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Why It’s Important to Have Multiple Suppliers—And How to Evaluate Them

We’ve all worked hard to establish relationships with suppliers. When you find one who is always on the same page, who always meets your needs, you might see little reason to change. But the past two years have called these traditional relationships into question.

Ongoing COVID outbreaks, material and labor shortages at all points in the supply chain, bottlenecks at ports, and soaring fuel prices have all put immense strain on the supply chain, while inflation has made demand more difficult to predict. Once reliable deliveries, through no fault of your trusted supplier, become irregular and unpredictable. Or maybe your current supplier just doesn’t have the exact diamond your customer wants.

Who knows what new developments are waiting around the corner to disrupt the flow of your business. In today’s changing landscape, it’s important to be open to creating new supplier relationships. Here are some things to consider when you’re considering a new supplier.

Pictures and Video

Have you ever bought something without looking at it first? Ideally, you’d want to visit a prospective supplier’s location and see how they work and check the quality of their products for yourself. High-quality pictures, and lots of them, are the next best thing. Does the supplier have a complete catalog online or available by request? Do they have pictures of their products on their website or elsewhere online? You want to get a good idea of what they have to offer. Hi-res images and videos are the best way to get that information.

Inventory Count

A supplier should be able to give you information about their inventory: what they have in stock, how quickly they can restock, where their inventory is located, and so on. You’ll want to know if they manage inventory counts with an integrated system or through manual counts and spreadsheets. Integrated systems will ensure more accurate counts.

Responsiveness

We’ve all heard stories about rock stars making bizarre rider requests, like stocking the refrigerator with exactly 21 cans of Coca-Cola. These aren’t the caprices of out-of-touch celebrities but tests for the staff of the venue: how closely are they paying attention? What are they willing to do to satisfy their client (in this case, the band)? If they can’t be trusted to follow our instructions exactly, can we trust them to keep our fans and our gear safe?

Test out new suppliers’ commitment to customer service in the same way. While you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, you can still put in a request or ask some questions about their products and note how long it takes to get a response and what kind of response you get. You might need fast, 24-hour support, and a supplier should be able to demonstrate that they can meet that need. A supplier who is slow to respond might not act with the necessary urgency in important situations.

Return and Memo Policies

Cost isn’t everything when considering a supplier. A low-cost supplier with restrictive or vague return and memo policies can end up costing you more money in the long run and leave your customers frustrated and unsatisfied.

Simplifying the Search for Suppliers

Suddenly needing a new supplier can leave you in the lurch. Finding a replacement, or a supplement to what you already have, is a demanding task, with a lot of boxes to check. In today’s hyper-competitive world, you can’t afford to settle for compromise choices because you don’t have the supplier relationships you need. That is why you have a platform like VDB: to allow you to evaluate prospective suppliers, and to do it with ease and confidence, on a platform where all of the necessary information is accessible and clearly presented. Quick response time, rich visual search, and in-app communications make the search for a supplier easier than ever.