A good relationship with your vendors is critical to keeping your store well-stocked. While friendliness and respect are a part of that relationship, so is vigilance. As you work with vendors, you need to make the decisions that are best for your store.
1. Keep an eye on expired products. Don’t let a dishonest vendor manipulate products in order to steal from you. Some of your products are guaranteed – if they go out of date, a vendor is contracted to remove and replace them at their cost.
Sometimes a vendor will mix expired returns with new products – essentially returning the old products back to you. As a manager, you should separate these old products from your new products so they are not confused with incoming inventory. The vendors should provide you with an invoice that says what they removed.
A vendor might build trust with you by offering you those barely expired products for free to take home to your family. Such gestures are nice, but they shouldn’t stop you from being vigilant and double-checking inventory as it comes and goes.
2. Count everything. Make sure you count products that come in. If a box has 12 or 24 items, open it and check. Also check what you received against the invoice. Did you get two boxes of corn chips when the invoice says three were delivered?
3. Display signs in a way that’s best for your store. Vendors would love to post signs all over your store featuring their products. Consider what looks best in your store – signs that promote products are good, but clutter isn’t. But feel free to promote specials when they benefit you and your customers.
4. Be familiar with your contract. For instance, vendors can’t tell you what products to put in a space — or how much. You may be contracted to have primary products in your soda case, but not necessarily secondary products, and you don’t have to stock low sellers in large quantity.
Tiered pricing is to be expected on products based on the space you allocate for them, however. So it’s best to negotiate for the lowest cost to you, since you and your competitors will probably sell those products for about the same price. There are different incentives you can offer; for instance, you can entice a vendor to accept an annual promotion calendar, committing to scheduled promotions.
5. Control vendor access. In order to keep track of your vendors and the inventory coming and going into your store, try to see just one vendor at a time. If more than one is bringing in products at once, it’s easy to get confused.
It pays to be smart in your relationships with vendors. Build strong ties while remaining alert and keeping a sharp eye on your inventory, and those relationships will pay off for your store.