How To Establish Good Relationships With Suppliers

Sharline Shaw

Relationships define businesses success.

Wholesalers/distributors, manufacturers/vendors, or importers? They’re all your suppliers. And the more powerful your business relationship with each one is, the easier your enterprise develops.

LeelineSourcing, with our long experience working with millions of worldwide suppliers, is proud to say:

You can find this “establish good suppliers relationship” intensive knowledge in thousand-dollars courses. But here. We provide it for free. 

Interested in anything that creates a strong relationship with suppliers? Keep scrolling down.

How to establish better relationships with suppliers

Is it necessary to have a good relationship with your supplier?

Suppliers can have a massive impact on any process of a firm. They have primary responsibility in supply chain management.

Unreliable suppliers can create stagnation in your production flow more than you realize. However, a dependable one can develop your entire business. 

Having a great relationship with key suppliers and you will achieve:

  • Long-term cost savings
  • Best deal in your field
  • Waste less time worrying about procurement 
  • Improve operations in complex supply chain
  • Reduce availability problems, delays, and quality issues,… 

A healthy relationship can help both your venture and suppliers grow at scale. It’s a win-win game. So, approach the right way to maintain and develop it over the long run.

Benefits of having a good relationship with suppliers

Benefits of having a good relationship with suppliers

1. Reduced Costs 

By cooperating with suppliers, companies can have lower costs over the long term, cut additional costs, such as:  

  • Setting up new suppliers and re-verifying current suppliers are time-consuming and expensive.
  • Instead of paying administration fees, higher shipping charges,… when working with third-party services. Direct work with a vendor can help you reduce costs.
  • Reduce the risk of quality issues cost (52% of product recalls come from vendor problems). 
  • A long-term contract can also cut price volatility by the fixed price set before.

2. Increase Efficiency

  • A faster, smoother supply chain can help companies meet their performance goals.
  • Ongoing relationships with dependable vendors can simplify the payment management process. 
  • Problem-solving capability: Easier to seek beneficial solutions when dealing with an issue.

3. Improve supplier relationships will improve your entire system:

  • A Happier Team: Every process is more manageable, from administration to customer services. Your employee will be thankful for your strategic approach.
  • The stronger the relationship you build, the better your service will get. It creates a trusting partnership between you and a key supplier

How to establish good relationships with suppliers?

Yes, you are the customer. But this doesn’t mean the power is always there with you. Every relationship is a two-way street. Being yourself is good. But to have even better relationships, try these techniques.

1. Choose suppliers that align with your vision

Spending time finding the right supplier is better than wasting time changing it.

Like personal relationships. It’s challenging to maintain one with a person who has a different motto. When choosing suppliers, consider their:

  • Values, positioning, and reputation. 
  • Whether their materials or services match your desire
  • Are there warranties or return policies that match your own?

Tips: Check previous customer feedback or testimonial.

2. Communication

The first step to raise a successful business relationship is communication.”

Regular communication is key to the success of any business relationship. You could settle for online or offline communication via face-to-face meetings or via virtual mailboxes. Either way, to succeed in your communication endeavors, you should try to:

  • Explain what both sides’ roles and responsibilities are.
  • Open to sharing your goals with vendors. Ask them what can they help us reach those goals.
  • Both parties need to discuss and develop a solution once arising issue.
  • Provide feedback after implementing the solution. Mutual understanding is an integral part.

It all requires open and honest communication. 

Remember, two-way communication leads the path to success in business-to-business relationships.

3. Be proactive

  • Address challenges, concerns, and ideas upfront.
  • Be active in providing documents like insurance certificates, company information, and order numbers.

4. Be a great customer 

Put yourself in their shoes.”

Think about what you want in a reliable customer and treat them the same. You need to know what their desire is: 

  • Pay on time
  • Putting some deposits can be helpful
  • Keep your records to save their time looking back.

Treat your suppliers with respect so they will be happy to help you. 

5. Your loyalty is their gift

We understand money matters. And If there is a better deal, would you still be loyal to your current suppliers?

You are willing to do everything to create customer loyalty. Same with them! If your supplier is doing well, reward them with your loyalty. 

