Small Business Tips: Advice For Choosing Suppliers

Factors to consider when you chose where to buy supplies: shipping methods, customer service, guarantee information and payment terms.

Small business owners either provide their clients with a product, a service or both. But whether it is a service or product being offered, professional supplies are necessary. One of the most important relationships that a business owner will have is with their suppliers. The reliability of a supplier can make or break one's business. When choosing a supplier, take into consideration the following: shipping methods, customer service, guarantee information and payment terms.

One of the most important features to look for when choosing a supplier is their shipping method. The more options available, the easier it will be for your company to receive packages. Traditional Unites States postal service is the oldest and slowest method. Most companies tend to ship products via private companies such as United Parcel Service, Federal Express and DHL. These private companies offer door delivery regardless of the weight of the package. The United States Postal Service has limits on the size and weight of packages that their carriers deliver. If one orders a package that exceeds the limits, one must take a trip to the post office to pick it up in person.

Private services also allow for delivery time options. A small business owner may be able to specify what time slot they would like their package delivered. Many carriers deliver in the evening as well as the day. Many carriers will also leave the package at the destination if a signature is not required. And the most important reason for choosing a supplier who uses a private service is speed. Private carriers guarantee overnight to two-day delivery. This aids business owners who have to meet strict guidelines with their clients.



Small business owners are placing more value on the customer service of their suppliers. Excellent customer service is pertinent when choosing a supplier. It is not only important that phone calls are handled with courtesy, but complaints should be received in the same manner. A supplier should be more than willing to resolve shipping or product problems, with the goal of making the business owner happy. If a product is missing or defective, the supplier should enthusiastically do an investigation. The supplier should also provide a replacement or substitute so that the small business customer can continue business with their clients, uninterrupted.

A toll free number with extended hours and weekend hours provides customers with the option of calling when convenient. A website is also important. A website can answer frequently asked questions, so that the customer does not have to waste time calling. A sophisticated website can offer order placing and tracking. All of these features equal convenience for the small business owner.

A reputable supplier will supply a guarantee against their products. If a small business owner orders defective supplies, they should be eligible for a hassle free refund or replacement. Sometimes the small business owner doesn't just use the supplies; they may resell to their clients. If a product is defective and the supplier does not stand behind their product, the small business owner will lose money when they reimburse their client. Also defective products compromise the reputation of the business. Quick replacements provided by the supplier, makes for a good relationship between the supplier, the business and the business' clients.

Payment terms vary from supplier to supplier. Some suppliers expect payment in full before they ship the product. Other companies expect payment within thirty days of the shipment. And there are some who break payments up into monthly or quarterly payments. It is best to choose a supplier who accepts payment after the product is shipped. If the product is defected or one changes their mind, they can ship it back to the supplier without waiting for a refund. This option is also good for merchants who resell products they offer. If a product does not sell, or sells slow, the merchant can always send back what did not sell. It is important for the business owner to return items in the same condition as received. If not they will compromise their future relationship with the supplier.

Choosing a good supplier is more than the product offered and the price. Customer service, shipping, guarantee information and payment terms can either flourish one's small business or hinder it.

© High Speed Ventures 2011