How to Monitor and Manage Your Wholesale Suppliers

At first, you may be content your inventory providers have delivered your goods in time. However, as you grow and take on more lines, more employees, or outsource to a fulfillment company, you’ll quickly realize that the arrival of badly marked goods can waste time.

In this column I’ll examine the common problems with wholesale merchandise suppliers, the problems they can cause and how you can go about streamlining your connection with them.

The Problems Inventory Providers Can Lead to

Supplier delivery problems affect considerably more of your company than you probably think. It is not just about them not having the ability to furnish a product. Everything from the time necessary to unpack the box, to the thing being received by the client, can be affected by how effective your suppliers are. Following is a list of the primary areas where your inventory providers could be costing you money.

  • Poorly packed boxes. Takes time to unpack the box when it arrives.
  • Identifying contents. Takes time to work out who sent it, and what should happen to be in the order.
  • Unpacking Issues. Must distinguish and separate each different item from the order.
  • Shortfalls. Must follow on shortfalls, wrong items and organizing returns with the provider.
  • Delays. Staff must follow on delayed orders with clients as a result of above.
  • Customer support Issues. Need to process and cover customer returns due to poor quality, incomplete or badly presented goods.
  • Customer yields. Must process and cover client returns when the wrong item is sent, because of poorly labeled or bar-coded products from the supplier.

The costs can be quite far reaching. Many, particularly those involving the client, will be issues which could be solved or reduced by maintaining more inventory and checking every item you get. This doesn’t address the issue, however. It only wastes time elsewhere in your company and leads to you having money unnecessarily tied up in stock. In virtually every case where companies have successfully operate a”just in time” stock system, it has involved a solid working relationship with those providers. That means getting them to understand your issues and working together to make business better.

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Keep Tabs on the Problems

Each time you have a problem with unpacking an order, write it down in a list together with the provider’s name. After a couple weeks you should have a detailed list of what wastes your time, and your staff’s time. Some common problems are the following.

  • Poor packing. Many different, but similar things — jumbled loose in one huge box — that are not easy to sort.
  • Poor communication. No shipping note, so no means of knowing what is missing or what they had been not able to ship.
  • Bad packaging materials. Packing peanuts/shredded paper which goes all over the floor and you must sweep up.
  • Damaged merchandise. Poorly packed products damaged in transit.
  • Inferior quality. Poor quality items leading to plenty of consumer dissatisfaction and returns.
  • Unidentified items. Products with no markings whatsoever; new employees will be not able to recognize.
  • Inconsistent packaging. A product that could come in various packaging each week, perplexing staff and clients.
  • Bar code mistakes. A number of distinct products with the exact same bar code, allowing mistakes when you come to package an order.

Make Reasonable Requests to Correct Problems

You should be realistic here. Obviously the supplier is not likely to send everything in gold tissue paper just because you requested. But any critical provider should meet your reasonable requests. 1 way to tell if your petition is sensible and likely to be adhered to is to consider if it might apply to other company that they provide and when there would be benefits for the provider. As an example, asking your suppliers to switch to brown paper sheets out of loose fill is very likely to be something all their clients would appreciate, and it might save time and money also.

Adopt a Specification Sheet

In my satisfaction company, we publish a list of prerequisites or provider guidelines for our customers’ use. Most companies do this to guarantee consistency when products are delivered. Some big businesses — Walmart, Amazon — will print a small book on prerequisites, although for the most part they’re little more than common sense.

Creating a guidelines and requirements to your providers will help them. This picture shows the packaging and receiving guidelines for the writer’s fulfillment company.

If a provider fails to meet the specifications, there’s a table of fines which are applied. But practically, these are just implemented where deficiencies have caused delays and inconvenience. As a small company, it is probably your suppliers will no consent to a system of fiscal fines, but it doesn’t keep you from making it known you’re dissatisfied with them every time it happens. You need to point out that if it is causing you problems, it is probably a problem for their other clients and so improving their business processes would be of benefit to everybody.