A tale of 2 Providers

The attitude of some providers amazes me. Recently, we’ve been going to trade shows to find new products. We’ve been on the lookout for quality, market providers that have higher-value goods, to raise our average margins and sale.

In the trade shows, there were two kinds of suppliers. There were those that spotted us in their stand and made us welcome. They offered us coffee and took the opportunity to demonstrate their goods. They listened to us and tried to understand our requirements.

Then there were suppliers which were too busy to look up from their telephones, to participate with us or anybody else.

Usually, I do business only with suppliers that show an interest. This season, however, I had been convinced to bend my own rule.

At Spring Fair, a U.K.-based occasion for retail buyers, we discovered two new providers. One offered lovely Disney figures and another provided Harry Potter wands. The Disney provider was composed; the Harry Potter provider less so.

Since that time, in the past two months, we’ve ordered three times from the Disney provider. The goods arrived the next day every time. 1 thing was chipped so we asked for a replacement. The agent apologized for the flaw and advised us that the company was out of inventory for this product. However, she visited another of her merchant clients and picked up one of those figures and delivered it two days later. It was outstanding customer services.

We’ve ordered once from the Harry Potter supplier. 1 thing from the order had a small chip, so we asked for a replacement. The business’s first reaction was that it wasn’t chipped enough to warrant a replacement. We disagreed. The next response was grudgingly agreeing replace it.

Then, the following day, the company stated it would replace the batter only as it delivers our next order, which we hadn’t placed. It was a startling difference in mindset from the Disney supplier.

I don’t know suppliers that treat their retailers badly. It can’t be good for business. Some suppliers appear to think it is good practice to play hardball with their clients. But a fantastic retailer knows it is far better to keep a customer happy, for repeat sales.

When we have a unhappy customer, we examine the problem from her point of view and attempt to locate a solution that’s not only acceptable, but outstanding. Some clients are impossible to please — you need to know when to cut your losses. But most are worth investing to maintain. A happy customer is a repeat customer — one who may well urge others to you. An unhappy customer won’t order again and may also tell other people to avoid you.

It’s the same for the relationship between retailers and their suppliers. We’re the clients here, and we must be treated in precisely the exact same manner as we treat our own clients. After all, if we promote a product using a hidden defect, we must stand by it and replace it if the customer complains. We would naturally expect the provider to back us up.

This is the reason I was wrong to permit an exception to my rule of conducting business only with suppliers that show an interest in us. The Harry Potter provider showed little interest in us at Spring Fair. If this provider is tough regarding replacements when we received the delivery, I can’t imagine it’ll get easier resolving issues in the coming weeks.

To put it differently, delivering outstanding service to your clients starts with demanding outstanding service from your suppliers. For my company, we’ll be seeking alternative suppliers of Harry Potter figures.