What are the pros and cons of having a single source supplier?

People often ask me – what is a single source supplier and how will it benefit my business, which led me to think about our personal purchasing and buying habits…

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Terry Gardner

Terry Gardner
Account Director

Working with a wide mix of retailers, Terry loves meeting new people and is addicted to forging partnerships that add real value by reducing costs and increasing sustainability.  In a quiet moment when he’s not working you’ll normally find Terry with family and friends or listening to music.

How many people get their weekly grocery shopping from 10 different shops, some click and collect, some delivery, some just browsing the store?

I don’t reckon it’s that many.

It’s kind of unthinkable.

So why in business do we do the opposite and spend half the week running around different suppliers, organising deliveries, checking off 100s of invoices and generally increasing our blood pressure?  It suddenly seems a bit crazy!

Getting all your goods delivered from your favourite superstore is very much like something make companies refer to as single source, and we’d like to answer a few questions around this.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of single source supply for your business?

Watch our video and find out!

What is a Single Source supplier?

In the area of Retail Consumables, a Single Source Supplier is someone who can supply and support you with retail consumables and business supplies. It’s those necessities that keep your stores operational on a day-to-day basis.  This type of supplier becomes a partner and a trusted advisor.  They work as an extension of your business just like they’re your colleagues and friends.  They would take time to understand your business, and provide an end-to-end process, collaborating with you to streamline and optimise your supply chain for the best result.

Single source can be the answer to many challenges in your business. This can help you to successfully deploy your resources in a more effective way.  Stay with us to find out more!

What are the disadvantages of having a Single Source supplier?

There is a lot of thoughts out there about having a single supplier. The main one being around the risk attached to putting all of your eggs in one basket.  That company may have issues with their supply chain. They may not have the capacity to constantly supply your company. They might not be able to provide advice and support on all of their products if they provide a wide range.

How do you overcome these risks?

Do your research
We would encourage any company to do their due diligence in checking the reliability of the supplier. How many years have they been trading for?  What’s their product portfolio like?  Are they keeping up-to-date in technology and important issues such as sustainability?  What’s their supply chain like?

Get references
Speak to other companies that are using a single source partner. Who is well known in the industry, and how have others found them to work with?

Talk to them
Sound them out! How do they work?  What can they offer in the way of value to your company?  Are they going to care for you and help you to get the benefits of having a single source supplier?

What are the advantages of having a Single Source supplier?

Creating efficiencies
By using a single supplier, you can improve efficiencies in your business in many areas, which are covered below:

Instead of your accounts department getting frustrated with hundreds of petty cash receipts and invoices from multiple suppliers, some single source suppliers can consolidate all your expenditure into one monthly invoice. That’s the kind of thing your accounts team probably dream about and don’t believe could ever happen!
Your single source supplier should also be able to integrate with your systems and provide reporting with your nominal codes and other data you need, creating further efficiencies

If you’re struggling with storage space and incurring costs, then a single source supplier could be your answer. With all supplies held in one central location, this will free up lots of valuable space that can be used for stock that you can sell.

Have you found yourself running around trying to sort out deliveries from multiple suppliers going to your different stores? With a single supplier, if anything does go awry with the couriers or deliveries, you’ll just have one point of contact to speak to.

Consistency of product, price and service is something that companies with a single source partner always benefit from. If you have multiple locations, one location may be running to the local supermarket if they run out of parcel tape, while another is bulk buying from a national distributor.  With a single supplier you can have peace of mind that products are being sourced competitively and everyone has the same quality and service.

Most single source partners will deliver direct to location. This means  you won’t need to use your resources to distribute goods from a central location. This can be especially beneficial if the supplier provides branded products as most will store these at their warehouse and it will take out the process of them going into your warehouse.

This all accumulates into huge amounts of time being saved. Whether its for the accounts team, your warehouse staff, purchasing or your teams in your shops. In this way, each department directly benefits from a single source supplier. If you could save over 50% in time admin, how much would that be worth to your business?

Cost saving and control of costs
Using a single source partner can save money through distribution, time saved and efficiencies created, but also in the cost of the goods you buy.

If you have multiple locations, you can buy a lot more competitively as you’ll be able to get discounts for buying in larger quantities. Most suppliers would also offer stock holding to keep bespoke products or products that have a longer lead time in stock, meaning further savings.  This is over against your store manager running down the road and buying a piece of equipment from a local company, which many not be competitive.

By knowing exactly what everything costs from your single supplier you can control these costs across your whole company. Some suppliers will also allow you to set a budget for your stores, providing further benefits in controlling maverick spending and keeping within your budgets.

Get more data
By using a single supplier, it will be a lot easier to get the data you need and more accurate reports. Instead of having to compare different suppliers and expenditure, which may be nearly impossible with multiple suppliers and if the correct data isn’t being recorded, you or your supplier will be able to get the data you need to be able to forecast, report and create further efficiencies in seconds.

So what’s the Single Source verdict?

You may have had quite a few thoughts reading through this piece, but if you’re considering using a single source partner, make sure you do your ground work. Research the supplier and make sure they have the capacity to work with you.  If you’re unsure about any other element of single source or have any other questions please feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to help you in your decision.

Get in touch to find out more

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