How strong working relationships pay dividends

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How strong working relationships pay dividends

Businesses sometimes require a holistic approach to a particular challenge, which is where a strong relationship with a supplier’s procurement team can really pay dividends. Nightfreight has worked with Office Depot for a number of years, but a problem involving labels triggered a more direct way of working with their procurement team.

The need to not only change label providers but address our entire approach to this aspect of the delivery process activated a more involved working relationship with Office Depot. We had to examine the entire offering, covering the processes to supply depots as well as engage in an element of re-educating customers.

Up to this point, our labels had just developed organically and there was a lack of cohesion in terms of what we were trying to achieve across the business. We’d never really questioned whether the labelling system could work in a way that actually improved business performance.

Close consultation means you won’t come unstuck

The fact that we were now seeking a supplier who could provide consultancy as well as products, meant that Office Depot had to demonstrate they could meet our needs through a series of meetings and site visits. As well as procurement, this process involved their print, customer support and implementation teams.

As a result of the collaboration, we have seen a 25 per cent reduction in labels becoming detached from parcels or freight.

The subsequent increase in freight getting to its rightful destination directly, rather than making detours to allow for manual intervention, has resulted in savings in time and money as well as providing a better service.

Our depots and our customers now have much greater confidence in the new system. In fact, we’ve been able to use the labels as a selling point for new and existing customers by providing reassurance that the label will be fit for purpose for the entire duration of a delivery.

The best approach for successful collaboration

Working in procurement at Nightfreight, I understood the value that our relationship with Office Depot could bring to the company but, as with any supplier, it is important to be approached in the right manner.

Patience is essential. Suppliers have to understand that there are plenty of obstacles to overcome – such as internal processes that have to be managed, as well as other suppliers to be considered – before we can start negotiating the best product, service and price combination.

Clear communication is also key so I can disseminate accurate information to director/board level and convey the relevant details quickly and easily.

The longest relationships in procurement are built upon such foundations and it is extremely important that a supplier works in partnership with you, understanding the individual needs of your business.

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