Choosing a supplier

This is an important consideration as your supplier could have a big impact on the reputation of your business.

Choosing a supplier is much more than who is the cheapest. Your choice should also take into consideration the potential relationship, good and open communication, delivery, flexibility, quality, reliability, value for money, their history, their financial security and service, especially the after sales service. So for example, if you want to deliver to your customers within a few days, then your supplier may offer you quick, reliable delivery rather than the lowest price. So know what factors are important for your business before you start your search for the supplier. 

You will also have to consider the number of suppliers that you have. A small number is easier to manage and you may be able to combine deliveries. However can you afford to just rely on just a few? Ideally you are looking for suppliers that want to work with you for the benefit of both parties.

If you do not know where to find your suppliers, then before simply making an internet search, ask your contacts for any recommendations, review any trade press or look up any trade directories and establish who your competitors may be using.

Once you have decided upon your supplier, then request a meeting and advise them of your expectations to agree any service levels in advance. It will also be an opportunity to utilise their expertise and receive some guidance on orders. Start to build a relationship with the supplier that will benefit you in the future.

If you need to import your goods, then we recommend you seek specific specialist advice to consider the countries you are importing from, the payment terms and how to control the quality.

Most suppliers will want you to enter into a contract or provide you with their terms and conditions. Please ensure you read and understand the small print, especially relating to any notice periods for stopping their supply.