A supplier response to a buyer that’s waiting for an update, is like a cup of water to a man in a desert.
A professional response from the supplier’s side shows…
A supplier response may be the only way a buyer sees the order they don’t see.
A response from the supplier gives clearer insight to the buyer:
As the buyer, insist on response and train your supplier on the types and frequency of responses you require (another reason to establish longterm relationships, because it’s tricky to insist on this when you only do 1-off orders).
A supplier response gives assurance
Suppliers don’t realize the power of the response in this area. They do not realize how apprehensive a buyer can be about their orders.
They see the buyer’s need for communication to be a sign of distrust. They think if the buyer is that worried about the order, they should come visit.
China suppliers, especially, have a difficult time understanding a flow of communication.
“There’s nothing new to update” is a common protest from a supplier who doesn’t know how to use their words to stay connected.
“I don’t have an answer yet” is another defense on why they waited days to communicate with their buyer.
Frequently, your Chinese supplier is working very hard on the buyer’s behalf; putting out fires and controlling the production line. But they are not good at communicating their efforts to their buyers.
You’re working hard, but not communicating. So when a problem DOES happen, it tends to compound the distrust from the buyer side.
A small and effective supplier response to a customer is better than waiting days for a blobby update.
Guide your supplier’s in their response.
If you work frequently with the same vendor, this will be worth the investment but still try it with vendors you don’t often work with.
Don’t be timid to insist on updates from your supplier. Be bold in this request and let them know why you need the updates.
Let your vendor know that you insist on receiving updates with some sort of frequency.
Inform the supplier that for certain phases you require visual documentation. Photos of the production line or a small video showing an assembled item. Put this requirement in your Purchase Order.
“Show me a scheduling path. Don’t just tell me we are on time, but HOW are we on time“.
Formulate questions just to get your supplier thinking and keep them on their toes.
Each supplier response can be a quality-checkpoint
From the supplier’s response, you can analyze visuals to see if there are discrepancies or quality errors. From their words, you can catch order understanding discrepancies and judge if something fell off track.
Inspect photos with a magnifying glass and be inquisitive.
In offshore manufacturing a timely response stops a wrong move.
One last point: A client may not immediately tackle and analyze a supplier’s email. The supplier is not proactive in the follow-up and making sure the client analyzed everything and understood all the ramifications of the email just sent.
If the client will read and analyze material immediately, they may catch a problem and make an immediate correction. If the info isn’t tackled and the supplier doesn’t realize their is an error, then the problem festers, time can delay and worst case, the supplier proceed with the project with errors packed inside the project.
The point being is that many times, supplier’s do update and respond in their best effort, but buyers don’t regard the communication. This creates errors.
Errors that could’ve been avoided, simply by reviewing material and responding.