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The Secrets to Supplier Engagement

Little things can make me very happy. Some of which many may consider strange…

Last week, I Googled ‘What is Supplier Engagement?’, curious to find where S4RB’s material would place within the search rankings. To my delight, Google presented me with a beautiful box filled with the following definition straight from the offices of S4RB:












And that’s where we begin today’s blog. What actually is Supplier Engagement? As the caption above states, Supplier Engagement is the level of commitment a supplier has to your brand, your values and your goals. Or to put it another way…

Suppliers caring about what you care about

So. What do you care about?

  • Specifications being completed to a high standard?
  • Suppliers adhering to and continuously improving against your Ethical Sourcing standards?
  • High levels of innovation and collaboration by your suppliers?

Whatever your role within retail, suppliers need to care about your brand, your values and your goals. This is because whether or not they care will affect how they prioritise your task or request. And priority will ultimately influence the timeliness and quality of the work that they do for you. Therefore, Supplier Engagement is important to you.

Let’s just quickly remind ourselves, your suppliers have a whole business to run – they are very busy people. And although retailers are the people who pay the bills, it’s very easy to lose that perspective when you’ve got a million and two things to do that day - particularly for those with less commercial exposure. I strongly believe that the key is to get them engaged – make them care about what you’re trying to achieve. Bring them on the journey with you as a passenger and not a prisoner. But how do we actually get them to care? After all, some of these topics aren’t the most exciting.

It’s all about Motivation and Understanding

The secret to Supplier Engagement is motivation and understanding. As the diagram below shows: motivate suppliers and they will complete it quickly. Grow their understanding and they will complete it to a high standard.

Understanding vs. Motivation v2








S4RB’s work with leading retailers has identified that there are three key things which drive motivation and understanding and in turn ensure the successful engagement of your suppliers:

  • Communications
  • Support
  • Transparency

Get these right and the benefits are improved speed and accuracy to those important every-day interactions with your suppliers.

Next week I kick off the ‘Supplier Communication 101’ blog series. The five-blog series will explore the ins and outs of communicating with suppliers through email and help you relieve the burden of supplier administration through effective and efficient communication.

Tags: Supplier engagement

David Taylor

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