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good supplier experience

Help me help you!

Eszter Dean has a strong background as a supply chain leader in the Alfa Laval Corporation. Today she is acting as COO at Elcowire – a leading supplier of copper wire rod, wires, stranded conductors, profiles and overhead catenary systems in aluminium and copper alloys. We had a privilege to have a short interview with her concentrating on the supplier experience.

How the practices of supplier collaboration have evolved during the latest 10 years?

I’m sure it’s different from company to company but I have worked for a rather large company the past 10 years and there has been a remarkable change in supplier collaboration. 10 years ago a large company pretty much told the supplier what the demands were and the supplier either said “yes customer” or they were replaced. On occasions, some suppliers even got into financial problems due to having agreed to terms that simply weren’t sustainable for them.

In my view, two major changes have happened throughout these years. One is that the requirements we have on suppliers have gone from being 99 % price and 1 % other requirements to looking at total cost instead of price and other requirements like compliance to environmental demands, social responsibilities have taken place more and more in choice of supplier.

The other major difference is that companies tend to collaborate more with supplier, meaning that instead of just choosing a new supplier if an already established supplier have difficulties meeting new requirements, companies are keener on trying to solve the issues in collaboration, helping out the current supplier. Another side of the collaboration is that more and more companies use supplier collaboration for innovation to stay ahead or get ahead of the competition.

Which are the main elements of a good supplier experience?

I would say its transparency, i.e. seeing the relevant information as soon as it happens / appears and also simplicity. It must be clear what the situations is and what’s expected and easy to respond.

Explain the importance of good supplier experience from the customer’s perspective.

Essentially the goal of a customer is to get the correct goods / services as agreed on the timing, quality and price. A good supplier experience gives a better opportunity for suppliers to satisfy customer needs. I think of the famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire: “Help me help you!”

In general, in what areas procurement professional should concentrate to gain the supplier experience in the future?

In my opinion, it’s being able to share relevant data and information in real-time and making sure to have open communication channels both ways if and when needed.

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