12 Questions Every B2B eCommerce Manager Should Ask About Their Supplier

February 2, 2015

Category: Best Practices

Your business is growing nicely, you have great marketing, great sales, great customer service, and a great value proposition for your customers. Everything seems to be going perfectly.

But then your supplier lets you down.  

Maybe they aren’t automated, or they can’t integrate with your accounting or marketing automation system. It’s possible they don’t serve the part of the country (or even a different country) one of your customers wants to expand to. Or in your expansion to a new location, you’re noticing a different level of quality.

Fortunately, this situation is avoidable. There may not be “perfect” suppliers out there, but there are ones that make sense for you and your business’ needs.

Here are 12 questions to ask yourself when evaluating the best supplier for your business’ future needs:

1.  The obvious questions to ask when selecting a supplier:

  • How do they price the products you are interested in?
  • How do they do quality control?
  • How do they handle delivery and shipping?

If the answers to these questions are in line with what you are interested in, you’re going to see:

  • Higher margins
  • Lower returns
  • Happier customers

2.  The not so obvious questions to ask when selecting a supplier:

  • What does their geographic coverage look like?
  • How many locations do they have, and do those locations match up with where you want to grow?
  • What kinds of capabilities do they have at each location?
  • What are their shipping costs and which shippers do they use?
  • Do they have any kind of creative services that would suit your needs?

If the answers to these questions are in line with what you are interested in, you’re going to see:

  • Reduced delivery times
  • Reduced shipping costs
  • Creative in line with production capabilities
  • Happier customers

3.  Hidden Supplier Traits you might not know you need:

  • Are they fully automated?
  • Are they compatible with your systems?
  • How do they handle the following:
    • Receiving orders
    • Order input
    • Closing orders
    • Sending tracking information
  • How is their financial strength?

If the answers to these questions are in line with what you are interested in, you’re going to see:

  • Reduced errors
  • Reduced turnaround times
  • Reduced burden on your customer services reps
  • Happier customers

Have these conversations with your suppliers and they’ll get a better sense of your business goals and envisioned future. Ensuring your supplier will accommodate your desires for future growth in the ecommerce space is important and we’re ready to work with you to make that happen.