Tenders, tips and Google: how buyers find suppliers

18 July 2007
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19 July 2007 | Paul Snell

Buyers are divided on how best to attract new suppliers, according to the latest SM 100 poll.

The survey found most still expect suppliers to seek out opportunities, rather than relying on buyers to find them.

Putting out a tender was the first method of attracting new suppliers for 30 per cent of respondents. Recommendations from colleagues and other buyers was also a popular technique, with 23 per cent of the vote. A simple internet search was sufficient for 19 per cent of purchasers.

Some buyers said they carry out research on markets beforehand, but then use a tender to assess the suppliers that come forward.

Tenders are often the first port of call for public sector buyers because EU procurement rules ensure all suppliers see them. Some respondents said websites such as supply2.gov.uk and tenders.ac.uk had opened up the market to smaller suppliers.

But many advised not to rely on tendering. Getting suppliers' attention and attracting vendors of new and emerging services were cited as problems with this method.

The popularity of recommendations from colleagues and peers highlights the trend of rejecting traditional advertising in favour of personal opinions (Web news, 18 June).

"The predominant source is our own knowledge and that of our colleagues," said Shaun Evans, supplier relationship manager at Britannia building society.

References were also said to be faster and more reliable than internet claims. "Googling a selection on the internet may need lots of additional time to make supplier evaluations," said Ada Jiang, a buyer at sportswear manufacturer TS Group in Hong Kong. "To shorten the time from sourcing to production, we turn to customers or friendly purchasers for supplier recommendations."

However, many buyers say they carry out initial research online, citing ease of use, flexibility and speed as the benefits.

Other methods, such as using approved supplier lists, framework agreements, supplier databases and cold calls, accounted for 28 per cent of the vote.

SMjul2007

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