How procurement is rethinking its supplier relationships

suppliers relationships
April 1st, 2021
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Each week, invites a new procurement expert to talk about their experience, vision and the challenges they face in the field. When it comes to suppliers, procurement officers are as inspiring as they are pragmatic. To give an overview of their perspectives on supplier relationships, they envision a sustainable partnership able to drive innovation.

Long-term partnerships

"Become your suppliers' preferred customer" seems to have become the new motto of the procurement world. With the added pressure of the health crisis, this win-win approach to supplier relationships is gaining momentum.

This is what Jean-Christophe Gac, Group Purchasing and Sourcing Director at Manutan, points out in the programme on 10 March, reiterating that suppliers—when it comes to their products—remain the experts. Procurement, however, provides the link to the end customers. "We need partners we can go the distance with. It's worth noting that, at Manutan, the average length of time a supplier has worked with us is around 12 to 14 years", says Jean-Christophe Gac.

Relationships like this are built and maintained through good communication in order to better understand each other. Jean-Christophe explains how the procurement team at the B2B e-commerce leader analyses supplier satisfaction by means of an annual survey. The results are then used to implement any necessary corrective actions.

Suppliers as drivers of innovation

In this context, suppliers are also a great source of innovation for companies. In their quest for value creation, procurement departments have much to gain from exploiting these veritable gold mines of knowledge and opportunity. That's what makes taking the focus off face values and instead building lasting relationships with suppliers all the more important.

Olivier Joseph, Chief Procurement Officer for Microsoft France, explains that he always looks for innovation from his suppliers. "It doesn't make sense to say, 'Every two years, we'll have another competition'. If it's working and if my internal customer is happy, then we stick with it. However, when this customer says, 'Now I want to move to the next step', that's when we look to our suppliers for innovation. So we have quite open calls for tender at first and we [ask them], 'What do you offer, how can you support us etc.'", explains Olivier Joseph in the programme on 3 March. From this standpoint, curiosity and openness are the magic words for buyers on the lookout for innovation!

As you can see, co-development and co-innovation are the keys to great success for companies. And it's an idea that is more relevant than ever. As Jean-Christophe Gac reminds us, "The year 2020 has been a great driving force. This has helped highlight the strategic role procurement plays in a company, especially the role of the partnership [] with our suppliers".