One of the first decisions to be taken throughout the development of a business is to work with the proper supplier. Suppliers are one of the most crucial aspects of the business since they ensure that our goods arrives on time, is priced right, and meets the quality standards we set for ourselves.
What the word supplier means and types of suppliers
Broadly speaking, a supplier is a person or company that provides products or services to another person or company. There are many types of suppliers, but we mainly highlight the following:
A manufacturer is a company that manufactures a product and markets it directly to the end customer, the wholesaler, or a retailer. Mostly, manufacturers tend to sell only for minimum order quantities, although there are others that you can buy the desired quantity regardless of whether it is a lot or a little. But usually, because there is a minimum order, a significant financial investment is needed to buy from manufacturers, but this also means that a cost per product can be purchased at a lower price than if it were purchased on a unit basis.
Wholesale and retail
A wholesaler or retailer buys directly from the manufacturer in large units and at low prices, and resells them to the end consumer in a few units and at higher prices, thus earning the remaining profit between the selling price and the purchase price.
How to find the right supplier
In the past, searching for suppliers was complicated, but that changed with the advent of digitalization. Nowadays, the fastest way to search for suppliers is by using the most famous search engine on the Internet, Google, where there are thousands of supplier websites. In Google we can search and find any type of supplier related to any type of product. It is as easy as entering the name of the supplier we need and going through page by page until we find it. Many, in addition, have a specialized website, so we can visit their website to learn more in detail about how they are and their activity, to make sure if they adapt to our needs.
However, the problem with Google is that we find websites from all over the world, and we do not know which are reliable and which are not, nor do we often know if the providers there meet certain quality standards or not. In this sense, we must be careful, since there are a lot of Chinese suppliers that can end up damaging the reputation of our brand. Therefore, another alternative to look for suppliers is through trade fairs. Trade fairs are events that are usually held only once a year. All the major companies in the world attend different trade fairs every year, as they are places where thousands of people come together in search of products and suppliers, and it is a very good way to make themselves known and generate publicity. There are two types of trade fairs, physical or traditional trade fairs, and online trade fairs:
· Physical trade fair: Also called as traditional trade fairs, they are the trade fairs that are organized physically in some premises, industry or any other place, where attendees physically come to see and show their products. It is a good option especially if what we want is to find only suppliers from Spain. They are characterized in that normally it is done only once a year, and it is not repeated until the following year.
· Online trade fair: Like Swintfair, this is a new form of trade fair that has been created as a result of digitalization, and brings attendees together without the need for them to travel to the site in person. They simply connect to the online website and there they can view all the content of interest to them. It is characterized in that, unlike the physical trade fair, these are not made once a year, but you can always visit the web. It is true that at peak times of the year different events can be organized, but that does not mean that during the rest of the year the content of the website cannot be viewed.
Finally, other ways to find suppliers can be through trade magazines, online forums or word of mouth. It should be noted that online forums are very similar to the word-of-mouth technique, since they allow us to ask different users about their knowledge or experiences with other suppliers, and thus be able to know different evaluations that will make us choose one or the other.
How to contact suppliers and what questions to ask
Once we have searched and analyzed the list of suppliers, and we have chosen the one that most closely resembles our needs, we must contact them. There are different ways to contact, either by e-mail, by calling or by going to their facilities if they are nearby. The best way to establish a good customer-supplier relationship is to be honest with what we are looking for, so that they can provide us with an adequate proposal and we can go in search of the best product and the best experience for our company.
Among the different questions we can ask are mainly the following: company background, products they sell, shipping options, customer service, if there is a minimum order, and, last but not least, if there are return or refund policies.
We can also ask to get a sample of the product, because if we do not know it is a good idea to see, touch and really know what the product is like. This way we will be sure about the quality of the product, the shipping and other aspects of the product that the supplier may not have previously told us about. Generally, it is usual to ask for much more expensive prices for the sample, but it is advisable to accept it in order to be more sure of the product that we will possibly end up commercializing later.
It should be noted that having a cordial and lasting relationship with suppliers is an excellent way to maintain the business in the long term. If the supplier adapts to our needs, we should do our best to make both of us happy so that we can work with a future perspective. Companies that constantly change suppliers are more likely to end up damaging the product and the end customer’s perception of it. That is why maintaining a constant relationship with the customer is fundamental for our business.