Research & Surveys
Scott Tillesen MBA, CICP, CCE
January/February 2008, eSide Supply Management Vol. 1, No. 1
A few simple modifications to your Web site's design and content can make a big difference in accommodating suppliers' creditors. To make sure they have all the information they need at their fingertips, consider these six strategies.
A Web site can be a powerful tool in attracting customers. It can be just as important for attracting and retaining suppliers. But if you have forgotten the audience of creditors that go along with suppliers, think again.
Creditors like information that is timely, complete and easy to obtain. These days, that means getting information on the Internet. They go to your Web site expecting to see, at minimum, various pieces of information critical to their analyses and credit decision-making. With some simple content additions, you can improve your success in building supplier relationships online.
Business Web sites are largely impersonal. This does not affect the occasional customer shopping for a hard-to-find item, or those seeking the best price; however, supply management professionals need to remember that credit professionals want to know more than your inventory and prices.
They want to know who is "hiding behind the curtain." They want to know key management team members' and owners' working experience and education levels. While life histories are unnecessary, it is comforting to creditors to know all there is to know about owners and operators.
How a company got where it is today is important background material. Are the founders of the business still involved? Did the company spin off from another entity? Has the focus of the company changed over its existence? These questions should be addressed in a company history section of your Web site.
Once you have this background information posted, be sure it continually reflects significant organizational changes.
Less than one percent of businesses have news that will make it to the front page of the Wall Street Journal — but that shouldn't stop a company from getting its news published.
Suppliers and their credit professionals like to read about their customers' happenings. They want to know if there are changes in the ownership, management, key staffing, office locations and product lines handled. Adding a current news section to your Web site is an opportunity for tell the world about important changes, successes and challenges. Credit professionals are fond of saying, "No news is worse than bad news — bad news can be explained!"
In the course of conducting credit analyses, I have visited hundreds of Web sites. It is surprising how many do not list the business' physical address.
The problem with omitting this information is that proliferation of Web sites has led to a lot of similar-looking names. If a credit professional is trying to conduct a credit review on the Acme Anvil Company in Maine, how are they to know the Acme Anvil they found on Google is, in fact, the correct company?
Letting your suppliers know your physical address is important, even if the business is100-percent Internet-based.
Knowing the company's key management team members is important, but you should also have a means to contact them via your Web site.
Additionally, supply managers should assure there is a designated supplier contact person. At minimum, include an e-mail address link so visitors can direct communication to their intended audience. While there might be an occasional misdirection, the advantages to your customers and creditor audiences are significant.
Be sure to include specifics regarding doing business with your company which your suppliers should know. You might want to highlight these instructions in a supplier section or, as it sometimes called, "How to Do Business With Us."
For example, if you require suppliers to send invoicing to your stores individually rather than directing all invoices to a corporate location, specify that in the supplier section. Use your Web site to publicize the terms and conditions of sale that govern customer sale transactions and supplier purchase transactions.
As a supply management professional, including these recommended sections in your Web site content will significantly improve in your relationship with the credit department of your suppliers. This will also come in handy when you are applying for credit with a new supplier as you will be able to conveniently direct them to your Web site for this wealth of valuable information.
Scott Tillesen is the director of credit for Tech Data Corporation in Clearwater, Florida. He is also a business consultant.To contact the author, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.