Why a Good Wholesaler Relationship Matters

by Wholesale_Manager on 02-18-2015 in Wholesale Center

Why a Good Wholesaler Relationship Matters

Wholesalers can make or break a business that relies on materials or other products from partner businesses when selling to retail. How that buyer business follows through on a supply-side relationship strategy can make a significant difference in having a smooth-flowing production system or one that is filled with headaches and missed deadlines. Ultimately, the relationship can also affect the bottom line.

Arms-Length Buying Doesn't Work

The traditional perspective is often that a business which makes an order sits in the driver's seat and calls all the shots. The wholesaler should then bend over backwards to make the order entirely correct to satisfaction. In fact, a successful wholesaler has dozens or hundreds of clients putting in orders regularly, and it’s really the wholesaling business that decides who gets what supply first and at what quality. Because of this fact a supplier can steer a buyer into a very good position or one that's not so good versus other competitors at the retail level.

When a business locates a wholesaler with the right materials and capability to meet a given retail demand, that supply company needs to be treated as a good partner. The relationship goes both ways, so clearly a business depending on a wholesaler will have specific criteria that need to be met. Quality of materials or product has to be at the right level to make the process worthwhile. No one wants to be ripped off with inferior goods. Additionally, the timing of deliveries to match desired inventory levels matters as well. If deliveries don’t arrive when expected, a business can lose sales due simply to a lack of goods available. That helps no one.

Methods of Relationship Building

How a business communicates with a wholesaling partner makes a big difference. First, the relationship depends on clarity. The ordering business needs to be specific what is needed, when, and how much. Good suppliers will respond what they can meet and what doesn’t work. Negotiation clarifies the rest. But a business can’t leave out details up front and then hold the supplier to them after the fact. It doesn’t work and trust in the relationship gets eroded. Sure, the supplier might take the heat the first time, owning the "mistake." However, that company likely won't take the buyer as a client again.

Where a supplier has been a good partner, a business needs to discuss new changes with that company as they occur. It often happens that a business grows to a point where it needs changes in wholesale supply to keep going. Before dumping a loyal supplier cold turkey, a business should give that partner a chance to change with the growing business. The existing relationship can save thousands of dollars in knowledge and experience versus going cold with a new wholesaler.

Prompt financial dealings also go both ways. A company can’t expect good service from a wholesaler if it doesn’t pay its bills on time. Timely payment keeps the process moving and goods flowing on schedule. If a business needs short-term credit from a supplier on a large order knowing the funds will come with completion of a sale, than that credit discussion should happen up front rather then when payment is due in an attempt to extend an overdue invoice out 15 more days. 

Ordering time between purchase and delivery also matters. Wholesale providers can work a lot of magic, but they usually can’t consistent meet emergencies within 24 hours every day of the week. They have other customers’ needs to meet as well. By providing a wholesaler enough lead time, orders can be meet easily and delivered timely. This may take some planning on the part of the buyer to anticipate when supply is needed in his own production. The less guesswork allowed to exist, the smoother the supply-side chain will work.

It also doesn’t hurt to get personal in the relationship. Visits to supplier facilities and regular meetings both in formal and informal settings help strengthen ongoing communication lines between a supplier and a buyer. The opportunities also allow face-to-face, frank discussions that can cover a lot of topics in a short period of time. Gifts during the holidays are always a good reminder of the business relationship involved. Just don’t go overboard or do anything unethical or illegal.

Good relationships with suppliers and partner wholesalers can reap benefits in a number of ways if done right. Suppliers can work out better pricing schemes to give a buyer an edge versus his competition in the same market. Wholesalers can also keep an eye out for new ideas that can transfer to a buyer, opening up new markets and products to sell.

Further, good relationships and long-term accounts usually help when financing support is needed for big orders. If realizing a Wal-Mart effect, a long-standing relationship with a wholesaler can help meet the cost and need until that “Wal-Mart” pays up at delivery.


Despite the speed and benefits of technology and things moving more and more by computer, business still relies heavily on personal relationships and face-to-face connections. Working with wholesalers is no exception to this fact. Those businesses that take advantage of the personal factor in networking and connections will always do better than buyers who treat suppliers like just another vendor.


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