6. Pay promptly

Cash flow – is a nightmare for all companies. Good news! You have the power to help your vendor reduce their cash flow headaches. Being the client that always pays timely. That’s it. Not pending an invoice is understanding their inner desire. 

Also, once you finish the payment on time, there’s no need to worry about slow order fulfillment, late fees, or other potential issues.

7. Refer their good service

The goal of every firm, in the end, is to grow and earn more income. Show suppliers your appreciation. Help your key supplier generate leads by referring their businesses to others (If you had a good experience with them, of course.) Your supplier will be happy to recommend your brand in return next time. 

Suggested reading: Alibaba Suppliers

Looking for the Best China Sourcing Agent?

Leeline Sourcing helps you find factories, get competitive prices, follow up production, ensure quality and deliver products to the door.

5 Tips to Build Long Term Relationships

  1. Pay on Time:

Late payments are a “red flag” for any business. Paying late makes them doubt your finances. Good supplier relationships? That’s not going to happen.

With late payments, suppliers will be unable to fill stocks. Imagine if you have a vast sudden order. Can they help you? Unfortunately, no.

  1. Be Flexible with Payment Terms:

Do most companies have a preferred payment term? 

You have reasons for your way of payment, but understand your supplier has theirs. Listen to them, be open to discussing and find the most suitable payment arrangement. 

  1. Credit Available:

Ask for flexibility from your suppliers? Having pre-approved credit would be a perfect backup plan. It helps you reduce the risk of unexpected bookings and allows suppliers to keep up with your order.

  1. Review Terms Regularly:

Hosting a regular meeting to review the contract term is a good idea to look for improvements.

Discuss which things make one party or both unsatisfied? What proper solution for it?

  1. Early notice:

Unexpected last-minute orders are something you can’t control. But, try to inform them of the latest update If it’s available. This way shows you respect and understands them.


TOYOTA is an excellent example of a good supplier relationship.

 example of a good supplier relationship

They ranked 1st in the annual survey: “North American Automotive OEM Supplier WRI (from Plante Moran).” The world’s biggest automaker, TOYOTA, has developed partnerships with its key Japanese suppliers. Admirable relationships.

Jean-Christophe Deville, Toyota purchasing general manager, expressed that:

“TOYOTA invests time in technical R&D shows and review meetings,… To discuss the latest idea with their providers.”

Not a few companies focus on building a solid relationship with providers as TOYOTA does. And that innovative ways explain TOYOTA’s success.

Suggested reading: China Shoe Manufacturers

FAQs about establishing good relationships with suppliers

What are the three types of buyer-seller relationships?

There are three types: transactional, collaborative, and strategic alliance. 

What question can I ask my vendor to get to know them?

• What will my total costs be? 
• Can I have a guaranteed return?
• Can your side meet my expected gross margin? 
• Under what circumstance might price change?
• Will the contractor provide any insurance certificates?

What are the main challenges of building relationships?

Ensuring quality, managing risk/cost, increasing corporate social responsibility, and meeting requirements.

What is Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)?

Supplier relationship management (SRM) is the systematic method of evaluating providers’ contributions to businesses. The benefit of using the right SRM strategies.

How to start a Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)

There are four steps:
1. Segment the supply ground
2. Build a seller administration framework
3. Build key performance indicators
4. Create supplier management strategies

Final thoughts

Your suppliers always play an essential role in your operations. So having solid distributors relationships allows you to get huge benefits. For yourself, your customer, and suppliers. More quality products/services, more efficient supply chain,… and better than that.

Trouble in finding a good supplier that matches your desire?

We can help!  LeelineSourcing has cooperated with millions of suppliers since its first days. We can find you the best quality and lowest prices suppliers. Contact us!  

Get your business a perfect-match supplier!

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Article by:

Sharline Shaw

Hey I'm Sharline, the founder of Leeline Sourcing. With 10 years of experience in the field of sourcing in China, we help 2000+ clients import from China,Alibaba,1688 to Amazon FBA or shopify. If you have any questions about sourcing , pls feel free to contact us.