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How to improve supplier relations in imports?

Effective communication with suppliers is essential in business management. This is not a new topic; in fact, our regular readers will know that it is a subject we often cover in our blog.

Maintaining an open and transparent dialogue strengthens relationships. Technology plays a key role in optimising efficient procurement and decision-making processes. However, when dealing with suppliers from very different cultures, for example in Asian countries, more attention needs to be paid to small details that might otherwise go unnoticed or unimportant.

The relevance of effective communication with suppliers

When it comes to business, effective communication with suppliers is a fundamental pillar of any organisation’s success. After a good assessment of the company from which we are going to buy products, maintaining an open and transparent dialogue with suppliers is essential to build strong and lasting relationships based on mutual trust.

The importance of open and transparent dialogue

Open and transparent dialogue with suppliers enables effective conflict resolution, anticipating potential problems and working together to find mutually beneficial solutions. Transparent communication strengthens the relationship and contributes to a harmonious working environment.

The key role of technology in supplier management

Technology plays a fundamental role in supplier management, facilitating communication, automating processes and improving efficiency in decision-making. Technological tools such as supplier management platforms or order tracking systems help streamline processes and optimise the relationship with business partners.

Supplier segmentation according to their importance to the company

The classification of suppliers into strategic, tactical and cross-cutting categories is essential to prioritise procurement management. Each type of supplier plays a crucial role in the operation of the company and its contribution may vary according to the category assigned.

Classification into strategic, tactical and cross-cutting categories

  • Strategic suppliers: Suppliers whose services or products have a direct impact on the company’s strategy. Maintaining a solid relationship with these suppliers is key to long-term success.
  • Tactical suppliers: Their contribution is important in the day-to-day running of the company, although it does not determine the long-term strategy. The efficiency in the management of these suppliers can influence the operability of the business.
  • Cross-cutting suppliers: They make a more general contribution to the business, without necessarily being a central part of the strategy (an example of this would be an indirect purchasing supplier). Their management is important to maintain the efficiency of internal processes.

Establishment of a fair and transparent treatment policy

Avoiding favouritism and discrimination

At the business level, it is essential to avoid any kind of favouritism or discrimination in the relationship with suppliers. All parties must be treated equally and fairly, without unjustified privileges that may affect transparency and trust in the supply chain. Fairness in dealing with suppliers is key to building strong and lasting relationships based on mutual trust.

Encouraging open and honest dialogue

In order to establish a policy of fair and transparent treatment, it is essential to foster open and honest dialogue with suppliers. Clear and honest communication facilitates conflict resolution, consensual decision-making and the building of relationships based on trust and mutual respect.

Honest dialogue allows both parties to express their needs and expectations in a transparent manner, which contributes to strengthening the relationship in the long term. In addition, it is important to remember that when dealing with suppliers from countries with very different cultures, such as China, cultural factors must be taken into account, as any gesture out of context can lead to conflict and loss of trust.

Benefits of improving supplier relationships in the supply chain

Experience tells us that having a good relationship with suppliers is important, firstly, because we are dealing with people and, as in any professional relationship, everything is more pleasant when there is a good consonance.

However, the aim of this article is to make clear the benefits that a good customer-supplier relationship generates for our company.

  • Optimisation of delivery times: By maintaining a solid and effective relationship with suppliers, agreements can be established to speed up and improve the delivery times of products needed by the company, avoiding serious problems such as stock-outs.
  • Reduced operating costs: A good relationship with suppliers can result in obtaining better prices, flexible payment terms or volume discounts, which helps to reduce the company’s operating costs.
  • Increased flexibility and adaptability: By establishing clear and constant communication with suppliers, it is easier to make adjustments or modifications to orders quickly and effectively, allowing for greater flexibility in the supply chain.
  • Higher quality in products or services: Although the professionalism of any company should be above personal treatment, there is no doubt that a positive relationship with suppliers can lead to a closer collaboration in the development and improvement of the products or services offered by the company, which translates into higher quality for the end customer.

Tips for implementing effective communication with suppliers

At this point, it seems to be clear that we have to work to make our supplier relations as good as possible. However, we know that this is not always easy, especially when there are big cultural differences involved. So, we believe that these are some of the main tips that can help to optimise supplier relations.

  • Establish regular meetings with suppliers to discuss important issues and generate a space for open and direct dialogue (something that is difficult when negotiating with very distant countries and, in which case, is limited to phone calls or online meetings).
  • Clearly define the objectives and expectations of both parties, ensuring that there is a mutual understanding of what is expected from the business relationship.
  • Use efficient communication tools, such as emails, collaborative platforms or instant messaging systems, to maintain fluid and agile communication.
  • Actively listen to the opinions and suggestions of suppliers, showing interest in their needs and seeking joint solutions to possible conflicts.

Need help with your suppliers?

There is something essential for a customer-supplier relationship to work that cannot be explained, or even summarised, in an article: experience.

As happens in most of the actions we carry out on a daily basis in companies, years of work, knowledge and overcoming problems enrich us and allow us to feel comfortable in certain circumstances that are not always easy.

In this context, and in the case of our customers who import products from China and other Asian countries, a fundamental factor is added: the cultural difference.

It is precisely for this reason that a sourcing company such as ours can be extremely valuable not only in the search for and selection of suppliers, but also in the subsequent management and relationship with them.

By having a team of people in all the countries in which we work, we can offer our clients the peace of mind that our professionals will deal with their suppliers on an equal footing, without the risk of falling into linguistic or cultural problems, and guaranteeing the best import results.