Supplier management is the traditional measure for supplier efficiency on a number of metrics. On-time delivery, product information, and product innovation are some of the basic metrics when a wholesale distributor evaluates their suppliers. But these measures do not fully describe the partner relationship that exists between suppliers and wholesale distributors.
In fact, some writings speak of the supplier management of wholesale distributors in very different terms from the supplier point of view. One article on the subject raises the question, “Should suppliers treat distributors as their employees or customers?” Research has come to the conclusion that they are both, and ultimately should be seen as partners.
As you look to the supply chain of the future, collaboration with partners in the supply chain will continue to grow in importance. Collaboration takes on many forms; product information, supply chain transactional information, product availability, and more. What is clear is that supplier management in the wholesale industry is really partner management.
Today, supply chain partners are looking for more efficient ways to collaborate through business networks. Willingness to join and collaborate through business networks is one of the new ways to look at the commitment to a partnership relationship. This drives not only efficiency of data exchange, which is well established for many wholesales and their suppliers, but also real-time collaboration in a business network to react to the immediate demands of customers.
When wholesalers look at supplier management, they should consider collaboration via mutually beneficial business networks as another key measure of partnership with suppliers.
For more insight on supply chain management, see Why Women Will Be Crucial To Manufacturing And Supply Chain In The Digital Economy.