As a retailer, you want to be the customer of choice for your suppliers. One of the most effective ways to become the customer of choice is through building strong, personal relationships with the people who work for your suppliers.
But working face-to-face can be costly, impractical and logistically complex.
So how do we:
- Manage expectations and share information in a cost effective yet personable way?
- Effectively gain buy-in for organizational changes and the new direction we are going in?
- Even know that suppliers are listening?
At S4RB, we help private brand retailer teams increase the likelihood that they will become the customer of choice for all, not just strategic, suppliers in a cost effective way.
We do this by helping retailers to grow supplier engagement. In turn, this helps deliver high-quality and competitive private label products.
So, how can you become the customer of choice for suppliers?
Here are four different methods employed at S4RB:
- Supplier summits
Face-to-face supplier summits are great, but can be very costly for both the retailer and client. So why not hold a virtual supplier summit using a webinar or video?
This saves both the retailer and supplier money and allows more suppliers to attend. The suppliers will also have the ability to watch it back 24/7, so it does not matter what time zone they are in. Also, it is all trackable. We provide our clients with a report to show which suppliers are engaged.
- Video communications
Got an important initiative or company commitment coming up? Let suppliers know what your expectations are by using simple, fast and effective video messaging from the key stakeholders.
This helps make suppliers feel they are important part of your business and again they can view the messages 24/7. As with webinars, we have the ability to ensure suppliers confirm that they have watched and understood the expectations set forth in the message, which allows the retailer to hold the supplier accountable. Communicating over video helps to build the relationship between the retailer and supplier.
Providing training and frequently asked questions for your initiative through e-learning helps reduce the amount of physical resources needed, which in turn reduces cost and also time while making the objectives of the initiative clear, simple to achieve, and consistent.
- Transparency and performance dashboards
It’s important to show suppliers that you are tuned into their business and want to help them become that supplier of choice while at the same time, giving back to them and becoming their customer of choice.
Being transparent is key in achieving this. You can be transparent by providing performance dashboards accessible by both you the retailer and by the supplier. These dashboards will show the retailer which suppliers are engaged, who is trained, how their products are performing, and what customers think about the products. Suppliers can also see this information, and the dashboard can also allow suppliers to easily see if they have the right contacts set up and what products may have a specification incomplete, even down to what field in the specification is incomplete. With this tool the supplier can act quickly to resolve any incorrect data.
When both the retailer and supplier work together as one team, we call this a Unified Brand Experience (UBX). This way of working allows quick reaction to any quality issues or customer enquiries and closes the loop between all parties so the retailer and supplier can maintain the customer relationship and improve quality to gain more sales.
Becoming the customer of choice
To sum up: to become or striving to be the customer of choice for your suppliers involves clear communication to let them know you are listening. Using the virtual ways of working above and providing visual management can help you to build that relationship with your suppliers that is so needed in the world today.