free small business advice & information

Article Index
How to Purchase
Specify What You Want
Supplier Selection
Supplier Relations
From Order to Delivery
Look at the Alternatives
Equipment Specifications

How to Purchase

How do I locate potential suppliers?

You can find and reach suppliers through various channels.

  • Existing suppliers. Contact them and see who they can recommend.
  • Competitors’ suppliers. Try and find out who they use.
  • Trade associations and trade journals. Consult both to find recommendations.
  • Directories. E.g. Yell and others.
  • Business directory websites. E.g. the UK Trade directory and Scoot
  • Suggestions from employees and friends. You never know what contacts people have.

How do I decide which suppliers to use?

  • Make a shortlist of potential suppliers. If you let shortlisted suppliers know you are shopping around you can often secure better terms.
  • Ask them for details. I.e. product information, price lists, and anything else of relevance to the deal.
  • Get quotes. I.e. for payment terms and discounts. Use these in negotiations with other suppliers.
  • Compare potential suppliers. See how they measure up against each-other in terms of price, quality of service, reputation, location, speed and frequency of delivery, and order size.
  • Visit potential long-term suppliers. Assess their suitability up close by visiting them and their premises.
  • Negotiate. See what prices and discounts you can organise for yourself – though don’t negotiate too hard and risk developing an unhealthy relationship and risking quality.