Whether launching your business, growing an existing channel, or expanding to a new one, you'll need vendors that support your e-commerce business’s complex needs.
Vendors come in all shapes and sizes. Some can serve across categories and functions while others fill a specific role. You can choose between large companies that offer stability and infrastructure or boutique shops that provide white glove service. So how do you know whether to keep shopping or commit?
Whatever stage your company is at, here are five key factors for how to pick the right service providers:
Flexible The most important factor for a growing business is being highly adaptable. This means having partners and providers who can change with you. Your business may look very different six months from now than it does today, which means you will need service providers who can move with you along the spectrum. Be sure to understand how a vendor can adjust for your growth or how easily you can unwind an agreement if you need to scale back.
Timely Time is money, they say. Another way to interpret that is: efficiency is highly valuable and wasted time is a squandered resource. This is most true when it comes to service-providers. If you are spending too much time managing your vendors, you are costing yourself and your business more than just the fees you pay out. Before signing off, understand if the vendor you are considering has a reputation for fast and friendly work.
High-Value Fast, Good, and Cheap - pick two We all know this saying by now. The lowest price is not always the best value. The same is often true of the most expensive option. It’s imperative to find the “value sweet spot” when picking a vendor.
A few questions to ask yourself:
Will this make my life easier?
Is it a reasonable expense for the estimated return?
Based on my budget, can I commit to pay for a period of time that will allow me to determine value?
Once you have chosen a vendor who is flexible and timely, take a measured approach to determining a value fit before locking in.
Responsive Along with being timely is whether your vendor is responsive. This can be determined both by reputation and your first few interactions with them.
Do they answer questions willingly and with relevant information?
Are they concerned with customers' long-term success or are they looking for a quick sale?
Do public reviews suggest they work quickly to solve customer issues?
Trustworthy The most important factor in choosing a service provider is, of course, trust. Here are a few quick checks to determine if a vendor is worth trusting with your business:
Recommended or Referred – Whether hiring a new employee or shopping for a set of tires, it’s easiest to trust a direct recommendation. Access your personal and professional networks to see who they use for similar needs. You can also ask for referrals on social media or look to public information from industry experts.
Online Reviews – If you do not have the luxury of a referral from a personal source, using crowd-sourced reviews is a decent substitute. Most vendors will have success stories on their own websites, but you can find many non-biased reviews online or through publications.
Word-of-Mouth – Still the most powerful tool for organic marketing, many businesses work to generate good buzz about their brand. A good reputation might not mean a great fit your business needs, but hearing good things about a company is a barometer for whether they are worth giving a longer look.
Picking the right vendors can be intimidating, but if you follow these guidelines, you will be on the right track to picking vendors and service-providers with clarity and confidence.
If you have questions about how bloomRail can help find the right solution providers for your e-commerce business, you can Contact Us here.