Keep talking to your suppliers on a regular basis. By that I mean, maintain a dialogue. Talk about what you plan on doing, how the supplier may help, possible price negotiations. An involved and active business is something any supplier will want to bank on because if you make money, so do they!

    9. SteelyDan65 is offline

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      #9
      A few more.

      • Make sure you're working with the right supplier. No brainer, right? But I'm always surprised at how many people end up in bad supplier relationships simply because they have hooked up with the wrong supplier! If you only want to buy a few pieces at a time, don't look at wholesalers who only sell in bulk! If you're looking for lots of pieces, don't look at retailer suppliers! Making sure you're working with the right supplier is very important.

      • Review your suppliers on a regular basis. If you find a dip in quality or slow delivery times, draw attention to it. If you feel nothing is being done to rectify this, you need to find another supplier. Supplier relationships are as much about weeding out the bad ones as keeping the good ones.

      • I think someone already mentioned the regular business vs one-time sale for the supplier. Suppliers prefer people who will keep coming back. They aren't going to be able to maintain their business if they have to rely on a few big orders every once in a while. You need to show your supplier that you are interested in the long term.

    10. ShaneM is offline

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      #10
      All of this makes sense but I'm wondering what are the real benefits of supplier relationships? Apart from the discounts, are there other benefits?

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