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What Stores Are Looking For in a Supplier Relationship

For ministry objectives to be accomplished the relationship between retailer and supplier needs to be

Respectful

While suppliers have a window into books that won’t hit our shelves until Christmas, retailers have a window into what customers are needing and asking for. These are two very different information sets, with two very different sets of gifts needed to manage each. Suppliers who see the structure as hierarchical (i.e. top -> down) end up with a lack of respect for the very retailers they serve; and the retailers can sense it.

Collegial

While this may seem to just be repeat what was stated above, it’s meant to reflect a different idea; the notion of a partnership between retailer and supplier that serves the common goal of connecting people and products. The language should be, “How can we work together to facilitate getting resources into customers’ hands.”

Fair

The natural outgrowth of the above two factors will be a playing field that is level for dealers, big and small; and fairness in respect of pricing, discounts and terms. We are all squeezed right now, and have been since an industry downturn in the last eight years, but without the retailers, the suppliers have nothing. If store owners and managers even feel they are being taken advantage of, and curtail purchasing, the supplier losses will mount up.

Sustainable

The small store that is coerced into purchasing ten copies of each of ten new releases in May might have nothing left to work with for June releases. While “open to buy” programs are rather constraining and don’t allow purchasing to balloon for major titles, suppliers and their sales reps need to realize there is truly only so much money out there.

Flexible

We have a ‘sales final’ policy in our store on reduced items. It’s there if we need it, but it’s almost never enforced. Suppliers also need to have flexibility with regard to the special needs that may arise with a store. Yes, if it’s offered to one store it should be theoretically available to all stores, but suppliers need to trust the retailer’s judgment and be willing to bend terms or policies to suit particular situations.

If you sense that any of these are missing in any supplier relationship, I think you need to re-examine your support of that company.

 

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