In my pursuit of being more business minded I stumbled upon a very important lesson. It’s the balance between doing what your suppliers and vendors want, and fighting for the goals of your business. Being rather new to this position, I assumed that I was here to serve the every need of our supply base in an effort to create more meaningful and impactful relationships. This is not the complete case. A time inevitably comes when this becomes crystal clear, and my moment came just the other day.
When a manufacturer decides to take a particular product, product line, collection, category or brand away from catalog I undoubtedly question the impact that it will have on sales. One manufacturer recently decided that a particular category of products would no longer be available for sale through internet retailers, but I did some research into the product line in question and petitioned the manufacturer to allow eCommerce as a sales avenue on a handful of SKUs. They graciously kept three of those SKUs in our catalog, and I thought I had won a small battle.
Flash forward to this week when we received a cost correction for one of the SKUs that was going to be pulled from internet retail. The notification informed us that our cost for this particular item was no longer our dealer price, and it was in fact list price. Obviously this had to be a mistake? I double checked with my contact only to find out that they decided to put their foot down and not allow the sale of those three SKUs. I did some quick research to make sure their claims of not allowing this product line to be sold on the internet were true, and sure enough not one legitimate search result revealed itself. So I felt forced to comply.
Later, I was recapping my decision with my boss, and he helped me see this situation across a broader spectrum of possible situations. He pointed out that the decisions our partners make affect our company and just because a manufacturer or any of our other vendors make business decisions that align with their business goals it doesn’t mean that you have to bend over backwards if it is going to discount the success of your own business. Here I was putting others first in all of this, when I should have been focusing on how this would affect our business.
When I originally did my research on the top sellers for the product line we had to take down I realized my approach was wrong. Instead of acting as a partner with this manufacturer I approached the situation as if this manufacturer was doing me a favor. When in all actuality we bring valuable business to our many different distribution channels. In some cases we are the only sales channel that a particular brand has online and without us they wouldn’t even have an eCommerce presence.
Here is what I learned: Every situation is different. Even though my decision in this case was not necessarily wrong, my approach was. I have to focus on building and maturing the partnerships we have with our supply base and not allow others to make impactful decisions to our business without putting up some sort of fight. Just the same way as our marketing team fights for the customers that land on our site, I have to fight for the business we have with our suppliers.
PlumberSurplus.com offers its customers tens of thousands of plumbing, home improvement, and building products in a range of categories including Kitchen and Bathroom, Water Heaters, Lighting, Pumps, Tools, Access Doors, Valves, Commercial and more. Individuals and businesses can shop quickly and easily at PlumberSurplus.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.