5 things to know when you select a supplier

Vincent Breitel, Associate Director, Genesis Solutions Ltd.

Vincent Breitel is Associate Director of Genesis Solutions Ltd., a sourcing and supplier management agency focused on in-store retail fixtures, furniture and components. Vincent joined Genesis in 2011 and has been developing retail supply chain strategies for international clients of Genesis and partner company EC Harris. Based in China since 2008, Vincent has been working in different manufacturing businesses since then and has strong experience in addressing sourcing and procurement challenges facing clients in China. These are some of his tips on how to find suppliers.

In the retail industry, identifying and selecting a supplier can be an overwhelming task, especially when entering a new market. The manufacturing industry is highly competitive and potentially hazardous and this is one key business decision that carries a large amount of risk on investment.

1. Choose a supplier who is working with clients in the same business than yours.

Engaging with a supplier who also works with your clients or competitors is a good indication that they will understand your business requirements. Although this will not guarantee a successful outcome, if the situation is handled with consideration, you can turn this into an advantage

The supplier will need to show you a proven track record of success. The show room will be a good indication for knowing who they have bid for. The production and stock will certainly bring you an accurate feedback for who they currently work with so always make sure you visit the facilities.

You can engage the supplier on detailing how he will answer to your project.

Scope of services,
Skills in-house
Dedicated team
Monthly production capacity
Current project

2. Centralize your procurement within one supplier having all required machinery and skills in-house.

Having a supplier sub-contracting parts of your production to other parties increases the risk of potential failure. Conversely, having one central team working together, sharing expertise and tools will help to drive a common vision and greater energy around the project and the product being delivered.

In all cases you should try to ensure all responsibility and communication remains with the supplier you have chosen.

3. Go through an initial testing phase to assess a supplier’s capability:

The best way to assess a new supplier with minimum risk is to start working with them at the very outset with a tender and request for prototypes.

This exercise needs to be detailed. It includes an NDA, pricing, technical information, specification sheets, shop drawings, samples, certificates and all required QA documentation. You should make this process as thorough as possible as it will allow you to accurately assess their reactivity, understanding and maturity at different level and departments.

The prototype phase will also offer a chance to assess their production capacity before you commit to a long-term engagement. The look and specifications of the product will be the main elements to review however their ability to meet deadlines, deliver the products efficiently and respond to any enquiries with suitable solutions will all be factors to consider when assessing if they will make a suitable partner.

4. Measure your supplier against at least three other vendors:

You need to consider a number of different solutions before being in a position to choose the best supplier for your business. By assessing a number of different vendors you will also gain a broader perspective on the current market situation and what you can reasonably expect from a supplier. The feedback you receive from each vendor will also provide valuable intelligence as you look to consolidate your future brief and overall supply chain strategy.

5. Do not choose a supplier simply based on price:

For some organizations a successful supply chain approach is based on finding the cheapest suppliers.

This can be short-sighted as you are paying for a full solution rather than just a product itself. There’s enormous value in having certainty that a product will be delivered on time, to the right specification and that sales support services will be provided on an on-going basis. Prices are always changing however the environment you’re trying to build requires stability. On that basis it’s advantageous to choose a supplier that can offer the level of service you need to achieve your business vision, even if it’s at a higher cost.

Genesis Solutions is a leading provider of sourcing and supply chain management services specializing in fixtures, furniture, components and other non-consumable products for the retail sector. Based in Hong Kong with offices in China, Singapore and India, Genesis provides convenient access to manufacturers across Asia.