Getting good value for money with your suppliers takes time, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Find out the essential steps in how to find the best suppliers for your business in this article.

We’ll cover key steps you’ll need to source quality manufacturers at competitive prices. Discover:

  • How to find the best suppliers
  • Things to consider before you decide
  • Is the cheapest option always the best?
  • Should I stay with the same supplier forever?
  • How to manage your supplier expenses more efficiently

How to find the best suppliers

Finding the supplier is a balancing act comparing how much they charge for what they offer. Below we outline critical elements to cover during your search as well as key considerations before you sign a contract or place your first order. 

Where to look

Suppliers will advertise and seek to get your attention in a variety of ways. As you’re looking to find suppliers for your business, consider looking in these three locations and start comparing prices:

  1. Trade shows

Trade shows can be the perfect place to start if you’re new to the business world. Trade shows and other exposition events let you get a broad understanding of what the market offers from different businesses showcasing their products. Trade shows will typically be staffed with sales staff who you can talk to about pricing for further information quickly.

  1. Industry publications

In between trade shows, you should consider looking up industry publications provided by individual businesses or specialised publishing companies that discuss and advertise different suppliers. Each publication typically has contact information for how readers can get in touch to place orders or for pricing information. 

Depending on how niche your supplier needs, you may need to consult several different publications. Some product categories can be included as a smaller section of a more general theme like “office stationery”.

  1. Online searches and comparison sites

Certain business goods are neither available through trade shows or industry publications. A typical example is insurance policies. Comparison sites like Compare The Market and Superscript offer business owners an easy and quick way to find the deals they want at prices they like. 

How to compare bulk purchase rates

When comparing prices, you primarily need to balance the cost-efficiency that suppliers offer in providing goods for cheaper rates with larger orders versus how much you actually need at any one time. 

If you’re confident that you’re going to experience an increase in sales, it makes sense to place a larger order. Otherwise, you shouldn’t let your budget take the hit: excess product purchases are an additional unnecessary expense. As a small business, this may be difficult as some suppliers have a minimum order quantity. Therefore, try your best to find a supplier that provides the cheapest rate for the quantities you need. 

Unfortunately, it may sometimes be the case that suppliers are more efficient at different thresholds. Therefore, consider also how your orders scale with your business’ turnover so you’re prepared for the future.

Things to consider before you decide

If you’re found a supplier with competitive prices and high-quality products, consider the following questions before you place your first order:

  • What is the landed cost of your goods? How does your order prices change as you add packaging and delivery costs to the process? Can you reduce these prices or shorten the wait time?
  • Is there a minimum contract length you need to sign up for or an exclusivity clause in place? Some suppliers may wish to keep your business for a long time. Vice versa, some manufacturing units may be open to doing business with you exclusively if you offer them a lucrative future relationship.
  • Is their manufacturing process sustainable and environmentally friendly? As governments around the world are set to meet the challenges facing the climate, products and businesses may be hit with carbon and manufacturing taxes. Get ahead of the curve and avoid these costs to your business in the first place.

Is the cheapest option always the best?

As a small business, low prices can easily sway your decision-making process. However, you should consider different aspects of ‘value’ for the goods you’re buying. 

While you might wish to maximise your profit margin or pass savings onto customers, these same customers won’t be happy if your products are made from inferior materials. If your product needs to be durable or well made, this will cost extra money – therefore, you’ll need to make sure you find suppliers who can provide this for a reasonable cost, not necessarily the cheapest.

Of course, paying suppliers a premium rate doesn’t necessarily mean your goods will be the best, just that they’re expensive. Therefore, do your due diligence and find suppliers you can trust to deliver quality goods at a price you can afford.

Should I stay with the same supplier forever?

If you’ve found a business that you’re happy to order from and you’re sharing a business relationship with – should you stay with them?

This question is difficult as it can wholly depend on the relationship you have with your suppliers. If you spot a highly competitive deal compared to what you’re currently paying, it makes sense to switch on paper. However, there are other elements to the price you pay. 

If you have an established relationship with your current supplier, they may be more understanding if you run into cash flow problems. Similarly, they may already be giving you favourable rates that you don’t know. Therefore, just because you see a cheaper deal, it may make more sense to see if they can match it first. Finally, if your business enjoys a longstanding relationship with certain suppliers, you may also be able to ask them to place priority on your orders so you can be first to market with new product trends as they happen. 

Therefore, while it makes good business sense to be open to new offers, you may be able to access even better value for money by building strong working relationships with your existing suppliers.

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