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By SgT Group - June 26, 2017

Managing apparel supplier relationships can be complicated and sometimes, overly formal. Both parties want what’s best for their business and want to maximize their time, money and resources which can put pressure on the relationship if it isn’t managed carefully. 

But, it’s important to understand that if you want to remain competitive in retail, successful supplier relationships are necessary and will lead to a thriving business.Moreover, taking the time to nurture your relationships with important suppliers, may induce favorable prices, improved availability, generous terms and you may even benefit from the occasional buyback.

Who wouldn’t want to enjoy these types of benefits?

Buyer-supplier relationships are meant to be positive and mutually beneficial, ensuring that both parties’ needs are met at all times. Read on for our 6 useful tips on how to better manage apparel supper relationships for your brand.

1. Determine the Roles and Responsibilities

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From the start, you need to lay out the foundation of the working relationship by understanding which party is responsible for what and clearly understand each other’s roles in the partnership. By having clarity of role description, you establish a strong relationship with your supplier which continuously ensures that both parties are achieving beneficial outcomes through the partnership. Whenever any negotiations or transitions need to be made, it should be done in a manner that reflects the established working relationship.

2. Set Clear and Achievable Goals

Providing clear and achievable goals concerning product and sales estimates will ensure that both parties are working towards a common goal which is mutually advantageous and cost effective. Having goals also allows both sides to remain on track. In some cases, wholesalers need estimates of how many products a retailer expects to sell in a given period of time for them to provide feedback to manufacturers. Here’s where clear goals are necessary.

3. Always Pay On Time

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Although this one may seem obvious, it’s worth a mention. Many manufacturers continuously work on thin margins which make them dependent on your cash flow. By always paying on time, as expected will build trust with your suppliers and earn you thereputation of becoming a valued customer. In some cases, having a good payment history may lead to benefits such better prices or better terms, which means you may be granted a longer time to pay. Wholesalers can track payment history on their customer relationship management software and may give you a bad rating if you’re known for paying late. This will impact your brand negatively.

4. Communicate consistently and effectively

Constant communication through open channels creates a shared understanding and is the key to any healthy relationship. It creates transparency between both parties and helps to avoid any confusion or missteps, such as a missing purchase order. Different time zones can often make effective communication difficult, but thanks to telecommunications, there are many tools available for ensuring effective communication. It is however still important to make sure that face-to-face meetings with your suppliers occur regularly.

5. Be Ethical, Honest and Thorough

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Being known as a client that is ethical, honest and thorough will go a long way and can do wonders for your relationship with vendors. Your moral reputation will make it easier to build trust and strong relationships with suppliers that are difficult to break. By being honest and thorough when something goes wrong will also help you solve problems with vendors quicker. For example, if you’ve received products that are produced with poor quality, by reaching out to your supplier as soon as possible with evidence such as photos to communicate your message effectively, help to resolve the issue quicker.

6. Remember, you’re not the only client

Because the retail industry is highly competitive, your supplier may be serving both your business and your closest competitor. It’s not uncommon, and for you to gain competitive advantage, you need to remain patient and understand that your supplier has to deal with multiple customers on a daily basis. You should maintain the mentality that your supplier isn’t just working for your company and that they may be busy from time to time. Having this type of understanding will benefit the relationship and motivate suppliers to spend more time working with your brand.

Suppliers will always be part of your supply chain, and they’ll always play a significant role in the success of your business. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you treat them well and don’t neglect them. Ensure that you take the time to develop strong, healthy relationships with vendors you can trust.

What has been your experience with suppliers in the past? Do you have any questions regarding apparel supplier relationships? Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

Step-by-Step Quality Management Guide for Apparel Brands 

Tags: Supplier Relationships

Textiles, Apparel and Footwear are part of our DNA. We are leaders in implementing textile quality management solutions that ensure the safety, quality and conformity of our customers’ products.

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