Guest Column | October 18, 2021

How To Get VIP Treatment From Your Vendors (While Dealing With Supply Chain Issues)

By Stephanie Trovato


As the pandemic continues to pound havoc into the supply chain world, the relationship you have with your vendors has never been more important. It can make a difference in how fast you get your supplies and whether or not you can guarantee delivery. Here are some helpful tips on how to get VIP treatment from your vendors.

Make Payments On Time

If your vendor has had to chase a previous payment, then chances are you might not be top of their list when it comes to priority customers. Is your invoice approval workflow as streamlined and efficient as possible? If the answer is no, then any unnecessary delays can hurt your relationships with your vendors.

Invoice approval can take time; anywhere from 15 to 20 days is around average. If you’re still dealing with paper invoices, then the stages of approval contain plenty of possibilities for delays, including inputting the invoice, awaiting approval from the correct person, and then adding the paper invoice to the pile of outstanding payments.

Instead of this convoluted process, using an automated invoice approval workflow can drastically cut the amount of time it takes for your vendor’s invoices to be paid. If one thing will get you on the fast-track to VIP treatment, making payments on time is it.

Make Strong Relationships A Priority

Foster a sense of connection by making your relationship with any points of contact within your supply chain a priority. This can help to encourage collaboration and means you’re more likely to find out about any issues within your supply chain before others. Ideally, you want to exchange information about your forecasted demand and any logistics issues that could impact the supply chain in terms of procurement and delivery.

Think about your relationship with your vendor as something that needs to be actively managed. Your vendor may well have ideas and suggestions that could make your supply chain work more efficiently, so don’t be afraid to ask them for their input. Supply chains aren’t just a one-way process, so by letting your point of contact know you’re open to innovation and respect their opinion, you’ll optimize your chances of growing and maintaining a successful working relationship.

Keep On Top Of Inventory Management

Managing inventory, especially if you’re selling across multiple channels, can become more challenging as you scale your business. If you don’t have an efficient system, you run the risk of not accurately tracking your inventory across your supply chain. The last thing your vendors want is a panicked phone call or rush order because you haven’t got enough stock on hand to meet demand.

Increase your inventory management efficiency by investing in software that does all the hard work for you. Some software helps you track your entire inventory, from raw materials to the finished product. Others forecast inventory levels and real-time alerts to notify you if stock is either running low or if specific items are overstocked.

Internal oversights are a common issue when it comes to everything from inventory management to accounting controls. It’s important to segregate duties and responsibilities for your team to keep the entire business flow running smoothly. This delegation will allow for anyone to pick up any part of the cycle and understand exactly what needs to be done and where you are in the production process.

Having a clearer idea of exactly where your stock is at any given moment makes it easier than ever before for you to manage your supply chain. Given that many vendors are facing challenges from COVID-19 combined with rising shipping costs and climate emergencies, anticipating demand, and making timely orders with your vendors will help keep you in their good books.

Use Automation Tools Wisely

Carefully choosing a selection of automation tools can help free up time for you and your team to focus on supply chain issues.

Email marketing is a great way to reach both new and existing customers, but this can take a long time if you’re doing everything manually. Instead, switching to a marketing automation tool can help free up valuable time. Depending on which marketing automation tool you choose, these can offer anything from simple email segmentation to an all-in-one content management system.

Plan ahead and keep vendors in the loop

With any business, success often lies in being proactive rather than reactive. As you look to foster the best possible relationships with your vendors, consider how you can plan to keep your supply chain as reliable as possible. The recent pandemic changed the face of commerce, with the explosion in eCommerce sales over 2021 not expected to slow down anytime soon. This rise in sales may mean your vendors are trying to meet increased demand, so 

With experts warning us to expect economic challenges all the way through to 2023, considering how to protect your supply of goods is critical. The prices of many materials continue to rise, so it makes sense to keep a close eye on the materials and commodities that have the potential to impact the costs of your raw materials. Prices within your supply chain may rise as a result, so by knowing where and when to expect these rises; you can consider how you may need to adjust your prices accordingly.

On Track For VIP Treatment

Start implementing all the above tips, from making payments on time to paying close attention to your inventory, and you’ll be on track to becoming one of your vendor’s favorite customers. Putting the time and effort into fostering a collaborative relationship with your vendors means you can look forward to a reliable supply chain, even when there are issues to deal with along the way.

About The Author

Stephanie fills her days with content creation and marketing strategy for publications in tech, SaaS, and ecommerce spaces. She also works marketing strategy as a freelancer with Optimist, while balancing duties as a Content Strategist for EverCommerce. She is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology and is based in New York.